It was all business for Mike Gundy during his weekly media conference as he is going to be with any road game.
With Oklahoma State traveling to play Pittsburgh in the Cowboys' first Saturday game of the season, Gundy discussed the state of the team and especially the defense after the 44-7 dismantling of South Alabama during Monday's press conference.
Gundy confirmed that redshirt sophomore linebacker Kevin Henry was out for the season with a knee injury. With star linebacker Calvin Bundage suspended for the first half of the Pitt game because of a targeting call in the Friday game, Gundy will have to rely on junior Kenneth Edison-McGruder, who didn’t play against South Alabama.
Even with the team’s injuries and suspensions in the linebacker corps, Gundy said he feels confident that the defense will maintain its productivity.
“I thought we had more guys that could play in a game than we've had over the last couple of years,” Gundy said. “I think you're seeing a bit of that right now. Obviously, we lost Kevin Henry. We won't have Calvin Bundage for the first half this week and Kenneth Edison-McGruder is day-to-day. So, we might have to have some of our guys playing a little more, but I think our team speed has been better than it has in recent years."
The Cowboys were involved in a 45-38 shootout last year with the Panthers and though the offense for Pitt is different, Gundy hopes there isn’t another game like it.
“They’re coming along. We’re obviously young, and the teams we play know that," Gundy said. "I’m sure Pittsburgh is going to run their play stuff and run (wide receiver Quadree Henderson) down the field, throw it over our head and challenge us. Limiting big plays is important. Last year, that was one of the issues we had in giving up big plays in the secondary. It’s give and take. Unless you’re just ultimately talented where you can press and challenge every throw, sometimes you give up (short gains) to be sound in the deep stuff. There’s give and take there.”
Hunting is more important than other Big 12 games
While Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield was controversially planting a flag in the turf at Ohio State’s Stadium on Saturday, Gundy was in the woods hunting turtles.
Gundy saw the scores of other Big 12 games and got to see the stats from the OU game, but he was enjoying his time out shooting skeet and using his Gator to help catch the amphibious creatures.
“They know you get around and they jump in the water,” Gundy said. “You got to kind of sneak up on them a little bit. At my place, we have quite a few of those Gators. They’re accustomed to the sound of a Gator, so if you drive a Gator by, they don’t move, they will stay there but if you walk up on them, you can’t get very close to them because they are too smart. They will jump off in the water so we will use the Gators as our friend and keep as many turtles as we can out of the ponds because they eat the fish.”
Cowboys excited to play in NFL stadium, but still “all business”
Wit Pitt playing in the Steelers' stadium at Heinz Field – opened in 2001 – Gundy said he and the team would enjoy getting to see an NFL stadium up close.
“I think they are excited to play in this setting,” Gundy said. “I know I’m excited in seeing the facility and all that. I’m a fan and have always watched Pittsburgh so I’m excited about seeing this new facility. I would say they probably enjoy being in the locker room and being in that environment.”
However, while it will be a neat experience, Gundy maintained the fact that it is a business trip for the last nonconference game before playing TCU at 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 23.
“We have to continue to work hard in all three phases to try and get a little better each week. We'll head out of here Friday morning, fly across the country and play another game."