Following Sunday’s practice at Alamo Heights High School, Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Bill Young and six of the Cowboys’ defensive standouts had a press conference to discuss their upcoming Alamo Bowl showdown against Arizona.
Among the most popular topics was OSU attempting to reach the 11-wins mark for the first time in school history.
“We talk about it all the time, getting 11 (wins),” said senior cornerback Andrew McGee. “We want to be the best team ever. We want to get 11 and finish strong.”
If the Cowboys can knock off Arizona, they would finish the 2010 season with an 11-2 mark, a far cry from the showing many around the country predicted for coach Mike Gundy’s squad in the preseason.
“We practiced hard. Nobody had confidence in us outside of the program, but our coaches had tremendous confidence in us and we had tremendous confidence in ourselves,” said senior defensive tackle Chris Donaldson. “We went out in the summer and worked hard. Our goal was not to work harder than the person beside you but to work harder than the other people in the country. We worked hard, and it paid off for us.”
OSU and Arizona will take the field for the Valero Alamo Bowl Wednesday, with kickoff scheduled for 8:22 p.m.
Q&A with Justin Gilbert
Freshman Justin Gilbert has had a significant impact on the Cowboys’ success in 2010. The 6-foot, 194 pounder from Huntsville, Texas, has been productive at cornerback and on special teams. With 23 kickoff returns for 644 yards, which includes returns for 93 and 89 yards for touchdowns, he averages 28 yards per kickoff return, which ranks second in the Big 12 and 18th nationally. His 644 returns yards also ranks as the fifth-most single-season kickoff return yards in OSU history. Defensively, Gilbert has recorded 15 tackles. The following is a quick Q&A with Gilbert.
How has the bowl experience been so far?
“It’s been really good. We’re having a good time and enjoying ourselves right now until the game. Everyone expects to win so we’re also preparing to win the game.”
Did you expect to have such a big impact as a true freshman?
“Yes, that’s something I really envisioned doing while I was still in high school. One of the big reasons I chose to come here was because I could play early and make a big impact on defense and special teams.”
What was it like making the transition from high school to college football?
“You have to put a lot more time into it, and it’s a lot faster. You have to study a lot of film and study your opponents so you know what to expect in a game. It’s different than in high school where you’re a lot better than the kids you’re playing against as far as talent level. In college it’s a lot faster, and everybody’s talent level is about the same.”
You had some big kickoff returns this season. How much fun is it returning kicks?
“The first one I took for a touchdown was one of the best feelings in my life. I didn’t know how to celebrate I was so excited. I was smiling when I got to the 20 on in. I just had a big smile on my face.”
What was more memorable – your first kickoff return for a touchdown against Baylor or the one against Oklahoma?
“The one against OU because that meant a lot more than the one in the Baylor game when we were up by a lot. Being able to bring us back and give us a chance in the (OU) game was a great feeling and meant a lot more.”