Game week is long and hard, tense with anticipation of the weekend's sweet release, and never more so than during conference play. That's why we're here, scraping and clawing our way past that midweek ridge so you can start the smooth coast toward kickoff with a better understanding of what awaits you at the bottom. Joining us this week in the content mines is Pokelahoma, friend of the Carnival and resident of cousin site Cowboys Ride For Free.
Ulysses S. Cocksman: Thanks for agreeing to this terrible idea that you'll almost surely come to regret, it's much appreciated. Let's get started – what are you wearing? Take your time, don't rush it.
Pokelahoma: Am I doing an interview with BC or losing my virginity? This is starting off in a similar fashion. Like all generic Dallas office employees, I'm wearing a generic blue button up, moderately priced dark pants and shoes from Johnson & Murphy. Also a metal cilice.
Yeah, that's the stuff. So after a 2014 season that saw the Cowboys essentially replace the entire team wholesale and finish with their first losing conference record since 2006, what's the mood heading into Big 12 play this year on a scale of rending garments to wildly delusional?
Actually, thanks to the excellent efforts of @okc_dave I can tell you somewhat. 1500 people took the survey this year and the average prediction is 8.9 wins. After non conference I'd be willing to bet that's gone down some. Natural Poke optimism and reality collide a lot. Travis Ford's stealing a living off the space between the two. We didn't look that great against CMU or Central Arkansas… UTSA was better, but forcing seven turnovers alters that margin.
And you did finish by laying 69 on them, so.
They sure were the si—next question.
What are your personal hopes for the team on Saturday, and how are you emotionally preparing yourself for Jerrod Heard to crush them?
I've learned from my years as an Oklahoma State fan that it's best to prepare for each of our contests with the same ritual. Kinda helps get the spirit moving and the mind engaged for the results to come. Crippling, work-affecting alcoholism and then maybe a pizza. I'll also make dick jokes on twitter.
I deeply admire the purity and rigor of your game preparation.
Truthfully, three things. This is the best front seven Mike Gundy has ever had IMO… we have defensive tackles! Not like converted bulked up ends who grew into DT's by their senior year, but like 320 pound 17 year old Darrion Daniels. I'm excited to see what they do.
I'm eager to see what the offensive line does, how well do we run the ball type stuff… I've been hard on them since they were terrible last year and still seem a bit light in the middle. Week to week improvement would be good. I'm not sold on the idea we can get 2 yards when we absolutely need to move people out of the way.
I also want to see Mason Rudolph perform well against a secondary that has struggled so far. And stay upright.
Texas didn't get a chance to see Mason Rudolph last year, which is probably a good thing. Tell us something about him so we're not left projecting our fears and misgivings about our defensive inadequacies on him without context.
The biggest thing that has impressed me is he seems to make smart decisions. Last year's QB never bothered to check down and couldn't find the right read on a blitz. Mason regularly does both. For the year he's 62 of 90 for about 1000 yards, 5 TDs and one pick.
The arm isn't Brandon Weeden, but it's strong enough. He doesn't run nearly as well as JW Walsh, who you'll also see this week, but he'll take yards if you leave him be. I'd say most Oklahoma State fans are confident we also have our QB.
Of course Brandon Weeden drew from the deep well of Old Man Strength, so we'll forgive Mason for that. Mike Gundy is now in his 11th season at age 48, which really speaks to the incredible cultural stamina of press conference meltdowns. Outside of the always formidable hair gel lobby, how strong is his support base? Does team owner T. Boone Pickens have his back? Is there any divide between the reasonable fan and the mouth-breathing talk radio reactionary set?
Mike Gundy's been involved in one way or another in more than a quarter of all football games played at Oklahoma State. He'll go nowhere unless he wants to, or we get caught with pictures, holding a newspaper doing what SI accused us of doing. I admit it was rocky the last few years as apparently Boone got mad at him and they didn't talk for three years. However, they patched it up last year after some public press conference pot shots at each other. Boone's got his back now for sure and as long as Jimmy Sexton doesn't do the next contract, things will be fine in the future.
As far as support from the rest of us, I think that fan survey had his approval rating at 98%. The truth is there isn't much of a reactionary set anymore. There's a "business isn't personal, and if some school wants to offer you 7 million a year we'll help you pack, you earned it, we can't/won't pay that, good luck to you, thanks for making this job not suck and we'll get somebody pretty good to replace you" set, but there isn't really a fire Gundy set.
It's good to hear that there's a fan base somewhere in the world that is both invested and not possessed of complete lunacy. I'd like to pause here to note that Coach Gundy voluntarily named his children Gavin, Gunnar and Gage, which is neither a question nor a judgment, given that my own kids' names sound like they should be homeschooled somewhere in Utah. But still.
Ha yeah, I've only had minor interaction with the Gundy family. They'd come into the pizza hole in the wall I worked at. Kids are beyond polite to the point of helping me clear the table when they were finished. Real yes sir, no sir types. good kids, anywho about us…
Truly inspiring to hear that they're overcoming that adversity. So obviously we're conference foes, but realistically frienemies at worst. With a mutual disdain for OU as a tie that binds closer than some families, I'd like to insure that our guests this week are made to feel welcome. What's the best thing to have on hand at the tailgate to make a Poke feel at home?
No I consider UT frienemies at worst. Truthfully, there's a picture of 10th grade me standing next to Mack Brown at one of his summer football camps I went to. No, not the one for the good kids, the one for kids from Plano whose parents had to bribe them to study anything.
In order to ensure a Cowboy feels welcome at your tailgate, Coors Light and meat of an easily pronounceable culinary origin is always a safe bet. Truthfully, it may depend on how he or she is dressed. I'm a fan of #DrinkLocal and #Indiscriminatelongwindedhashtaghumor so something from Adelberts or 512 maybe?
OK, see I was thinking meth, so I'm really glad I asked first.
All things being equal, I'd really like the Longhorns to win on Saturday – tell us where the defense's weaknesses lie, such that we might exploit them.
In my not nearly expert opinion? As high as I am on the front seven, I'm that nervous about the secondary. If we can't get pressure you'll complete an ego inflating number of passes. They can sometimes cover just long enough for Ogbah to get back there. If he doesn't? We run into issues.
Speaking of Ogbah. Interesting story out today about how he went to a few games in Austin and was disappointed Texas never offered. Evaluation, development and effort can go a long way.
Tell Ogbah it's nothing personal, that's just an extended phase we were going through. Last thing. If Mike Perrin shows up with a giant novelty check at midfield before the game, can we call truce on the Wickline thing? We've all had to keep pretending he's the play caller for over a year now, and frankly it's fucking exhausting.
I imagine, however no… the comedic value of this thing is too great to me personally. Just kills me Patterson wouldn't make this go away. Wickline's stubborn, he's not going to surrender unless he's told. I respect the guy a great deal personally but I need Charlie Strong Testimony Day to be a real thing that happens. I'll camp outside the Payne County courthouse for a seat for this trial.
I respect that kind of passion for litigation and theater. Thanks for being our first, it was fantastic. Feel free to hang out in the comments for even more thoughtful and pointed questions from our notoriously dignified readership.