STILLWATER — Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy notices it almost everywhere he goes.
When he's out to dinner with his family. When he's walking around the OSU campus. When he's running errands around Stillwater.
More people are wearing orange. More people are talking about the Cowboys.
With just more than a week until OSU kicks off the 2011 season against Louisiana-Lafayette and with school back in session, the preseason hype surrounding the No. 9 Cowboys keeps growing.
But while Gundy has largely orchestrated this type of buzz at his alma mater and “dream job,” he said it means more to him that others associated with the program get to enjoy the excitement that comes with last season's success and this season's expectations.
“I'm happy for the players, because they work extremely hard,” Gundy said at Thursday's press conference, the last before the opener. “I'm happy for the board of regents, the administration, the people that have lived here and have been in this state and have been Cowboy fans for 50 years that can hold their head high.”
Here's a look at what else Gundy said during Thursday's press conference:
On the development of the defense:
“We have to get inside linebacker play from guys that nobody knows who they are. I had mentioned to the team that nobody really knew who (Justin) Blackmon and (Brandon) Weeden were last year, either, except the local media. So there's an opportunity for guys to step up and make plays. How some of those guys mature and how they develop early in the season and as the season progresses, nobody knows. But hopefully we've instilled the right information in them and they're trained and they'll continue to get better and they'll live up to the expectations of the team.”
On Weeden's place among the nation's elite quarterbacks:
“It's hard for me to say, because I don't know what's out there. I know that I wouldn't trade him for anybody. There are good ones in this league. The guy in Norman (Landry Jones) is playing good, the guy in College Station (Ryan Tannehill) is playing good, the guy down in Waco (Robert Griffin) played well, just to name a few that we compete against. So I don't know what's out there. But his personality, his ability, what he's given to this team and how he's developed, I wouldn't trade him for anybody in the country. After watching him in the spring, I think he'll play this game for a long time from here on out, because he's put together to do it. He's bought in and he's willing to play with pain and learn and do all the things it takes to be a good quarterback.”
On the consistency of the offensive line:
“I hate to give (offensive line coach Joe Wickline) too much credit, but he's kind of a solider and keeps his head down and does what you ask him to do and he finds a way to get a lot of results out of players. Some guys have that ability as coaches, and some guys don't. We've gone through quite a transition here on offense in seven years. We've been able to get really good results out of our linemen. (Wickline) does a nice job with that, but I also think that we're recruiting the right guys. We're bringing guys in here that other schools may not want because of either height, strength or some other reason. “
On the Cowboys' approach against Louisiana-Lafayette, which has a new coaching staff:
“I think we have a decent idea of what they're going to do on both sides of the ball, but you don't really know. They could show up in something (different) and it wouldn't surprise us. Our approach to a game like this is to play sound base defense and run to the ball and tackle, and offensively, to get the ball in the hands that can win the game for you.”
On the plan to play 6-8 freshmen this season:
“One, because of the extra plays, we need young guys to contribute. And two, they're coming out of high school more prepared now than they ever have been before. The high school football in the state of Oklahoma is better, and the high school football in Texas is obviously good. So those guys are coming out ready to play. Because of that, more players are competing as freshmen. And to add to that, if they're really good, you're only going to have them here three years anyway, so you might as well get your time out of them.”
On if a uniform combination for the season-opener has been selected yet:
“Yes. I don't know what they are, but I do know they're decided on. And I honestly don't know what they picked. We got a group of guys together, some veteran players, and honestly I don't know who they are, either. Our equipment staff put together several (combinations), like 15 or 20 of them. I know Weeden was on there, I think Markelle (Martin) was on there. I think there may have been 4, 6, or 7 guys and they decided which ones they wanted to wear, and I said, ‘That's perfect.'”