Gundy: Obviously we're very excited to be here. It's a great opportunity for everybody associated with Oklahoma State to be a part of this new stadium. It's certainly eye-opening for everybody and mind-boggling when you get in here. It's pretty amazing. I think the Cotton Bowl, AT&T, the sponsors and everybody. The hospitality has been tremendous. We're looking forward to a great week of preparation.
Q: Talk about your relationship with Coach Nutt going back to your time as a player and when he was an assistant coach.
Gundy: He coached the receivers, and I was a quarterback, so we were around each other every day. I've always enjoyed him as a person and his enthusiasm. And I think that led to us continuing to follow his career as he moved up. He's had a lot of success. There are some similarities in our background. We go back to Coach Pat Jones and Coach Jimmy Johnson. I'm guessing they take a lot of pride in their style of play, and they like to run the football and play tough defense and are good on special teams. That's the path we've taken at Oklahoma State the last few years. They've done a great job and he's had a lot of success. We're looking forward to the game on Saturday and competing.
Q: What are Gunter Brewer's strengths in trying to become a college head coach someday?
Gundy: He obviously has good bloodlines. His father (Billy Brewer) has had success in this profession. That gives you a head start. That gives you an advantage in everything involved. He's got great work habits and great people skills. I don't think there's any question at some point in his career he will have that opportunity. When that will be you never know. They're hard to come by. At some point he'll have that chance.
Q: How important has Zac Robinson's leadership role on the team been this season?
Gundy: Zac's been tremendous for us as a leader. I've said this a number of times. I don't think people gave him enough credit for being a quarterback and coming back with as many weapons as he's had over the last few years. We've had a couple of unfortunate incidences, and he's lost some of those guys. When you look out there and have new faces, you've got to really push through it and learn to develop skills with those guys in order to move the football. He's had to learn on the run this year with some new guys. We've been very impressed with his ability to stay focused and move the offense with some of the players not there he expected to be there.
Q: Talk about what Russell Okung has given you on the offensive line and his progression since he came into your program.
Gundy: Russell's a very unique individual in that he's started for four years in this league and has developed into one of the premier tackles in the country. I've said at times off the field he's been just as impressive. He's graduated from college and takes care of business. He's been a great leader for us. Coach (Joe) Wickline has done a great job bringing him along for us. Some player-coach relationships just mesh and blossom. Russell and Coach Wickline have had that relationship. He's been tremendous for our offensive line and it's really helped to develop the young linemen in the program to see what Russell has done on the field, off the field, and in the weight room. His social skills, his character. Russell is going to play for a long time.
Q: How has your team responded from adversity this season and how are they responding to the challenge of Ole Miss?
Gundy: The attitude and the want-to of teams in bowl games are very important. I thought it was important to get some time off. We've never given a team two weeks off, and now looking back I think that was the right thing to do. They prepared well and their attitude is good. They're looking forward to the game. We still have a week of preparation and there is a lot of excitement going on with the Cotton Bowl. It's important they stay focused for two hours a day and get ready to play a very good football team. Their demeanor has been good. Their attitude has been good. We expect them to prepare well and play well Saturday.
Q: What are some of the challenges defending Dexter McCluster?
Gundy: He's very impressive. He's got great speed and great ability to make you miss. There are concerns there. He's very talented and gives defenses serious problems. Our guys are looking forward to the challenge of corralling him. They use him different ways and take advantage of his strengths. He obviously makes them much better.
Q: What has defensive coordinator Bill Young brought to your program?
Gundy: No question we've improved. He's developed a great relationship with the coaches on our staff. The players believe in his schemes. They believe in his plans to slow offenses down. He's a great teacher. He can get the players to perform a t a higher level. He takes guys and says this is your role and this is what we need you to do. I have been impressed with that. He's helped me in the staff room. He's got knowledge and expertise in areas that help me as a head coach. He's been a great addition to the staff.
Q: Do you think fans will look back at Zac Robinson and take for granted how good he has been and the plays he has made?
Gundy: I think there is some truth to that. When you perform at a high level early in your career, Zac has started 35 games. People expect you to play at a high level every game. There are a lot of contributors to that. He's been very durable for us to play at this level and play the opponents we've played. It's hard to replace guys like that. At times people may take him for granted, but nobody in our program does.
Q: Considering how many seniors you are losing, do you take a strategy that you are looking at younger players through the bowl game and see what they bring to the future?
Gundy: We have implemented time in practice to get young players some work. We are still spending the majority of time in preparation for Ole Miss. No question coaches take advantage of bowl practices to get a sneak peek of next year, because you have a month and there is only so much time starters can get reps. So you use some of it to work younger players and see where they're at and get them into the system.
Gundy: 'We're excited to be here'
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