OSU football: Mike Gundy hopeful about return of injured players
STILLWATER — Mike Gundy didn’t want to make any projections, nor did he want to share too much information about his players’ health, but the Oklahoma State coach sounded hopeful that at least a few of his injured players will be back for Bedlam.
The No. 14 Cowboys face No. 18 OU at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Owen Field in Norman, and coming off an open week, the Pokes desperately needed to get healthy.
“There are no secrets, we limped our way through Kansas State,” Gundy said of the 20-18 win over the Wildcats on Nov. 7. “I’ll be real honest with you, I had real concerns about what direction we were gonna go in that game. Fortunately, we got really good play in special teams and defense. Offensively, we just haven’t had very many guys that are practicing.
“I’m hoping we’ll have a majority of those guys back.”
Gundy previously said running backs Chuba Hubbard and LD Brown — both dealing with leg injuries — had little or no practice time in the week before the K-State game. Both played, but had moments when they left the field because of their injuries.
Star receiver Tylan Wallace didn’t play any snaps at Kansas State with an undisclosed muscle strain, but considering he was on the field for the Wildcats’ late onside kick attempt, it seems likely that Wallace will be healthy enough to play on Saturday.
Gundy didn’t address offensive line injuries other than to say “we’re down three offensive linemen,” suggesting that none of the injured players there would be back.
On defense, safety Tre Sterling has been playing through an ankle injury and Kolby Harvell-Peel missed the K-State game with a leg injury, but could return this week.
“I think we’re getting healthy in different areas,” Gundy said. “We’ve got a ways to go. It’s really hard for me to say, six days out, where we’ll be, but hopefully, we’ll have the guys that we need to be up and running and play at a high level Saturday.”
Stevenson poses big test for Cowboy defense
While Oklahoma State has been one of the Big 12’s best defenses this season, the Cowboys have been a middle-of-the-pack team against the run.
OSU is allowing 142.5 yards per game on the ground, getting hit particularly hard by Iowa State and Kansas State, which each rushed for 227 yards.
OU enters with a rushing offense that got a boost in the last two games with the return of Rhamondre Stevenson from suspension.
The 6-foot, 246-pound senior has produced 264 yards from scrimmage in his two games — against Texas Tech and Kansas — with 191 on the ground and 73 on receptions.
Stevenson outweighs most of the defenders that will be trying to tackle him on Saturday.
“They’re definitely better with him in there, I’ll tell you that,” Gundy said of the OU run game. “We’ve faced different kinds of backs, but ultimately, you’re going to have a guy that gonna show up in those areas and you have to be able to get those guys on the ground and limit big plays.”
Gundy on OU freshman quarterback Spencer Rattler: “Well, he’s a much better player now than he was six weeks ago. He’s getting some games under his belt and getting adjusted a little bit and making plays. Obviously, he’s got a strong arm, he’s got some savvy. He can move around, make some plays with his legs. He’s come quite a ways in four or five weeks.”