Sunday Rewind: It's On To Texas

Normally, everybody dials in to the Sunday teleconference with Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy thinking about the game from the day before. There is plenty of time at the Monday news conference to jump into the next week's game. Sensing there wasn't quite as much interest today in dissecting the 34-7 win over Baylor, I cut to the quick and asked for a general Baylor wrap up.

"Really pretty consistent with what I said in the postgame conference," said Gundy of the request do a condensed review. "I thought we were consistent in all three areas -- offense, defense, and special teams.

"I thought our running backs got the tough yards, (and the) passing game was efficient. I thought the offensive line really played efficient. The defense had a number of good stops. They contained their backs (run game) and stopped the short outside passing game. Our special teams played consistently all afternoon."

The Sunday phone exchange usually draws 5 to 8 participants including Gundy but today it seemed like there were 15 to 20 beeps signifying callers on the line before Gundy opened it up by saying, "Coach Gundy, here."

The Sporting News and The Dallas Morning News were both on the call, and you have to expect there were other national outlets on as well.

The 13th-ranked Cowboys are hosting third-ranked Texas and it will be televised nationally on some combination yet to be announced of ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2.

The Cowboys, who lost some of their national luster by losing to Houston after beating Georgia in the season opener, are back on the "A" list in college football. The nation wants to hear what the Cowboys are all about and how they have put on this five-game winning streak without running back Kendall Hunter and mostly without amazing wide receiver Dez Bryant.

"The players have done a tremendous job and the assistant coaches have been great leaders for them," said Gundy of how the Cowboys have survived physically and emotionally without two dynamic playmakers.

"I think we have lost more key players this season on this team that play a role to injury than we did in my other years combined. Then we have the media circus that we've had with Dez's situation, and I'm really proud of this team of staying together and the way they have worked through it and paid attention to the important things like school, their personal lives, and practice and preparation for football."

No doubt a big part of that has been quarterback Zac Robinson. The senior has fought through a hamstring injury in the preseason, the loss of his grandfather just a couple of weeks ago, and, like his teammates, the loss of various injured players and the two playmakers he has shared so much offensive success with.

Yesterday at Baylor he was a record 23-of-27 (the record being a school mark for completion percentage of 85.2 percent) for 250 yards and three touchdowns. He is now just 217 yards shy of Gundy's school passing yardage mark of 7,997 yards. The record holder would like for him to blow by that mark on Saturday.

"(He's) playing better now," said Gundy of Robinson. "I think he is more efficient, is running the ball better, and doing the things he is capable of. We knew he was a good college football player but I think he had a leg injury early in the season that was bothering him and keeping him from going full speed in practice.

"It is really hard to not go full speed in practice and be as prepared as you need to be to play well on Saturday. I think he is in his routine now."

As for the other Cowboys stepping up on offense, names Cowboys fans know like Toston, Johnson, Anyiam, Fooks, Moore, Blackmon, Youman, and Bassett. The nation may not know these guys, but that's okay.

"Anytime you have a player (or players) that are not returning veterans, and Toston is really a veteran, then as the season progresses they gain confidence performing in pressure situations then that is a plus for your team," Gundy said.

Gundy has that now. He also has a defense that is becoming more confident, has actually been the reason for a couple of the recent wins, and with just seven points, 43 yards rushing, and 284 yards of total offense allowed at Baylor may creep up into some recently unchartered territory in the conference and national stats.

"We've been more gap sound, running to the ball, we have a little more speed, and then, overall, we are playing better as a group," said Gundy of his defense. The head coach is a huge fan of his veteran defensive coordinator Bill Young.

Oh, but now here comes Texas, fresh off a 41-7 spanking of Missouri on Saturday night. The Longhorns have an 11-game winning streak and allowed Missouri just 173 yards on Saturday while efficiently gaining 400 yards of their own.

This has to be the week that the Cowboys really crank it up. They have to go nuts in preparation. Put in all the trick plays they can on offense and special teams. Jack up their defense with a bunch of blitzes and coverages.

Right, I mean it's a special game with a powerhouse opponents that calls for extreme measures, right?

"I wish we had the answer to that, Robert," said Gundy. "Each week I think the biggest challenge we face as coaches is motivating and getting the players to buy into the grind.

"This is the 12th week (for OSU) of long days, physical exertion, injuries, soreness, and it is really important that we get the players to prepare well in practice playing a team this caliber and be ready to play the game Saturday. It should be easier because of who this is. We'll get a game plan together, work hard all week in practice, and then go play hard on Saturday."

That sounds boring but it sounds consistent and lately that has been winning games for Oklahoma State.

Gundy was asked about two players who have been missing games. Running back Kendall Hunter was one. Hunter made the trip to Baylor but did not play. Gundy said he will continue to practice as he has for the past three weeks and be ready when he feels he can go. Hunter gained 161 yards in his most impressive game of his career last season at Texas.

Gundy said wide receiver Josh Cooper, who has not played since the fourth quarter of the Texas A&M win, is probably out another two weeks.

The status of wide receiver Dez Bryant remains the same, in the hands of the NCAA and they have yet to make an announcement.

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