OSU football notebook: Healthy defense
BY JIMMIE TRAMEL World Sports Writer
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
11/14/12 at 2:23 AM
The biggest story of Oklahoma State's season thus far? The Cowboys managed to clinch bowl eligibility despite injuries to No. 1 quarterback Wes Lunt and No. 2 quarterback J.W. Walsh. OSU also has overcome injuries to senior receivers Tracy Moore and Isaiah Anderson to rank third nationally in scoring.
But the plague of injuries has been limited to players on one side of the ball. Starters have played every game at nine of 11 defensive positions. Linebacker Alex Elkins missed one game with a head injury, and defensive lineman Cooper Bassett was in and out of the lineup with an ankle injury.
Defensive coordinator Bill Young attributed his unit's clean bill of health to head coach Mike Gundy staging practices in a manner that prioritizes player safety.
"In spring ball, we didn't scrimmage," Young said. "We didn't put the ballcarrier on the ground except in the spring game. Your body can only take so many hits."
OSU used the same approach in preseason drills.
"In turn, our players are much fresher and more healthy than probably a lot of people in the country," Young said.
The Cowboys have absorbed injuries to players in backup roles, but Gundy told reporters his team got healthy on defense during an October stretch in which three consecutive league opponents were held to 14 or fewer points. Linebacker Lyndell Johnson is among reserve defenders who got healthy and has made impact plays.
Saying goodbye: OSU will bid farewell to 18 seniors in a ceremony prior to Saturday's home game against Texas Tech. Also, two players (defensive back Yves Batoba, receiver Colby Ellis) who are juniors athletically and seniors academically will participate in the ceremony because they are on schedule to graduate and do not intend to return next season.
Common denominator: What does Gundy have in common with Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville? Both of their names have been mentioned in connection with the Arkansas job.
"I never listen to that," Tuberville said when asked about his name being tossed out for other positions.
"That's all message board stuff. We're happy here. We're excited. When I came here I wanted (sons) Tucker and Troy to both graduate here. I'm tired of moving them around. But (job speculation is) good. I mean, other people might think that you've won a game or two in your lifetime. But I never get caught up in that. It drives you nuts."
Gundy declined comment Monday when asked about reports linking him to the Arkansas job.
Can't win 'em all: OSU evaluated Texas A&M's suddenly famous quarterback - his nickname is "Johnny Football" - but did not pursue him because of height. And Gundy said he doesn't know if Johnny Manziel, listed at 6-foot-1, would have come to OSU even if the Cowboys had been more serious about him.
"He could throw the dog out of it," Gundy said. "But we just felt like we needed to find a taller guy based on what we do."