Greater Tulsa Reporter
STILLWATER, Okla. – Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy and selected members of the team visited with the media at Boone Pickens Stadium on Monday to look ahead to Friday night’s nationally-televised contest at Louisiana and to put a final wrap on the Cowboys’ win over Texas A&M. The highlights:
Mike Gundy, Head Coach
“We’ve been hard at work in preparation for Louisiana. We practiced yesterday to catch up for the Friday game. We’re working hard to keep our players focused after an emotional win. It’s important that they come back and practice well in preparation for Friday night’s game. There are not many areas that we’re altering to play on the road and we will prepare just like any other week. Our players understand that. We look forward to another good week of practice and getting to play our first game on the road.”
On having concerns about playing on a Friday night and competing with high school football
“Not really mostly because you can’t control it. It’s the way it was scheduled and those discussions took place eight to ten months ago about having a Thursday night game followed by a Friday night game. We thought it would be good for the university and for our football program to schedule the games the way they are.”
On younger players who haven’t played in a road game
“I think you’re always concerned about that. Hopefully the players who have traveled and played on the road will help them through that. As a coaching staff we have to do a good job of getting them prepared and find a way to make them understand that once we get out there and kick off it’s the same. I think we’re going to be fine. I think they understand the importance of it.”
On handling the defense being on the field for so many more plays than the offense
“The offense had too many three-and-outs early in the game and the defense allowed too many third-and-long and fourth-down conversions. Then you take into account early in the third quarter the offense is scoring quickly. All that contributed to that. I don’t know if there is an answer. You want to score a lot of points but you don’t want the defense to be on the field longer than they have to.”
On the free time with the off week, Thursday and Friday games
“The open week is good for several reasons as we’ve discussed the last couple of weeks. A Friday night game and a Thursday night game can be somewhat disruptive in your schedule. Coaches are creatures of habit. We do the same thing every day all the time so it throws us off a little bit. But it’s the way the schedule is and after this week for the most part we’ll be back on schedule.”
On where the team is now
“We’re pleased that we’re 4-0. We still have a long ways to go in all three phases. We improved in some areas and then in other areas we didn’t improve as much we needed to in order to continue to perform throughout the season. We want to be better in this game than we were in the last game and improve. We want the young guys to continue to mature and grow. We’re getting good play from our veteran guys with Ugo Chinasa winning Big 12 Player of the Week and we’re getting good play from Kendall Hunter. We still have a ways to go. We need every day that we can to practice and we need to stay healthy and continue to play at a high level.”
Joe DeForest, Special Teams Coordinator
On playing at Louisiana
"It's a festive environment. It's just the culture there; the way of life. There's great food, people and fun. I went there to play baseball so I know what to expect. The student section is pretty rowdy. They party all day and they sit right behind our bench and talk about your family and they are not very good things that they say."
On freshmen traveling for the first time
"I don't know how the environment will be for our game but I’m sure it's going to be good. They're going to hear things they have never heard before and hopefully they can stay focused. The biggest thing is how the young kids act on the road. They are being tested."
Dana Holgorsen, Offensive Coordinator
On the danger of going into a game on a Friday night and it’s the team’s first road trip
"You have to treat them all the same. We're going to treat this exactly like we did last week. Coach Gundy has done a good job in getting the players refocused and making everybody understand that this game is just as important as the other one. We're going to prepare and go into the game just as any other one."
On how OSU’s starters will get better
"It comes with experience. There are things that you don't see. The whole offense has to learn how to start fast, be able to recognize things and act quickly.”
On Tracy Moore
"Tracy stepped up a bit and we're looking for guys like that that can be reliable."
Bill Young, Defensive Coordinator
On the Louisiana offense
"They have multiple formations. A lot of unbalanced lines with a lot of motions too, so you really have to be right on or you can get yourself moved off real quickly."
On if this is a trap game for Oklahoma State
"I don't know if I would say it's a trap game honestly. We're a young football team and our expectation level is really high but I really don't think we're going to overlook anybody."
On the defense’s overall performance against Texas A&M
"We were pleased. We really were. We were excited to win the ball game although we were disappointed in some ways. We made some errors that we shouldn’t be making."
Brandon Weeden, Quarterback
On beating Texas A&M
"They played hard, especially defensively. They were coming after us and they had some success early on, but we settled in and got some momentum going. Any time you get a win in Big 12 play, especially the first one, it's a good thing."
On the difference between the third quarter and the first half against Texas A&M
"I think I just kind of got settled in and got a feeling for what they were trying to do. The first quarter, they were just coming from everywhere. They were bringing guys left, right, middle and everywhere. I think I got a feel for what they were trying to do and just kind of slowed things down, started making throws, trusting the guys up front. Things were obviously a lot better than the first quarter in the third quarter."
