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Mike Gundy not ready to name a defensive player


Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy is set to decide who will call the defensive plays this weekend.

But it won’t be official until Thursday, and until then, Gundy isn’t saying who yet.

He still offered some clues.

When the ninth-seeded Cowboys take to the field on Saturday against fifth-seeded Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl, the defensive staff will look different.

It is likely that two coaches will call for parts for a unit that has been ranked as one of the best in the country. Others could swap their positioning between the booth and the sideline.

“I have a pretty good idea of ​​what I want to do right now,” Gundy said Monday night at a Zoom press conference from Phoenix, “but I would hate to say that could change. I want to watch these workouts. up close and see how things are going with our coaches and their communication with the players, which is very important on match day.

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Over the past three weeks, Gundy has been keeping a closer eye on the defense following the departure of coordinator Jim Knowles, who held the same position at Ohio State after the Big 12 Championship Game.

And Gundy was pleasantly surprised by what he saw.

The coaching staff have been more impressive without Knowles than even Gundy expected.

“I’m going to be honest, when I started out I wasn’t sure anyone was up to Jim’s level because that was basically his system,” Gundy said. “The terminology and the system are important. Now we’ve turned it into a different concept over the past couple of years, but it was basically his to begin with.

“And I’m glad the other four guys in there are very, very up to date – for lack of a better term – on what we’re doing in terms of the pattern, the terminology defensively overall. “

Gundy insisted he won’t appoint a new defensive coordinator until the bowl game is over. But there are internal options.

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“I feel really good to say on Thursday that these are the two guys that I want to call games and that I want to watch and I want to listen on the sidelines like I do during games and see how things go,” a Gundy said. “But I also want them to be in a relaxed environment where they can just call a game and not worry about an audition. I want them to enjoy the moment.

“Our defense is going to play well. At the end of the day, the players play and the coaches don’t have much to do on game day. So that’s the advantage we have right now without Coach Knowles, is that the same guys will be on the pitch.

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COVID could impact the Fiesta Bowl

Gundy said a few Cowboys players have already tested positive for COVID-19 and he expects more this week before the game.

But OSU has no intention of not playing.

“We’re going to play this game unless we can’t find 11 players,” Gundy said.

Gundy said the Cowboys have taken the “ultimate” precautions and are back to full protocols like the 2020 season. Players are masked on the team bus and at team meetings. Team meetings have also been moved outside to the team hotel tennis courts.

Gundy said the team was tested before leaving Stillwater. In Phoenix, a player with symptoms will be tested.

Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman said the program follows its usual protocols.

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OSU coach Mike Gundy said he will name a defensive player on Thursday and there will likely be two coaches on staff.

“We have to be really smart,” Freeman said. “I think our team definitely understands the case and understands what we need to do. “

Freeman said players can’t treat the trip like a normal bowl trip.

But OSU officials don’t want to just lock down players on a bowl trip. Gundy said the players were going to Monday’s NBA game between the Suns and Memphis Grizzlies.

“They’re going to wear a mask and wear a mask on the bus,” Gundy said. “Are some players going to catch the virus? They probably are.

“But we are fully committed to playing this game 100%. And we don’t want anything more to be as healthy as possible and play this game, but also to be able to enjoy Scottsdale and be able to enjoy the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl.

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Bonus points

OSU super-senior center Danny Godlevske will not play due to his leg injury that cost him the last four games of the regular season. … Gundy said defensive lineman Jayden Jernigan and safety guard Tanner McCalister will play on Saturday despite entering the transfer gate. “They get down there to see what’s there. If it’s something they think is better, they might take it. Otherwise, they could come back.

Jacob Unruh covers college sports for The Oklahoman. You can send him your story ideas at [email protected] or on Twitter at @jacobunruh. Support his work and that of fellow Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.

Fiesta bowl

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