STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Following a disappointing loss that dealt a serious blow to its Big 12 Championship dreams, not to mention the possibility of landing in the College Football Playoff, No. 15 Oklahoma State is not going to panic or make sweeping changes.
Oklahoma State (3-1, 0-1 Big 12) plummeted from No. 6 in the rankings after falling 44-31 at home last Saturday to TCU, which moved up to No. 9. The Cowboys are trying to keep their emotions in check as they prepare for their next game, this Saturday at Texas Tech (3-0, 0-0).
“The outside world takes wins and losses different than we do,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said Monday. “We try to stay level-headed, even with the wins. People outside of the program celebrate the wins and go crazy, but we know, in our world, we have a body of work that we have to get accomplished every week. I hope that our guys understand that from the history of this program, and I think they do.”
Gundy said he will be looking to ensure his players are engaged and determined in practice throughout the week as they prepare for Texas Tech, which is coming off a 27-24 road win over Houston.
“(I look at) their intensity and focus in practice, which last week was excellent,” Gundy said. “So I don’t know if I’m looking for the right tools. But last week, their focus in practice was awesome. That’s the thing that we can hang our hat on. The only thing we can ever ask is preparation and focus, avoid distractions. Before the Pitt game (a 59-21 victory on the road Sept. 16), we had a ton of distractions. Before last week, we didn’t have any distractions.”
Gundy also addressed some of the issues that contributed to the defeat, such as four turnovers (two in the fourth quarter), allowing TCU to convert 10 of 14 third downs through the first three quarters and losing the time of possession battle, 39:04 to 20:56.
He was also disappointed that the Cowboys gained just 101 yards rushing, especially when TCU’s defense was deliberately keeping its safeties deep to protect against the pass. He did note that “we were just a step away five or six times from a 5-yard run being a 15- or 20-yard run.”
Oklahoma State’s third-down defense is ranked 112th in the nation out of 130 teams after four games.
“It was something different each play, and we have to continue to work at it,” Gundy said. “Those are key downs that you’ve got to get off the field, because time of possession here doesn’t mean much in our (high-tempo) offense, but the first three-and-out we had on defense was in the fourth quarter. We let them extend on third-and-medium and third-and-longs, which are generally 33 percent or less — we let them extend multiple times. And we didn’t run the ball as effectively this time, so when you tie all that up, we were crushed in the time of possession.”
Ultimately, Gundy said his team will make a few adjustments, but no wholesale, dramatic changes.
“You lose a game that you feel like you could have won if you’d played better, but certainly, we didn’t give them the game,” Gundy said. “We made mistakes, but they played well enough to win. So you don’t sell the farm and change what you’re doing, like a lot of people would like. You make minor corrections that are actually feasible to manage within a two- or three-day period to get ready to play again. And we played some young players. We try to coach them up and try to get them ready to go play again. That’s really what you do. You don’t have any other options in that scenario.
“Some of it was self-inflicted. TCU was a big factor in some of it, and sometimes we couldn’t get the dang ball to bounce where we wanted it to.”