On playing this week on Friday instead of Saturday
"Last week was probably a little more weird than this week. We got a couple days off this weekend to get our legs back and practiced last night. We've got a full practice today. We kind of lighten the load as we go. It's a Friday night game on national television again. It's a good time for us to go out and showcase what we can do. We're excited about it. It's my first start on the road, along with a lot of other guys, so we're looking forward to it."
Ugo Chinasa, Defensive End
On his interception against Texas A&M
"I had one against A&M two years ago on the same field. So I think I have two now. It is a great feeling."
On the game against Texas A&M
"I think we shut them out in the third quarter, then in the fourth we gave them some yards and some points and they got back in the game. But other than that I think we played well and the offense finished the game with a victory."
On coming back from behind against Texas A&M
"We don't lay down. This year's motto is just to believe. So during halftime we were all saying just believe. We just got the guys together and played."
On being the Big 12 co-defensive player of the week
"I just go out and play hard every game and try to help the team. It is a great honor to get that award."
Dan Bailey, Kicker
On if he was nervous before his game winning kick
"Honestly it was kind of weird because in practice I have been having trouble kicking from the left hash mark, so my benchmark every day at practice has been to start at the 25-yard-line on the left and just kick field goals. So when I got out there it was very comfortable."
On what he was thinking about before he stepped up to kick
"The only thing I was thinking about was just making it. I was confident, but nervous. It was the one I had been struggling with the most."
Tracy Moore, Receiver
On playing the first road game of the year
"I think we're ready to step outside of Oklahoma and finally get to play a team that's not on our home field."
"They have great coaches and they have a good team. We don't take anybody for granted and we play every game like it's our last."
On Ugo Chinasa
"Ugo's a big inspiration; he's always playing hard and everything he does is always full speed."
On coming back against Texas A&M
"We just had to stay focused. Just concentrate on ourselves and not get too caught up in what the score was or what the crowd was chanting or anything like that. We just had to stay focused and stay on course."
James Thomas, Linebacker
On his fumble return touchdown
"When I saw the ball, I was just like, 'Pick it up. Don't mess it up.' It was just another opportunity for me to make a play and help my team, so I was just like, 'Pick up the ball and let's score.'"
On opening conference play with a win
"It's big. It gives us confidence going into the conference and it was a great emotional win for us as well. It just builds our confidence."
On playing the first road game of the season
"We don't really look at it as a road game, we look at it as the next game. It's the next game for us to get better and improve ourselves."
On Louisiana's offense
"They're very shifty. They've got a lot of good skill players. They're O-line is huge: I'm talking about 6'7", 6'8", 365-pounders. Their skill guys are real good, they're real shifty. They'll make you miss in space."
Tolu Moala, Linebacker
On playing extended minutes against Texas A&M
"Playing in the game Thursday night, it was great. I wasn't expecting to play that many plays, 103 plays, especially coming off of not knowing if I was going to play all year, thinking I was going to be out for the season. Getting thrown into the fire that fast was really a wake-up call for me. It was a good opportunity for me to step in. Coaches always say, 'When your number is called, show up and play.'"
On his knee injury
"Luckily, the injury wasn't as bad as what we thought it was going to be at first. We originally thought I had a torn ACL. Going into the surgery, they opened me up and said, 'Hey, you don't have a torn ACL.' I was just thankful to have a second opportunity. It's not until you feel like everything's been taken away that you realize how important, how much fun you had in the game. I'm just so grateful to be back to playing football again."
On beating Texas A&M
"Any time you have a Thursday night game, it will always throw you off schedule after normally playing on Saturdays. To play in front of the nation on ESPN and to come off with a big win like that, especially for me. I haven’t gotten a lot of playing time since I've been here. I’ve been always trying to learn the system, learn the defense. Having Patrick Lavine in front of me last year, it was great for me because I learned a lot from him. It was great to have this win on Thursday."
Lane Taylor, Offensive Lineman
On playing Louisiana
"I am just looking forward to getting better as an offensive line, and as a team also. We want to be able to get out there and execute our plays and do better than the week before."
On the game against Texas A&M
"We have to fix some mistakes. There were a few blitzes that we didn't pick up on and there are things that we can improve on. We just need to learn from our mistakes and improve."
On coming from behind against Texas A&M
"We just keep pushing. Coaches are always making sure that we keep driving, and keep going forward towards the next play."
Johnny Thomas, Safety
On the defensive performance against Texas A&M
"We played pretty well on defense. I was surprised about how many plays we had to play. I think it was 106. That kind of took a toll on us, but we pushed through it."
On playing on the road
"We are just looking forward to going out and playing our game. We will just treat it like any other week.”