January 1, 2010

Brewer Speaks II: OC touches on several topics

IRVING, Texas - Ready for round two?

In part one of the interview of Gunter Brewer, we focused solely on recruiting and his takes on the subject.

This time around, a number of issues are tackled surrounding the Oklahoma State football program, including his own career.

One of the major storylines of Cowboy football this season has been injuries. Of course, every program has to deal with, and overcome, injuries. That was definitely a challenge for the Pokes, as key players on both sides of the ball fell victim to the banged-up bug.

With the Cotton Bowl finally here tomorrow, Brewer says his unit is looking very good going into the action.

"We've gone in and had a gun with a few less bullets in it and we've been able to overcome that throughout the year," he said. "Whether it has been the starting quarterback, starting running back, the starting receiver - other guys have stepped into those shoes.

"Our quarterback is healthy and he wasn't healthy as much all year. Now he's had a chance to recover mentally and physically and we feel like when you have seen him at his best, he's pretty exciting. He makes our offense go, just like most quarterbacks make any offense go. Our offensive line is healthy again and that's where it all starts, in the trenches, so that's a big part of it."

Worries about the health of Zac Robinson aren't a new thing once bowl week rolls around. His ability to keep playing as the 2009 Holiday Bowl unfolded was a concern. Leading up to the Cotton Bowl, questions have abounded about the senior signal-caller's status and if he will truly be 100 percent against Ole Miss. While the team keeps detailed injury information close to the vest, the fifth-year Cowboy assistant defended his senior QB.

"Everybody doesn't know and we're not ever going to say the whole story - he wasn't healthy and it was evident he wasn't healthy, but he wasn't coming out," Brewer said. "That's the kind of warrior he is. Sometimes that doesn't work in your favor. But what he's been able to do is lead this football team when he hasn't been healthy and it gets the rest of the guys understanding that it doesn't matter if you're an offensive tackle or the running back or the wideout - when you're the starting quarterback, you're the face of the program.

"When you can play hurt and do those things and they know that, you gain what we call street credits. That's the locker room stuff you can do nothing about as a coach - you've got to earn that. And he's earned that through his ability to lead and make plays even when he's hurt. And that's really a time for everybody else to step up. When he's not at his best because of injury and stuff, somebody else has to pull the slack, to make a better catch, to make a better run, to make a better block, because he's not at 100 percent. But right now he is, so we're looking forward to seeing what he can do. And he hasn't been that way in awhile. He's been playing a little bit nicked up, but everybody does. It's a contact sport."

At another key position, tailback, the Cowboys have managed to run on while Kendall Hunter has been out of commission. Keith Toston did a fantastic job picking up the slack in Hunter's absence. But with the past off to rest, will we see Hunter get back to the level he was once at?

"Kendall Hunter is back to being Kendall Hunter," Brewer said. "Obviously the defense we play will have a lot to do with how he does. But Kendall Hunter made All-America status being a great player and you saw that last year. Was he healthy all year? Yeah, for two games, until he got hurt and suffered a significant injury that kept him out for six or eight games. When he came back, he slowly got himself back into shape and now he looks like the Kendall Hunter of old. Will he break out for a 200-yard game like Keith has been able to do once or twice? We sure hope so, because we're going to need every yard we can get."

Speaking of Hunter, missing most of this season because of injury has likely limited any previous thoughts he had about leaving early for the NFL Draft. Even so, with a big game tomorrow, could Spud be thinking ahead to what's on the other side of the fence?

"That'd be a question for Kendall," he said. "But if Kendall had an outstanding game that would be something he would sit down with his family and consider that. One thing about Kendall is he loves Oklahoma State and loves college football. That's one thing that Dez (Bryant) after the NCAA thing had a long talk with me. He said, coach - he came back for the banquet - I would trade anything in the world to be able to come back and play college football. Because of the fact you don't get a chance to sit down with the guy next to you that you might not ever see again for the rest of your life and form that bond with has maybe nothing to do with anything you've ever had to do with. And the friendships that have been built by those kids are special and they are a true team unit, and those kids love that.

"I think he loves his teammates, I think he loves Oklahoma State and he loves the game. So I would see him really wanting to stay and have something to prove. But yeah, if he comes out and sets a world record and can get drafted in the first round, then more power to him."

When you're a coordinator at a program seeing continued success, other programs tend to call you up asking if you'd like to be the head coach at their place. That process seems to be starting for Brewer. Since the season ended, his name was mentioned as a possibility for the Memphis job. While that obviously didn't happen, the day will come when Brewer leaves to head off to another school to try his hand at running a program - it's in his blood after all, with father Billy serving as head coach of Ole Miss from 1983-93.

"Absolutely, I would love to have an opportunity at some point when that arises to follow in my dad's footsteps and be able to run a program and have that opportunity to make those decisions, although it would be real hard," he said. "It's been a pleasure learning under coach Gundy because he has taken a program much like dad took over his school he played at and loved and to watch it grow.

"First of all, we work at a great place and it is an honor whenever someone else does come and wants to acquire your services. I think that's where your goal is and your communication with your administration and head coach come into being, understanding what your goals are while you are there and how to handle that in the process you go through. I think that's the key when those things happen, that the communication factor is there. 'Hey, Joe Blow called me from this university and is interested in interviewing me for a head coaching job.' This is the process that has been laid out after the season, after the bowl, whatever their time frame is when you start talking about these things. Each university has its own type of compliance that you want to go through with those things."

So is he seriously considering that offer from Joe Blow?

"No, Joe Blow is going to have to wait until after the Cotton Bowl. We'll discuss that later," he joked.

One thing about life is how it seemingly always runs in cycles. What's old is new again, right? Brewer agrees with that mindset and he believes college football is in the process of going retro. While the spread has been the big flavor for offenses in recent years, Brewer believes the days of option football are about to return in a big way.

"No doubt. I think everything has a circle - a circle of life. It all comes back around. You'll see power football, you'll see option, you'll see spread. The innovation is unbelievable. I think Oregon is a great example of innovation in option football. What we call a dual-threat guy, just like we've been able to do, you've got a lot of motion, a lot of thrills and spills and window dressing, but when you get right down to it, it's still a dive, it's still a pitch, it's still a keep. It's just a new way of doing it - it's just dressing it up and it's just option football."

In fact, he says the option already has returned, it just under a different label.

"Florida has been winning with the wishbone out of the shotgun," he said. "You can call it what you want, but its triple option. So anytime you can make a defense defend the dive, the quarterback and the pitch, you just don't see that as much anymore. And as it comes back and it's come full circle, the triple option is tough on a defense because one person gets out of place and you may have six points. It's not, 'OK we're just going to hand off the ball and someone will rally to it.' It's a case where it's assignment football and we've run it all year and it's not like we're going to stick it in because of this game because that wouldn't be what we do, but we do do it. So we're going to use the option. How much we use it depends on how well they defend it."

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