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Season not disappointment to Gundy

Two issues had to be deflected by Mike Gundy while the Oklahoma State coach spoke for his team after accepting a bid to the Camping World Bowl.

One, was his brief flirtation with Tennessee regarding its coaching opening, a position that prompted about a half-day of uncertainty before Gundy tweeted, "Cowboy For Life."

"I would rather just talk about the bowl game," said Gundy, who did gain a $675,000 raise (to $5 million a year) from Oklahoma State following a 9-3 finish that included a 6-3 conference run that left the third-place Cowboys out of the Big 12 championship game.

As for that letdown, after a championship matchup with Oklahoma was expected entering Big 12 play, Gundy was defiant that the Cowboys' regular season was not a disappointment.

"I know we all want to make the final four but winning nine games is difficult," said Gundy, "and I think the people will be really excited about being there and I think they'll be excited about a location where there's a lot to do."

That place would be Orlando, Fla., the destination the Cowboys were extended for a matchup against Virginia Tech (9-3) on Dec. 28. The Hokies posted a promising win in their opener against a Big 12 opponent, then-No. 22 West Virginia, but did not defeat another ranked opponent the remainder of the season.

The Cowboys' faults came at home, where they suffered all of their losses, to TCU, Oklahoma and Kansas State. Oklahoma State was 6-0 on the road.

Virginia Tech ranks fourth in the Bowl Subdivision with a 13.5-point defensive yield and also ranks 12th in total defense, allowing 305.3 yards per game.

"We'll have our hands full on offense," said Gundy, who credited longtime Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster. "I've them play a lot through the years. He's doing well like always. I'm sure we'll have our hands full on offense trying to score some points."

Usually that's not a problem. The Cowboys led the Big 12 and ranked third nationally with a 46.3-point average and ranked second nationally behind Oklahoma with a 575.7-yard average.

Senior quarterback Mason Rudolph and senior wide receiver James Washington set numerous Oklahoma State career records. The Cowboys' attack, however, features balance behind Justice Hill, the Big 12's top rusher, as well as other receivers, including Marcell Ateman, capable of making big plays.

"Everybody makes their own game plans and we don't really change much anyway," Gundy said. "We're going to run our same plays. We do what we do, and Virginia Tech is probably very similar to that. We use a lot of our bowl prep for improving our younger players to try and prepare for the next season as well as a bowl game."





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