September 1, 2008

Good win, but team needs to improve

It wasn't perfect by any stretch, but Oklahoma State picked up a win against Washington State and, in the end, that's all that really matters.

The 39-13 victory over the Cougars in Seattle seemed closer than the final score indicated at times. But anytime a team gets a 26-point win on the road, things can't be all that bad.

At Monday's media luncheon, head coach Mike Gundy talked about the margin and how it related to what he saw on the field.

"We just talked about it as a staff," Gundy said. "You know, you win by 39-13 and then you watch the tape and you wonder how you won by that many points, because there's still so many mistakes in college football."

When there are mistakes in games, it's typically easier for coaches to get the player's attention and work harder during the next week of practice. But the fourth-year coach of the Cowboys says that isn't a problem with his squad.

"It's never been an issue of keeping the guys focused and understanding there's a long way to go," he said. "We can get better in special teams, in defense and offensively we were pretty average, so I don't think that's ever been a problem - getting guys focused to play the next game."

Even so, Gundy said it was a good win for his program. He added that special teams were really big. Everyone knows about the returns by Perrish Cox and Dez Bryant, but Gundy said other players were a factor as well. Two he mentioned were Taylor Sokolovsky and Lucien Antonie, who played well inside on the blocking game.

One of the best things taken from the game had to be the rotation on defense. Gundy was especially happy about that.

"We were in proximity in coverage, rallied to the ball, were able to get some guys off their feet a bit," Gundy said. "For example, Jeray Chatham played 32 plays. Last year in the first game he played 65 or 68. Our plan there worked out well for us. We played 25 defensive players throughout the game, so we were pleased with that."

While the offense was OK overall, Gundy said there were problems in the red zone.

"Offensively, we did not play very well down inside the red zone," he said. "Everyone knows that. There were mistakes. After the game I thought our schemes weren't good. But in looking at the tape, seven out of the 10 times it was a mistake that was made somewhere within the 11 players on the field. Now the coaches may have not had them prepared for it to the best that we can or we could, but it's not something from an X's and O's standpoint that we can't correct."

While execution on offense was a problem at times, Gundy believed a lot of that stemmed from two things - the crowd noise and just not knowing what to expect from a team in the Cougars who had a new coaching staff and no real film evidence of what schemes they'd use. Especially early in the game when the Cougars forced OSU to settle for a field goal.

"They jumped in a front we had never seen, so it limited what we could do," Gundy said. "It was pretty smart on their part. They did a nice job. The adjustments we made as the game went on, but early in the first quarter we weren't able to get to those adjustments fast enough. Then at halftime we could do it and we had more success in the second half. Coach (Joe) Wickline and those guys got it figured out and we were able to make some adjustments."

And that noise?

"We didn't have didn't have any issues with playcalling communication or getting the play out there," he said. "We had to call a time out one time because we couldn't hear. We had some issues early in the game going down (south into the bowled-in side of Qwest Field) and we couldn't communicate. And so we had some noise problems. As far as communication with the coaches and getting everything in, we were standing there waiting a lot, we had a lot of time, so we felt pretty good about that."

TIME KEEPS ON TICKIN' TICKIN' TICKIN'…
One of the changes for this college football season is the implementation of a 40-second play clock. On every play aside from the first possession of a drive, a 40-second countdown will begin immediately after the end of the last play. This is a move hoped to make games shorter (as they were in 2006) but increase plays and scoring (as it was before the rule change and in 2007, when it was changed back). In the case of the OSU-WSU game, Gundy said the game was played in 2 hours, 50 minutes. That included 52 passes in the game.

"That's a pretty fast game for teams that throw," Gundy said. "I don't think there's any question the games are going to play faster."

Does he like the new rule?

"I do. I like the clock rules because I think it creates more consistency and stability in the way the different officiating crews start the clock when the ball is set. Generally, there's been a discrepancy between 12-16 seconds when the play is stopped and when they set it and think everything is okay and they start a 25 second clock. Well, four seconds is a lot when you run a no-huddle offense. Now, they just pick it up and put it down. There is no discrepancy - it's the same for everybody."

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