Oklahoma State Defensive Coordinator Glenn Spencer
December, 28 2015
Q. We’re from New Orleans so I’m sorry if you have been asked these questions a million times. But ten straight wins and then end the regular season two losses, how anxious are your guys to get out and there and end on a high note?
GLENN SPENCER: No doubt. We weren’t pleased the way we finished the season. You know, the loss, especially that last one, it sticks with you for a while and probably with coaches more than players. So I was very eager to get back on the practice field. We had some tremendous practices before we left, really kind of could give back. A lot of guys got healthy. We had some good physical practices and we missed out on that toward the end of the year. But, yeah, especially for these seniors that want to send these guys out a winner, you know. You reflect on it after the last couple of games, and you sit back and say, do you look at the 10 wins or do you look at the two losses, right? These guys accomplished a lot. I think, as a Coach, you look at the two losses more than anything. But, yes, we’re very eager to play, just to play a good game.
Q. A lot of people say, “Oh, it’s going to be a shootout.”
GLENN SPENCER: Oh, you know, we try to stay in the now and stay in the moment and just play the best game we can. We have heard that a lot before and we go out and perform well. It’s just our side of the ball. We get that, you know. You do this as long as I have, and you realize it’s always slanted toward the offense and that’s okay. We know it’s a job we have to do. I have been in a lot of games where they said it was going to be a shootout and then it wasn’t. We played well. And then the next remark is, well, the other offense was just off a little, they didn’t have their best day. So we hear that kind of stuff all the time. Our kids know, I know, in that locker room after the game if we played well or not. And that’s just kind of what I shoot for with these guys.
Q. I’m sure Peterson is excited to go against [Laquon] Treadwell. How do you combat such a great receiver like that?
GLENN SPENCER: Well, you look at them game after game against pretty good defenses in the nation. And he makes his plays. And I think that’s the reason he is going to be a first round pick and make a lot of money coming out. So you know, it’s a whole unit that has to perform well.
Everybody is going to be focused on those one on ones. But a lot of times that throw can be affected by a good rush. There’s a lot of factors involved that maybe everybody doesn’t look at as why a young man, one of our DBs, plays well. We have some tremendous young men. They’re talented. And I know one thing, they’re competitors. So we will have to wait and see after the game. But they know what is at stake and they know the talent they’re playing against. And I think the way that we have practiced, you know, has been an indication of that.
Q. A big part of being successful in the ballgame is getting comfortable with where you’re at. And this team has had a lot of experience at that. How well are they adapting, do you think, in the first couple of days here?
GLENN SPENCER: Good. I think Coach Gundy does a tremendous job of balancing out. You know, there’s a time to work and there’s a time to enjoy what you have earned. So, you know, a good part of the mornings and the early afternoons, it’s all business and, you know, they know there’s a game to be won. They know that’s the reason we’re here is it to win a game.
But you know I have been on staffs before where a young man was you know, they’re beat up, you know, they don’t want to go to a bowl game anymore because all the coaches do is grind them all the time. And to be honest with you, I don’t think they play as effectively. So I believe there’s a balance there, and I believe Coach Gundy has struck that balance well and we’re kind in a groove now.
We definitely haven’t won every bowl game we have been in over the last eight, 10 years. But I think we played well. And we have won a good share of those games. So I think Coach has done a good job. And the players know, in the morning when they get up, it’s time to go to work, let’s meet, watch the tape, let’s get better, let’s practice, and even let’s enjoy each other.
Q. I know you said you don’t want to talk about the one on one battles, but everyone is looking forward to Emmanuel over Tunsil. Can you talk a little bit about that and how you think that is going to shape out? And Tunsil is obviously one of the top prospects in the country.
