Oklahoma State’s football coach also diagnosed his offensive line’s improvement, previewed Saturday’s game at West Virginia and talked about his celebratory handstand.
STILLWATER — Monday’s press conference with Mike Gundy was all over the place.
Oklahoma State’s football coach shared an injury update, diagnosed why his offensive line is playing better, previewed Saturday’s matchup with the Mountaineers and talked about his locker-room handstand.
Let’s get into it.
Gundy said Dalton Cooper looks good to practice and play Saturday in Morgantown. The left tackle played 18 snaps against Kansas before exiting with an undisclosed injury. He didn’t return to the game. Pro Football Focus has graded Cooper as OSU’s top lineman this season, especially in the run game.
Gundy said he thinks Cooper will practice and play this week and that “He seems to be fine.”
Even without Cooper, the Cowboys rushed for 218 yards against the Jayhawks averaging, 5.7 yards a carry. Through the past three games of conference play, OSU has averaged 5.1 yards per rush, up from 3.9 in the first three games of the season.
So what has allowed the OSU offensive line to improve so much? That was the next question.
Gundy said health and consistency up front the reason for OSU’s improved blocking. Gundy said the playbook isn’t the reason for OSU’s improved blocking in the run and passing game. OSU is running the same plays it was early in the season, he said.
“Now, remember we had injuries in the first week or two, we had guys moving around,” Gundy said. “If you have guys moving around, you’re vulnerable. We always are, I don’t know about other teams. Different responsibilities, different looks, playing tackle is not same as playing guard, playing on the right side is not the same as playing on the left. So we were two and a half games, three games somewhat disrupted with where guys were and it created some issues for us blocking and protecting.”
Tackle Jake Springfield was injured for the Iowa State game and guard Preston Wilson missed the opener with a non-football matter. Both have returned and benefitted the Cowboys.
Gundy offered counsel to OSU kicker Alex Hale’s big game. Hale had a clutch 42-yard field goal to give the Cowboys a seven-point lead late on Saturday’s game. It came moments after Hale missed just his third field goal of the season.
“As he missed it I went over and told him ‘It’s all good.’ You know it’s ironic, I was trying to find him and sometimes it can be difficult to find players on our sideline,” Gundy said. “And I almost couldn’t find him and I thought ‘Well what the heck, I’m getting ready to miss the game.’ And then I thought ‘Well, I better go see him in case he has to kick one in at the end to win it. So I weaved through there and found him, not that I was a factor….ironically it ended up that we needed him to kick one late and then he did.”
Asked about West Virginia’s loss on a Houston Hail Mary pass, Gundy relived the Central Michigan loss.
OSU fans should be jaded by now, after all, it’s been seven seasons since Central Michigan’s remarkable upset. But here is your warning to avert your eyes.
In 2016, given an untimed down, CMU quarterback Cooper Rush threw a 42-yard pass to receiver Jesse Krull, who lateraled back to trailing receiver Corey Willis for a game-winning touchdown. Gundy was asked if he’d ever been involved in a game like that and how difficult it will be for West Virginia coach Neal Brown to rebound from a gut-wrenching loss against Houston on a hail mary.
“Well, I mean, I count it in the record book as a win, but Central Michigan,” Gundy said. “The officials lost the game. But, my point being is I get along with all the coaches, I don’t have any issues with any coaches. Neal is a good guy and you know is someone battling back from what the perception may be at West Virginia football when they’re playing pretty good. I don’t know what the record is now. But they could be whatever they are plus one more win real easy. So he’s done a great job up there.”
It wasn’t the only Hail Mary of a wacky week in college football. Colorado State beat Boise State with a 33-yard touchdown on the game’s final play. Gundy hadn’t stayed up to watch the late game, but got plenty of texts about it.
“That was way too late for me,” Gundy said.
With all these Hail Marys, is it something on the front of Gundy’s mind?
“We practice it in the spring, we practice it preseason and then we walk through it on Fridays,” Gundy said. “The reason you’re seeing more of them is because there’s more parity, the teams are closer together and so there’s more games when they’re close in the end and that’s why you’re seeing more Hail Marys.”
Gundy says he’s sticking “The Gundy.”
Wins against K-State and Kansas have injected some juice into the OSU postgame locker room. Saturday, Gundy celebrated with a handstand, a new variant on his traditional “Gundy” dance. He hasn’t given the new move a name.
“Well, it’s been ‘The Gundy’ for a while. I’d hate to change the name. I have gone to a handstand just recently to change it up a little bit to put a new spice to it,” he said.
Has the handstand always been in the repertoire?
“Ultimately, what I was going to do was walk on my hands across the locker room, but everybody was in the way so I just went with the handstand.”