Oklahoma State Coach Mike Gundy
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Coach Gundy.
COACH GUNDY: It's an exciting time as always for us to be able to get back to work and come off vacation and looking forward to getting with the players, seeing how they developed and grown and gotten stronger.
For us, with a new quarterback and a number of veteran players on offense, and then a very solid and deep defense and looking forward to a great year on special teams with Quinn, it's an exciting time.
There's always a lot of talk about losing players that have really done well at Oklahoma State, but one thing that we look forward to as coaches is an opportunity to start to develop and watch young people grow.
And so we're real excited about the season and looking forward to getting back to work.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. How has Wes handled the aftermath of the spring and what that all meant for him?
COACH GUNDY: It's interesting. I haven't seen him in six weeks, eight weeks. I'm in and out of the office and those guys are down at the bottom level training and throwing and going through strength and conditioning. And I know he's been in the room studying tape. But I haven't really spent a lot of time around him. We're not allowed to.
So looking forward to getting somewhat reacquainted with him in the first weeks in August.
Q. Mike, you talked a lot in the spring about you think this is the most depth that you've had on the defensive side as a head coach. How would you assess their progress in the spring and just what are you most looking for them this season?
COACH GUNDY: I enjoyed watching our defense with their athleticism and speed. And we were able to put players in there that are young. And we didn't have as much drop‑off as we would have had three, four years ago. And we have recruited toward some depth on defense and speed.
And we're hoping that it's going to work out well for us. But we feel better now or I feel better now than I have about our defense since I've been the head coach.
Q. Coach, has Joseph Randle developed into the type of player you can lean on offensively?
COACH GUNDY: Joseph has done very well for us. And he's been durable. Not only a good runner inside but outside. He's been a good receiver.
He pass blocks well. So between him and Jeremy, you know, 18‑, 1900yards and over 30 touchdowns. But Joseph has kind of established himself as a dominant back in this league.
Q. Staying on the topic of Joseph Randle. Last year he had a pretty good year, but it was probably overshadowed by the Weeden and Blackmon. Now he's kind of taking the forefront as being one of the main players. How do you think he'll handle that type of expectation?
COACH GUNDY: He should handle it well. He's been involved with Oklahoma State football now for three years. And so we have a certain way that we like to carry ourselves, and we talk about team being first and the success of our group.
And I'm confident that Joe will handle it the right way. And he just has to remember that if not, then things can go the other direction. As soon as you think you've arrived and established, there will be somebody waiting to knock you off. And I'm sure he understands that.
Q. Besides facilities, what's allowed you to do the things to win a championship last year? What's taking place besides facilities, and, also, why do you believe it can be sustained?
COACH GUNDY: Well, our facilities gave us a chance a number of years ago. We've had tremendous continuity with our coaching staff. We had a plan and we were able to stick with it, particularly in recruiting and our thought process and how we wanted to approach it, the type of young men we were looking for, try to be very detailed in how they fit in our style of play and what kind of character they had and whether football and graduation and things that we think would contribute to success was really important to that particular player.
And sustaining it, again, it comes down to recruiting and having quality people in our organization. It starts with our coaches. They've got to make good decisions. They've gotta do the right thing. They have to care about the players.
And it filters down to our mature players, our seniors, juniors, the veterans, and then they have to train and develop the young players.
And so the overall picture of the one area, the one thing that I mentioned over the last few years is our organization, our football program at Oklahoma State has come a long ways.
And hopefully at this point we've got development that's taken place that's going to filter for the next few years.
Q. Mike, you said you've had tremendous continuity with your coaching staff but you've had four offensive coordinators in seven years, including one switch which was a radical change; that's not great continuity. Why have you been able to be an excellent offensive program even with constant turnover?
COACH GUNDY: Well, continuity is probably not the best word. I guess cohesiveness in our willingness to work together, and whenever we have a turnover like that with coaches, that's a good thing. That means we're having success and other people are taking our coaches.
