A new mindset and a reality check is exactly what the Oklahoma State Cowboys needed going into last Saturday’s matchup against Iowa State where the Pokes fought their way back into the win column with a 34-27 win over the Cyclones.
Head coach of the Cowboys Mike Gundy made three things clear on the Monday leading up to the ISU matchup:
1). The Cowboys had not played to the best of their ability during their losses to Texas Tech and Baylor.
2). The coaches needed to reconvene and better help execute successful plays for the players.
3). OSU fans needed to remain loyal to their team.
With adjustments made in practices and meeting during last week, the Cowboys were able to prove themselves against a powerful Iowa State team riding a three-game winning streak and bring a win back to Stillwater.
Coach Gundy met with the media at his weekly press conference on Monday to preview the challenges TCU will bring to Stillwater on Saturday and share his thoughts on the progression of his team.
“This will be a real challenge for our team,” Gundy said. “We’re excited for it, and we are ready for it. TCU is really good on defense. I think that will be fun for us.”
Cowboy wide receiver Tylan Wallace was a standout in last Saturday’s win where he picked up 131 yards on eight receptions and had one touchdown.
His most notable play came with 6:40 left in the first quarter as Wallace book four tackles, utilizing a stiff-arm stop to an Iowa State defender, and running for 71 yards to put the Cowboys on the board first at 7-0.
Gundy compared Wallace’s performance on Saturday to Dez Bryant and praised him highly on his resiliency.
“He’s not scared,” Gundy said. “You don’t see a lot of that in today’s game. He’s an explosive type of athlete. That was about as good of a football play as I’ve seen in a long time.”
Players like Wallace and Chuba Hubbard have made some noise in the Big 12 this season, and with 116 yards on 22 carries and one touchdown, Hubbard will present a challenge to this TCU defense as well.
“We’ve been fortunate here,” Gundy said. “We’ve had Dez, Kendall [Hunter], [Justin] Blackmon, [Justice] Hill, and [James] Washington. They carry our program. We’re fortunate to have players who play on the edge.”
Even as the leader in rushing yards for college football, Hubbard recognizes great defense and agrees that TCU will be a challenge the Cowboys will have to work hard to overcome.
“They play hard and physical,” Hubbard said. “Pretty sure they are the best defense in the Big 12. They do a great job with everything they do, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Although Hubbard and Wallace are consistent players who deserve recognition, it was Linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez who solidified the win for the Pokes and came out the hero.
“He’s highly intelligent,” Gundy said. “He’s a wrestler, and he’s mentally and physically tough. He’s a perfect fit for us for what we’re asking him to do for us.”
Rodriguez’s big play came at the 6:47 mark of the fourth quarter when the game was tied at 27. Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy threw his third interception of the game to Rodriguez who returned it for a 26-yard touchdown.
A strong defensive performance from the Pokes kept Iowa State off the board for good after this, and the Cowboys would go on to win the game.
“They all gave me congratulations, and I told them thank you,” Rodriguez said. “It’s on to the next one though, so we have to worry about TCU.”