Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy and members of the team visited with the media Monday in Boone Pickens Stadium to preview this week's Bedlam Series clash against Oklahoma in Norman.
Game-time is set for 2:30 PM and can be seen on ESPN.
Head Coach Mike Gundy
On the progress the team has made throughout the season:
"It's been an unusual season, but very gratifying for our coaching staff - myself included - and our players. It starts with the three young men who have played quarterback for us. I think the best way to describe it is sometimes when you have a quarterback controversy or a two or three quarterback system team members can pick a side. That hasn't happened with our team and we've been very fortunate. I think the reason why is all three players are unselfish. They come from good families and are raised right. They've bought into the system and the supporting staff has been very good. That's been its own soap opera for the most part, but a good one. Defensively, I feel like this is the best defense we've had since I've been the head coach here and I've thought that from the start of the season. We started out slow. I'm not sure why. We weren't healthy the first month. We had guys who played on Saturday who didn't practice much during the week. Then Lyndell Johnson was out for about five weeks and it limited us on the packages we had available on a Saturday. I think they've gotten better over the last month. Their chemistry as a group has been very impressive. Then on special teams we were just okay and played poorly at Kansas State. Then the last couple weeks we've been better. The coaching, the growing that has taken place with this football team has really been an enjoyable experience for our staff."
On Texas Tech being a pivotal game:
"I think that when you play at home you really have to take advantage. The percentage and the history of the game will tell you that you have to take advantage of your home games. Going on the road, playing Oklahoma where they're ranked now and then playing Baylor and we saw what they are capable of Saturday night. But we've gone through this. We've had a difficult task. I don't know how many teams we've played this year that have been ranked at one time or another. We're playing Oklahoma who is obviously ranked highly and Baylor has been ranked this season. Every game is important, but you certainly want to take advantage of your home field. "
On special teams:
"We've gotten much better. The players have bought into the system and our game plan each week. It comes down to them. They have to want to do it and we have to put them in that position. Zack Craig did a really nice job last week. Obviously blocking two punts during one game or even in a season is hard. Zack likes to play football. It's important to him and he worked hard and studied tape and it paid off for him against Texas Tech."
On what Quinn Sharp needs to do the next few weeks:
"He needs to continue to play like he has over the last four years. In my opinion he's the best special teams player in the country and there are some good ones out there. Most notably are the ones who return punts and kickoffs. What he's accomplished here with his kickoffs and his punting and his field goal work is pretty impressive."
What makes Bedlam so special:
"We don't have professional football in the state of Oklahoma and so this is the big game. People go to work in orange or red and they pick a side. The players know each other from high school football. Most of the players on our team came from Oklahoma or Texas. They are familiar with each other and the coaching staffs know each other. I think that's why it is different than the other rivalries across the country."
Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken
"Like anything, if you want to win the conference or be considered a good program, you have to beat the teams who are usually on top. Things only become rivalries when you make them competitive for a championship. For years, Michigan-Ohio State meant a lot because it was considered the Big Ten championship. Same thing for years with Florida and Tennessee. that's what you want it to be--where it's competitive on both ends. Obviously, they're in the same state as we are. When you have a program as successful as theirs, that's where you aspire to be. You want to be somewhere where you have a chance to win every game and I think Mike Gundy has done a great job of getting us to that point."
On what makes Norman such a difficult place to play:
"Well, anytime you play on the road, it's hard. It's hard to win on the road anyway, but it's harder to win on the road against teams who are well-coached and have really good players. Over the last couple years our place has become difficult to play. Why? Because we have good coaches and good players. Obviously the crowd, but the players and coaches also make it a tough place to play."
On what West Virginia was able to do on offense against OU:
"Well, we are different teams. I'm not sure we can do what they did. We don't have Tavon Austin to put in our backfield. The guy is a special player. Every week is different. OU does a really good job, they're well-coached and they have really good players. I don't see it as one week a team did this, another, this. Otherwise, someone can look at what we did at Kansas and say we're not any good on offense, which isn't true."
