Gundy: FSU As Good As Any Team We've Played

James Castleman knows a good football team when he sees one on tape. Since arriving on campus in 2011, the Oklahoma State defensive tackle has played in games in which the Cowboys defeated No. 8 Texas A&M (2011), No. 4 Stanford (2011) and No. 3 Baylor (2013). Although he views OSU’s season opener against No. 1-ranked Florida State as a challenge it’s one he’s looking forward to in nine days.

The Cowboys will play the defending national champion Seminoles, who are on a 16-game winning streak and are winners of 21 of their last 22 games, on Aug. 30 in the AdvoCare Cowboys Classic at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Kickoff for the nationally televised game (ABC-TV) is 7 p.m.

Mike Gundy says he believes the Seminoles may be the best team any of his OSU teams have faced in his 10 years as head coach.

The Seminoles are led by quarterback Jameis Winston, the returning Heisman Trophy winner. But he’s not the only Florida State player who will play in the NFL one day. As a matter of fact, head coach Jimbo Fisher has 11 of the top 100 college players in the nation, according to ESPN.com’s ranking.

“They’re as good as any team that we’ve ever played in my opinion. I’m not trying to build them up into something they’re not but they’re pretty good,” Gundy said during a 22-minute news conference Thursday in which he previewed the season opener.

In addition to Winston (the best college player in the nation), ESPN.com’s rankings are proof that the returning Heisman winner is not a one-man show. The Seminoles have six of the top 33 college players, and five of them are on FSU’s explosive offense, including tight end Nick O’Leary (No. 28), offensive lineman Tre’ Jackson (tied for No. 31), wide receiver Rashad Greene (tied for 31st), and offensive tackle Cameron Erving (No. 33).

“He’s a really good player that is dangerous in that he can make a play at any time. He’s got a strong arm. He’s hard to bring down, he’s mobile. He’s got a great supporting cast,” Gundy said.

“When you have a quarterback that throw, and he’s mobile and can move around, and you have length and speed at the receiver position, they can do a lot of things on the perimeter. They’re flexible enough offensively that they can line up and run it on you or they can spread it out and throw it.

“I would think if you took a poll across the country of most coordinators and break it down, you’re trying to decide whether you want to attack them and play man (coverage) on the edge or stay back and play coverage and allow them to run the football. It’s a simple game that people make very complicated. When you’re skilled at a lot of different positions (like Florida State) then you’ve been dealt a pretty good hand.”

Oklahoma State has faced the nation’s No. 1-ranked team in the Associated Press poll 10 times, most recently in 2008 when the Cowboys suffered a 28-24 loss to Texas. The Cowboys are 0-10 all-time in games against the nation’s top-ranked team but that doesn’t mean they aren’t looking forward to facing the Seminoles.

“We’ve embraced (this game) from the spring and during the fall. We’re playing the best team with the best player in the country in a lot of people’s opinion. This will give us a good idea of where we’re at,” Gundy said.

“Our team has been told this is the game plan in all three phases, you go out and work your tail off and we expect you to play hard. What a great opportunity. There are guys that are going to be playing — probably eight of them, I counted them the other night right before I went to sleep — who last year they were playing high school ball and now they’re playing against Florida State. That’s pretty cool.”

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