Sunday Rewind: Nice Start But Work To Do

As Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy walked out of Boone Pickens Stadium Saturday night in a sharp beige suit and orange tie with his wife Kristen, he was able to enjoy as good an opening season win as OKlahoma State and its fans have enjoyed since his college coach, Pat Jones, and the 1983 Cowboys blew out Arizona State on the road 45-3.

Last season's win over Georgia was an attention getter, and the win at UCLA in 2004 was nice too. Those opponents were better, some much better, but last night was fun.

Kendall Hunter going for 257 and four touchdowns earning an ESPN helmet sticker, Brandon Weeden's debut at quarterback, Justin Blackmon with three touchdown catches, and a bounce and score on the blocked punt made is very entertaining. By the time Gundy spoke with the media Sunday afternoon he had watched the video of the offense and special teams.

"Same as last night," opened Gundy with his review. "Kendall Hunter was the difference and the offensive line played okay, (but it) could be better. The wide receivers blocking downfield really helped Kendall break some of those long runs.

"Brandon Weeden played better as the game progressed. In the special teams areas we need to get better, like in punt returns, but we've got a number of guys out there for the first time."

Gundy was asked about freshman speedster Justin Gilbert, who was expected to return punts after showing off with some impressive returns in fall camp. Gundy said they just decided to put Josh Cooper back there as a veteran and then work in Gilbert as the game went on, which they did. That area has been good for Oklahoma State and will be again, but needs work. Kickoff returns aren't really fair to judge as Washington State only kicked off four times and one was a touchback.

Overall, Gundy has taken an interest in special teams and you can expect to see him and Joe DeForest coach up the special team units hard. The blocked punt was good even though Gundy wished they had told the players not to block it even if the opportunity presented itself. At that point the game was secured and Gundy said he did apologize for that afterwards to Washington State head coach Paul Wulff.

There was a bad snap on a PAT, and there are a lot of youngsters playing on the special units. The kickoff team had eight freshmen with only the kicker Quinn Sharp and veterans Bryant Ward and Victor Johnson out there with them.

On offense, Gundy had praise for Blackmon and Weeden, who hooked up for the three touchdowns.

"He throws a nice ball," said Gundy of Weeden. "We have said that for a long time and he had a couple of really good balls in the game. He has velocity and is continuing to learn how to throw some passes with touch. He is going to continue to get better."

Gundy added that he had not been told of any problems with Weeden that were serious and that he would know if Weeden had a serious injury following his last possession, a possession that ended with a 24-yard touchdown to Justin Blackmon.

As for Blackmon and the big passes he caught in the opener, Gundy said, "Some of it was just the way it fell," said Gundy of Blackmon, who had eight catches for the 125 yards and three touchdowns while the rest of the receiver corps had 15 receptions for 125 yards. "Most teams have a big-play guy. Blackmon got the deep balls. We tried to throw some to the other guys and didn't complete them."

Asked if Blackmon was next OSU player in the receiver lineage of Hart Lee Dykes, Rashaun Woods, D'Juan Woods, Adarius Bowman, and Dez Bryant, Gundy responded, "It's too early to put him in that group."

Gundy said the "Diamond" formation that made lots of appearances in the game on offense is a product of Oklahoma State personnel with fullbacks Bryant Ward and David Paulsen to go with Hunter and the speed backs. Gundy likes it and said it is a new thing for offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen, who Gundy said may have been misrepresented in the media with his offense.

Holgorsen has loved Ward and Paulsen since he arrived. He told Fox Sports sideline reporter Emily Jones that the formation is a throwback to the way his mentor, Mike Leach, had used fullback and now college assistant coach Seth Littrell at OU when Leach was offensive coordinator for the Sooners.

Gundy told the Tulsa World's Bill Haisten that he would like to be in the top 25, but who wouldn't? He agreed that it would be good for the program to be back in but he understood why they are having to work their way back into that elite group with how many starters and big name players they lost.

As for defense, there was really just one issue and that was seeing the two starting defensive tackles go down with injuries in a matter of plays.

"Yeah, I was concerned," said Gundy. "I was really disappointed for Shane (Jarka) and Chris (Donaldson) because of how hard they have worked to get ready for the season. I'm very disappointed for those guys.

"I think both are just a week or two weeks. That is still to be determined and we will know more about them tomorrow. I would say right now that we have to get reps with every tackle in the program."

Gundy said that extended to even late arriving recruit Christian Littlehead, who has reportedly shown some promise despite coming in late and being over the desired weight that defensive coordinator and line coach Bill Young wanted to see him.

"Yes, we have a ways to go, so no question we need to play anybody that plays tackle in this program," reinterated Gundy.

That was the rewind this Sunday of what was a really good start, but just that, a start for the 2010 Oklahoma State Cowboys.

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