On OU's talent in their defensive backfield:
"They match up well with you. They aren't afraid to put extra defensive backs on the field. They made a conscientious decision, you can see it on film, to matchup with you and force you to execute. They'll put athletic guys out there who have a chance to cover you. In a league that throws it a bunch, that's smart. We have to figure out ways that we can run it and throw it effectively. That's the challenge--they're going to match you athletically."
Defensive Coordinator Bill Young
On the momentum gained from Saturday's win:
"It was a great win against a very good football team. When it came down to it, we needed to win that game--in fact, we need to win out to get where we want to go. We have a huge, huge task at hand this week."
On what OSU must do defensively to win Saturday:
"We have to get turnovers and put tremendous pressure on the quarterback. If we don't do those two things, we don't have a chance. And then, obviously in any game you play, you have to be strong stopping the run."
On Landry Jones:
"He presents a huge challenge. He'll be a top pick at quarterback in the NFL draft, and he has a great group of players surrounding him. He has an excellent fullback who is a heck of a ball carrier himself, a big and physical veteran offensive line and an outstanding group of receivers. It's going to be a task."
On the emotions associated with Bedlam:
"I think they have to play within themselves, no question. You can get real excited, pat your chest, go out there and not do anything. The big thing is for us to play solid football. It's not the pregame warm up or seeing who can talk over each other. It's about who plays, carries out their assignment, tackles and chases the ball."
Wide Receiver Isaiah Anderson
On OU's Defense
"They have the same fronts and coverages that they had last year so we're going to go out with a game plan that Coach Monken has for us and we'll execute."
"Here, people start camping out Monday or Tuesday to try to get into the stadium first. And the fans there are crazy, they'll be yelling the whole game. OU's stadium is one of the loudest I've played in since the time I've been here. So we just have to keep our composure and play the best we can. It's not really just another game for us, that's our rival and if we win we get the bragging rights for the rest of the year, like we did last year. Hopefully we'll come out on top."
"My favorite memory of Thanksgiving would be sitting back and watching football with my grandpa. I'm thankful to be surrounded by the people we have on our team, especially with it being my last year. It's been a blast and I've enjoyed being around them."
On OSU's unique quarterback situation
"This is the first time I've caught a pass from three different quarterbacks in a single season. I have chemistry with all three of them so whoever plays on Saturday we'll be able to execute with them fine."
Fullback Kye Staley
On OU's Defense
"There's not a lot of difference from last year and this year. They look pretty good on film and we'll just stick with Coach Monken's plan."
"It's pandemonium. Back at Guthrie, there were a lot of OU and OSU fans, it was really a school divided. I broke a lot of hearts when I came here, but back at Guthrie everyone supports me whether they are OU or OSU fans. I have no bad blood between us but we want to beat them and show them that we're the best in the state."
Offensive Lineman Lane Taylor
On what makes the Bedlam game different from other games:
"More is at stake. We always end up playing Oklahoma at the end of the year, so a lot is on the line. They're only an hour and a half down the road, so we want to have bragging rights."
On OU's defense compared to last year:
"They're about the same. They have good athletes on the perimeter, big guys up front. They're just a solid defense. They have always been like that, and they're like that this year as well."
On if the offense has more confidence going into Bedlam after the OU-WVU game:
"They were talking on TV about how they need to tackle better. I'm sure that's what they'll be harping on this week. All I know is that they give us their best game every time they play us."
Offensive Lineman Brandon Webb
On whether there's a Bedlam feud between him and his dad who played at OU:
"Between my dad and I, there isn't too much of a feud because my dad is always on my side. My brother might be a different story because he grew up the same way I did, as an OU fan. He's still an OU fan. He likes to poke fun. But with my dad, he's on my side 24/7."
On finally earning a spot in the starting lineup:
"It's been a long process. I had to adjust to the speed of the game, get my strength up, and just learn the offense and learn to play faster."
On preparing for the hostile atmosphere in Norman:
"We're pretty close, so all we have to do is communicate. We have to make sure what we're doing passes all the way down the line. You just have to be loud and communicate well."