But I'd like to think the way we practice, we believe in finding a goal, identifying what our strengths are and how do we get them the football and eliminate as many mistakes as much as possible and force mistakes and turnovers on the other team.
It's probably directly related to the success that we've had more so than any other area.
But our coordinators that we have in place now and the coordinators we've had that have now gone on to be head coaches have done a good job of being a head coach on that particular side of the ball. And I think that's important in football.
Q. This is a question about one of your former players, and that's specifically Dez Bryant, have you followed his career as he left Oklahoma State and specifically some off‑the‑field stuff? And do you have any reason to believe why he might be able to get past some of these things that he sort of stumbled on the last few years off the field?
COACH GUNDY: Well, we certainly hope so. Dez, as we all know, is an unbelievable talent and is trying to make strides to do the right thing, and I'm not really informed on what happened just recently. I only know what I saw in the news. I've been out of town and haven't really paid much attention.
But it saddens me to hear negative things come out about Dez, and hopefully he can get it together.
When he was at Oklahoma State, we were with him all the time every step of the way. We never really had many issues with him. And when I look back at the times, I think that the coaches that were there, they stood next to him and they were there with him and it worked out well for us.
And hopefully he can get back into that trend in the NFL.
Q. During this little run you've had the last three or four years, you've always had a big‑play wide receiver who can really get a lot of yards, when you look at Bryant and Blackmon. Are you convinced maybe you have another guy to fill those shoes right now?
COACH GUNDY: I'm not sure that I'm ready to commit to one of these guys being a first‑round pick. They're so few and far between.
The comparison I would make is years ago we talked about losing Kendall Hunter, and I felt like that Jeremy Smith and Joseph Randle as a pair needed to combine and give us what Kendall did. And those guys have been able to do that. I want‑‑ we want three or four of our receivers this year to give us what a Justin Blackmon gave us this last year.
And so that will be our goal is for Wes to be able to develop and delegate the ball to the guys that can make the plays. But it is very difficult to replace a Justin Blackmon.
Q. Given the Penn State situation, players are eligible to transfer and eligibility, what's just your overall philosophy on bringing in transfers?
COACH GUNDY: Oh, I think there's a lot to digest right now. It's all happened so fast and there's been so much information that's come out in the last 24hours.
We have not had a lot of success with players that have transferred. We've taken some. But overall the majority of our success with our players have come from guys that have come in and been developed in our program.
This is a unique situation in what's transpired. And our comment, without getting together as a staff right now, my comment would be that I think that we have to take a look at everything that's going on.
It is a long ways over there. It's not like they're a four‑hour car drive from where we are. I'm going to guess most of those players are from somewhere in that part of the country.
And so it's not a priority for us right now. But if there were some interest out there, I would think just like any other business or any other football team, you would look at it.
Q. You were top of the country last year in turnover margin. How do you do that again this year, especially with a freshman quarterback?
COACH GUNDY: Well, there's no question that the success that we've had over the last few years has been directly related to our success and the turnover margin.
We forced as many if not more turnovers than anybody in the country last two years, and we've done a decent job of taking care of the ball on offense, and so we have to continue with it.
As I mentioned earlier, Wes has to understand his role and that he's got a number of players that can really help him get to the ball to those guys, not try to do too much.
He can't put a lot of pressure on himself. You can't perform well in any sport playing under pressure. And our defense has to pick up where they left off last year. There's a number of those guys that are back and they understand the importance of forcing turnovers.
Q. You said you'd like three or four guys to combine and give you what Blackmon gave you, but behind Blackmon last year, the last two years, you've had three or four guys that put up really good numbers behind him. So if you got three or four ‑‑ those guys are now doing Blackmon's numbers, do you have to find seven or eight guys to do what those three or four guys did the last two years?
COACH GUNDY: I think what I was trying to say is we spread the ball out more than people realized. Earlier we had a question come up about Joseph Randle, and I don't know if everybody realized last year Joseph Randle touched the ball more than anybody on our team.
