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Oklahoma State notebook: Zack Craig's punt blocks spark special teams

by Scott Wright and John Helsley Published: November 17, 2012

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy downplayed the impact that assistant Ty Linder had on Saturday's special teams success, primarily Zack Craig's two blocked punts, one of which the junior picked up and returned for a touchdown in the Cowboys 59-21 win over Texas Tech.

But Craig felt Linder brought some inside knowledge.

Linder was on the Tech staff last season, but joined the Cowboys as a graduate assistant, and was put in charge of special teams, which he also coached with the Red Raiders.

“You could tell he knew more this week than in a normal week,” Craig said. “He's a great coach overall, and this was a big win for him, coming from Tech. He was very prepared for this week.”

Linder made an adjustment in Craig's path to the punter, telling him to reach to the side for the block, rather than a more common direct approach toward the punter.

“The first time I tried it in practice, I blocked it,” Craig said. “We knew their shield was kind of soft. Ryan Simmons gave great pressure up the middle, gave me a short edge, and I was able to stick my hand out twice and block both of them.”

Craig's first block set the OSU offense up for a quick score for a 28-7 lead in the second quarter. After his second block, Craig stumbled around, then found the ball and was able to run it in for a TD early in the fourth quarter for OSU's final TD.

“I almost fell picking it up. Luckily I was able to keep my feet and go in and score,” he said. “It was my first touchdown as a Cowboy, and a great experience.”

OSU had not blocked a punt since Nov. 20, 2010, against Kansas. Texas Tech hadn't allowed a punt to be blocked since 2008.

RAIDERS' SILENT NIGHT

Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said his team's morale was good after Saturday's loss. And you'll have to take his word for it.

Tuberville made the decision that none of his players would speak to the media after a tough loss and a tumultuous week dating back to last week's incident with Tuberville in which he knocked the headset off a graduate assistant's head during a game at Kansas.

“Our morale is good,” Tuberville said Saturday night. “We had our best practices last week. I have no problem with the effort and how the guys go into each game and compete. We're our own worst enemy in a lot of ways. It's been a long eight games, but we'll bounce back.”

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by Scott Wright
Reporter
A lifelong resident of the Oklahoma City metro area, Scott Wright has been on The Oklahoman staff since 2005, covering a little bit of everything on the state's sports scene. He has been a beat writer for football and basketball at Oklahoma and...
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by John Helsley
OSU Reporter Sr.
John Helsley grew up in Del City, reading all the newspapers and sports magazines he could get his hands on. And Saturday afternoons, when the Major League Game of the Week was on, he'd keep a scorecard for the game. So the sports appeal was was...
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