Running Back Jeremy Smith
On OU's recent struggles with defending the run:
"That's great motivation for us, especially since the coaches trust us running backs to be able to get the job done. Last year, coach told us going into the game that we were going to run the ball. That's what we did last year, and this year I hope it's the same way. We're ready."
On what last year's Bedlam win does for the team's confidence this year:
"I'm trying to get a win streak started, and hopefully we can do that. We need to go out there and do our thing. We can't turn the ball over or anything like that. We have to stay on top of our game and stay focused so we can go out there and get that win."
On what this rivalry means to him:
"Of course, I've always been an Oklahoma State fan. This has always been a really important game. I've watched it every year since I was growing up. I'm ready for it. I'm just excited to be a part of it, and being able to actually play in the game - this is nice. I can't wait."
Linebacker Cooper Bassett
On Bedlam's importance to Oklahoma natives:
"It's a big game for everyone, everyone wants it just as badly, but I think for the guys from Oklahoma who know the history of the series, know the hatred, know how deep those lines run, they may know a little more about it. But the desire to win, and to beat OU is the same for everyone on the team."
On the difference between starting in the Bedlam game to a regular season game:
"You don't see Texas Tech fans every day of your life after the Tech game, but living in Oklahoma and going to Oklahoma State, you see OU fans every day. You read the paper, even when you get on your Facebook or Twitter account some of your friends are OU fans and you're going to hear it from them for the rest of the year. It's bragging rights for 364 days until the next game. That's what the biggest thing about it is. When you're a little kid, playing in the backyard with one of your buddies you want to win, but when you're playing against your little brother or your big brother you really want to win because it's that extra rivalry. That's what differentiates from playing other teams."
On the importance of last year's victory for the program:
"It was huge after we had lost eight straight. But the biggest thing was to beat them to win the Big 12 championship. You could have asked anyone on the team, we would all rather have taken the Big 12 championship over the Bedlam championship. It was really nice to get them both at the same time - that was pretty awesome. But the biggest feat that we accomplished last year was the Big 12 championship. I think it just kind of proves that OSU isn't the little brother anymore. We are a team that is nationally ranked every year, we're a team that gets great recruits every year, we are the defending Big 12 champion. So it's not the same little brother-big brother effect anymore. I think that the gap is being closed immensely. OSU is here. Like I said last week, we aren't just a flash in the pan program, we are a program that is going to be here for many, many years because of the great job of Coach Gundy and the coaching staff and the athletic department has done to build us up to what we are now."
Linebacker Caleb Lavey
On last year's victory against OU:
"It definitely gave us momentum going into the bowl. It was a lot of fun to get the victory, especially for those seniors. It just topped off the regular season, and it was the perfect way to end a regular season in the Big 12."
On this week's game against OU:
"We've got a little confidence behind us. At the beginning of the year, we were giving up too many points. We weren't getting enough turnovers, and by no means have we arrived to where we want to be. We're definitely going to have to put in a lot of work this week, and hopefully, we'll be ready by game time."
Kicker/punter Quinn Sharp
On this week's Bedlam game:
"It's going to be a big game for us. They're going to be prepared. We're going into their place, and they've already had two home losses, and I'm sure they don't want another one, especially against their rival. For us to finish strong and get these last three wins coming into the bowl game would be really nice. We're very confident in ourselves, and we've been playing really well the last month."
On what OSU needs to do to get a Bedlam victory:
"I think we have to play sound football. I think everybody has to believe in each other. We can't shoot ourselves in the foot. We can't have turnovers or dumb penalties. We need to come up with big plays on special teams. I think that's what it will come down to."
Safety Daytawion Lowe
On last year's Bedlam win:
"It gave us a lot of confidence. It gave the fans a lot of confidence and gave them what they've been waiting for. It had been a while since we beat them, and I think it uplifted the program."
On what Bedlam means to him:
"I'm an Oklahoma guy, and it's the battle between the best teams in Oklahoma. I want to be on the best college football team in Oklahoma. When it comes down to it, it is just another football game. At the same time, the school is only an hour and a half away from you so it's a big rivalry. You have to prepare and stay focused."