GLENN SPENCER: Their team is loaded with them. It’s the reason they’re here. I think when you play in one of these games, what do you expect, you know, that the opponent is going to be pretty talented. I know the media is going to pick up on those two and they will have their individual battles. You know, Emmanuel is used to playing against some great offensive linemen. Emmanuel is a competitor and hopefully, just in our culture, hopefully realizes it’s just a day, a play by play game. And he is going to do all he can. Not so much to have a good game against him, you know. So everybody says here is Emmanuel Ogbah, but he wants to do and play well for each other, for us, you know, and I think that’s what makes Emmanuel special. But yeah, the guy is talented. I’m sure he is going to be effective a lot during game, just like the receiver, just like the quarterback. And at the end of the day, we hope we’re in the fourth quarter battle and making it in the game and our kids get a chance to win.
Q. I work up in Tupelo and I cover Ole Miss. I talked to Benson about Oklahoma’s offense, Chad Kelly specifically. What are your thoughts on the offense and the way Kelly has played this year, just the tapes that you have seen coming into it?
GLENN SPENCER: You know, we played against some good quarterbacks early. And just their whole offense I told people this early in the week and him. They kind of fit into the Big 12. Their tempo, their spread, they have a mobile quarterback, you know. So it’s a lot of similarities between what we see. And it just so happens they do it really well. And they have got talent, I think, in all of the right spots to keep you off balance. He was a tremendous pickup for them. Sometimes you get those junior college kids that are kind of hit and miss and you’re not sure. You see the level of competition they’re up against and, you know, you’re not so sure. But, wow, what a big hit for them. He is dynamic. And probably the biggest compliment I can pay him is probably he reminds me of Baker Mayfield, very similar. Not just the jersey number, but just the way he can create, you know, and they’re going to run them at times. And he’s not looking to go down, he is not looking to go out of bounds.
Q. He is super competitive and leadership also elevates his play, don’t you believe? And I know it’s tougher to see on film.
GLENN SPENCER: I don’t know how he has been in the locker room, but I do know how effective they are on offense. He will get up after them, after he lowers his shoulder on the DB and those linemen around him, so, yeah, you can pick up on.
Q. You can see the on the field respect for it, I guess. Yeah?
GLENN SPENCER: Yeah. And they move the change and they score points, you know. They play against, you know, what is considered some of the best defenses in the nation. They have done it against everybody. So I have got a lot of respect for him. It’s going to be tough.
Q. Where is your defense coming into this? I mean, have you prepared pretty well? Do you feel like the last two games are away and now we can start fresh, that kind of mindset?
GLENN SPENCER: Yeah. I think that was good, after the last game, to get a break, let them go through finals and then regroup and start the bowl practices. It was all right. This is our chance to finish on a better note than what we did. We got some people healthy.
Q. Were you banged up those last two?
GLENN SPENCER: You know, a lot of them I won’t talk about, but it wasn’t good. I mean, but that’s not an excuse. Everybody is banged up this time of year.
Q. Sometimes if you lose your top guy, there’s some that may be injured but they may not lose their top guy.
GLENN SPENCER: That’s right. So, again, you are what you are, and nobody really cares. But I know for a fact that we have been able to practice for the bowl game. And the last two teams we played were pretty good offenses, too, so it’s a little bit of both. And where that line is of blame is really the line just points to me as to why we didn’t perform well. But you know, I have to be realistic to know how we were physically and you know then the opponent also goes into play.
Q. Where do you see this game being won or lost? I know the turnovers are always a big deal, field position is probably a big deal but does it come down to a stop or two because both offenses are so dynamic?
GLENN SPENCER: I’m not sure. You know, I’m not a good predictor of that. I guess the only thing I am sure of, and I think any defensive coordinator in the nation will tell you is, if you don’t limit the running game, you’re in trouble. Especially with teams that have the talent to beat you.
Q. In this case it’s Kelly, it’s everybody anybody that can carry the ball?
GLENN SPENCER: Yeah. And we’re used to that. We’re used to defending that extra player a lot. We have gotten it a lot in our league over the years. It’s another dynamic. And, you know, I mean I can tell I probably shouldn’t say that but it’s a different dynamic. Let me say that. And when I watch them play people, you could see that. And if somebody is not used to stopping that extra guy and knowing that, you know, a base scheme doesn’t stop that extra guy, the guys are in trouble. That doesn’t mean we can stop it either, but at least I know where the issues are at.