And this year in really crucial times, everybody knew that Blackmon was going to get the ball. And this last year, I should say. This upcoming season we don't have a guy that's established like Blackmon. So in those situations we'll have to use other people. Now, Tracy Moore has made a lot of plays for us, Isaiah has made plays for us. We talked about the running backs. And you talked about the other guys we have, like Josh Cooper last year that had 74 catches.
But for the most part we have quality receivers in our program and this incoming class that we have of guys that are on campus, that will be on campus next week, may be as good as we've ever had, when you look at them on paper. And how they develop is our responsibility to get them to that level.
So ultimately in our offense, if we can get a number of guys, anywhere from four to seven, that at some point are good enough to get into an NFL camp, then we'll be in a great situation.
Q. Looking back on your season last year, you know you guys won the Big 12, won the Fiesta Bowl. If there's one defining factor that you would tell fans or tell the media that says we can do this again, what would it be?
COACH GUNDY: I think that five, six years ago when I was at these meetings and saying that our goal was to win a Big 12 championship and play for a national championship, there was just a small percentage of people that believed that that were at these meetings and probably 99percent of those people were in orange.
But we're at a point now that you win 41 games, or whatever it's been, in four years and 23 games in two years, that, to a certain extent, over that period of time that we've established ourselves as being a quality program.
Now, myself, our coaching staff, and our players understand that that's short lived if you're not willing to put the time and effort and the work in that we have over that period of time.
But from a recruiting standpoint, from a fan support, season ticket sales, selling suites, things that all factor into the success of football team, football program, athletic department, they should understand and believe that as long as we continue to work hard and do the right things, we'll have that opportunity.
Q. Last summer you had a guy like Brandon to kind of lead the way during the summer. Where is the leadership coming from this summer, do you feel?
COACH GUNDY: The veteran players, again, when we have our final meetings before summer break, the players practice on their own, just like everybody else in the country, the Joe Randles, the Jeremy Smiths, Justin Gilberts, Robert Browns, Lane, all those guys, Cooper Bassetts, they have to lead the way.
And then Wes Lunt is put in the situation that he has to structure and organize how things go during those workouts. But the veteran players have to be the ones to say: You're going to be on time. This is what we're going to accomplish. This is what we've done the last few years.
Q. Coach Holgorsen was talking about Geno Smith and second year in the offense. I'd expect you're familiar with that style. Can you talk about that, that first to second year for quarterback development?
COACH GUNDY: In this offense at Oklahoma State, the experience is very important because the quarterback controls so much on the field. Other offenses that I have been around and offenses we used before at Oklahoma State, the coaches had a lot of say in what could happen during a game.
But in this style of play, the experience in seeing defenses and knowing where blitzes are coming from, what the coverages are and where to go with the football is so important.
And the only way to get better is through experience. Always use the example: If you want to get good at shooting free throws, you've got to shoot a bunch of free throws.
And for a quarterback to develop our style of offense, they gain unbelievable experience through going out there and playing in games.
Q. Your special teams have been a team strength ever since you've been there. You lost your special teams coach and I'm just curious how you're planning to fill his departure and any special plans to try and have your coaches do that.
COACH GUNDY: Well, we want to keep everything as close and as similar as what it's been over the last seven years. And that's been my philosophy, our philosophy when we've lost coaches. We lost coordinators and position coaches.
We wanted to keep things rolling with very little change. Players, people don't like change. And so we try to stay as uniform as possible. And that's what we're going to do this year.
Obviously Joe did a great job for us, and with him being at West Virginia now we'll have to alter and change some things that we've done, because he's got a pretty good idea of who we are and what we do.
But for the most part, the way we prepare, the way we practice, our thought process will stay very similar.
Q. Did you designate somebody as special teams coordinator, or does that spread depend on the unit?
COACH GUNDY: We haven't done that yet. I'm going to do that, either by individual or a coach at start of camp. And I have a pretty good idea of or we have a pretty good idea what we want to do; we just haven't finalized it yet before we say it. We don't want to say one thing and change into another. But we'll do that at the start of camp.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.