Gundy on Oklahoma State bouncing back from upset

Mike Gundy’s team was picked for the first time as the favorite to win the Big 12 back in July, but suffered a surprising loss in Morgantown to West Virginia as a three-touchdown favorite. That was the biggest upset of any Big 12 team in 2013, and Gundy sat down with Fox Sports Southwest this week to talk about bouncing back from that, as well as a handful of other topics.

How has practice been so far this week?

Good. You know, any time you don’t play as well as you want to, it’s always a challenge early to get them out there and get them going, but they’re resilient. Young people are much more resilient than adults and we’ve finished up well yesterday and obviously today’s practice will be very important.

What concerned you most about the loss?

When you turn the ball over and you don’t play well in the kicking game, it’s hard to win. It’s real simple. You limit the other team on offense, be sound in the kicking game and don’t turn the ball over. We turned the ball over and had two punts, one was 12 (yards) and one was 16 (yards), which is basically a turnover. So that’s five turnovers, and we missed two field goals.

How do you go about fixing that then? Do you do anything or trust that was out of the character of your team? What’s the approach there?

You can’t change anything. We have a true freshman kicker. He has to gain some experience. As far as taking care of the football, those are things we work on every single day, so you really can’t change a lot. You try to be as fundamentally sound as you can, but you can’t really change the philosophy of who you are. And you go with it. We obviously make them aware of the mistakes that we made, and we try to correct it the best way possible.

You mentioned a little of it earlier, but how would you describe the way your team responded from the loss mentally?

I think they’re fine. We’ve won so many games here the last couple of years, that I think they’re disappointed, which they should be. Any time you put as much work in as everybody in college football does, you want to win, so the players and the coaches can enjoy that. But they go back to work. It’s every week. There’s 75 of us that win and 75 of us that lose, and whether you win or lose, you’ve got to go back to work the next week. That’s just the way college football is.

Did you have to tailor a message this week to deal with that, or is it mostly business as usual to focus on K-State?

It’s always been business as usual for us, because if you go on the road and have a big win, then you worry about them being back on the same level they need to be in practice the next week. So it’s always been business as usual for us.

After last week, there was naturally some talk about using Clint Chelf in some throwing situations. What scenario do you envision using him, whether it be as a passer or just in general?

Well, we’re using J.W. Walsh as our quarterback and if there’s ever a time that we needed to make a change, then we would, but if there’s ever a time that we needed to make a change, we would. But we don’t really have a specific situation that we would need to use Clint.

What is your level of concern with where the running game is at now?

Well, we need to have balance in our offense. It’s always been that way. Prior to the last game, we had some balance. We weren’t able to run the football as well. We only rushed for 115, 111 yards, something like that last week. We need to be up around the 140-yard rushing area.

What went wrong for you guys in the running game last week that had been there in the first three weeks?

Well, we didn’t block as well as we needed to. And when you do that, your backs are making cuts in the backfield, and when they’re making cuts in the backfield, it’s hard to run the football.

Did you see Bob Stoops’ comments from Wednesday on the SEC defenses having trouble slowing down NFL-caliber quarterbacks?

I did not. I haven’t seen any of that.

OK. Well, he basically was making a little bit of a joke, kind of being sarcastic, but he was saying the Big 12 had all these NFL quarterbacks and our defenses didn’t look very good, and now you look at Mettenberger and Aaron Murray at LSU and Georgia playing to a 44-41 game and all of a sudden these defenses are having trouble stopping it, and obviously what Johnny Manziel has done in the SEC. What do you make of all that talk?

He’s right. College football’s offenses go as their quarterbacks go.

As a defense, what’s the hardest part about trying to defend an experienced, talented quarterback?

I don’t think there’s any question, anybody that’s playing at our level, if they have a quarterback who’s potentially in the NFL Draft, they’re going to move the ball and score points. We went through a number of years in this league where we had 5-6 NFL quarterbacks in this league and defenses were giving up 40-45 points a game. And so, the point he’s making–without reading it and going off what you said–is the transition now that this happens in the SEC, they’re playing with NFL-type quarterbacks. And when that happens, they’re also scoring 40-45 points a game.

It’s been a few weeks now. What’s been the response on the recruiting trail to you in regards to the Sports Illustrated series?

You know, we haven’t heard anything. Absolutely zero. We had 20 players committed, and we now have 21 committed. We don’t even hear about it anymore.

Did you ever get any questions from parents or recruits?

No. We didn’t get any. I think I may have gotten four questions from parents over that, and I think it got to a point where it became somewhat comical for them and they didn’t even–in fact most of them never even saw the last two issues or copies or whatever it’s called in the series.

What’s been your message to them on that?

Nothing, because they don’t ever bring it up.