Gundy Preaches Work and Future in Texas Bowl Locker Room
HOUSTON, Texas -- Some of the senior were staring around the locker room knowing this was the last time they would be in this situation in college. Their final game as a Cowboy was over and it was a 24-21 loss in the Texas Bowl to snap a three-bowl game winning streak for the program and a long awaited continuation of a four-game win streak over Texas A&M.
Maybe the Cowboys should have run the ball more when they popped out to that early lead. Perhaps playing the mobile Spencer Sanders at quarterback would have helped. The special teams sure could have helped with either a made field goal or some better punts or both. Defensively, losing track and missing tackles on Aggies quarterback Kellen Mond was a difference maker in the outcome. Heck, Mond was the MVP in the contest with his 117-yards rushing and 67-yard touchdown that gave Texas A&M their first lead.
However, in the Oklahoma State locker room, head coach Mike Gundy was using some verbal bombs, but not out of anger or disappointment. Gundy wouldn't let any of his players sulk. He gathered the senior class up front with him and stood on a chair and praised the smallest senior class in his time as head coach for their leadership.
Gundy then looked out at his players that are returning or, in the case of star running back and 2,094-yard rusher Chuba Hubbard may decide to return or may go to the NFL, and told them to get ready to work. He told them he would be in his office on Sunday. That the coaching staff would get to work next week and review what was good, decide what was bad, then make the needed changes to make things better. He challenged them to work so hard they'd run strength coach Rob Glass and his staff right out of the weight room. He promised if they did that, the talent in the room was good enough to beat teams like Texas A&M, it was good enough and could be developed into a Big 12 championship contender.
Gundy was on a roll and I half expected a line somewhere along the line of did we quit when the "Germans bombed Pearl Harbor." If Gundy was trying to talk himself out of being depressed over losing the game and falling to 8-5 on the season, he was doing a good job. Let's just say his words weren't lost on the returning players or the seniors.
"Very special, I think we can tackle the Big 12 next year, win the Big 12 Championship," said an ever improving Braydon Johnson and the red-shirt sophomore wide receiver caught five passes for 124-yards and two touchdowns including a 42-yard touchdown to open the scoring.
"I think he is very happy about the future and so are we," said red-shirt freshman Jason Taylor II, who had eight tackles in getting the start at safety. "We have a lot of cats coming back that can play."
"Yes, this team is young and Coach Gundy talked about discipline and it is so unusual to have a young group like this and be disciplined and that is a testament to the senior that we had and the job that they did," said Hubbard, who rushed for 158-yards on 19 carries and averaged 8.3-yards a carry. Hubbard has some 23 days to make his decision as to whether he will be back with all of his young teammates.
The 2019 season is over and 8-5 is not what anybody wanted in August or in the days leading up to the Texas Bowl. Soon the year 2019 will be over
No excuses; Oklahoma State, at times, got bullied by Texas A&M. There is work to do. To know that Mike Gundy is planning to be in his office on Sunday to work on improving his team, working on signing the five or six recruits that he and his staff want to sign in February, and that he is already pushing his players to being thinking about doing the same should make you feel better. Not about the Texas Bowl, but about next season. It is kind of like steering some 200 players, coaches, and support staff toward a New Year's resolution of getting better. I'll drink to that. If Chuba wants to come back, well, I'll toast that too.