Q. Any other thoughts on what you have seen from your team, you know, when you were in Stillwater before you came here, that you liked?
GLENN SPENCER: Well, I think the kids are pretty resilient. They accomplished a lot. It really wasn’t supposed to be our year. No. I mean, you know where we were picked preseason.
Q. To be honest, I can’t remember.
GLENN SPENCER: We weren’t anywhere close.
Q. Obviously TCU, having played them last year, and then I knew the talk at the Chick fil A Bowl was, whoever won that one would be a top five or top six pick in the nation and, of course, that’s what happened. TCU was right there.
GLENN SPENCER: You’ve got momentum. That’s another reason these games are important, because, let’s face it, you know, preseason polls do mean something. You can talk all you want about they don’t mean anything. When those committee members are influenced by those, heck, yeah, it means something. So that’s another reason why this is a huge game. And this just isn’t a come down here and have a good time on Bourbon Street game. And our kids realize that, and I’m sure their kids realize it also.
Q. So in a lot of ways, if this wasn’t your year, you’re very pleased as a whole?
GLENN SPENCER: Our kids are so resilient in how we found ways to win games. There were times in the year that we were playing lights out on defense, and our offense was trying to find something. And then there are times when we were struggling, you know, when we had a lot of injuries and were banged up and missing guys and they had to outscore people a couple of times. I think it’s a great testimony to team wins that we had and pulled some out and, you know, ran out of gas there at the end and played against some tremendous offenses in the end, too.
Q. I think it’s really interesting that Vincent is a New Orleans guy?
GLENN SPENCER: A tremendous story.
Q. He’s never even seen a game in the Superdome.
GLENN SPENCER: How about that? I didn’t know that.
Q. He has been to “Toys for Tots” events in the stadium.
GLENN SPENCER: That’s good story.
Q. For him personally, it’s a really significant ballgame this week.
GLENN SPENCER: You know, I recruit San Antonio, so I got hold of his story when he was a sophomore there in Madison down there in San Antonio. A great chapter in the book, right, for somebody’s book, from him and his family being on the roof, you know, in this town, to now where he is. And it’s staying in a lavish hotel, getting tremendous meals, getting a per diem in his pocket, being able to go and walk down Bourbon Street. I guess it’s a testimony to this, first of all, great country, right, that can provide somebody with that opportunity. And because he was hungry to do something special and his parents and his dad were great to him when he was young and left this town but just provide for their kids.
I’m happy for his parents. Vincent might not realize it until he is probably 50 or 60 years old, you know, how special this thing is. But I know his mom and dad are probably sitting back right now going, can you believe this? They’re going to be in town for this game, going to that stadium, and they’re probably looking around and in their mind they see the destruction and pain and sorrow. And I’m happy for them, that whatever motivated them to do whatever they did for their child and their family has come out successful. And it’s a great story. A tremendous story.
Q. So was this typical bowl prep for your guys or about average?
GLENN SPENCER: Let me compare it to some others. No. I was telling somebody, I think Coach Gundy’s kind of balanced, you know. This is my eighth one with him, not that we won every one of them. We have won our fair share. But I think we have played pretty good in all them. I don’t know if you can look at any of them and say, gosh, they just laid an egg.
So maybe we worked out the kinks the first couple of years. I missed the first two. But then ever since then, I have been with them. And I think he struck a good balance. I have been other places, other bowls, where maybe you wore them down too much, and then some others maybe you didn’t tighten it down too much. So I think he has found a balance.
Q. How many really hard core physical practices out of this would you have had?
GLENN SPENCER: We were in a pattern, and this is something that we couldn’t do the last three or four weeks of this season. It’s not an excuse. But we got back to some full speed contact things where a lot of the people that are a factor in the game are participating in, and the tempo picked up.
So we probably had, you know, we were in a pattern like every other day we were hitting it pretty heavy there. And then we would have a day off. And then a lighter one and heavy one and day off, light. And we were kind of in that pattern. And we got down here and we have had a couple of physical ones. So we will probably, not probably, we will back off a little bit today on. The intensity is still there.
But you monitor how many full speed collisions you’re going to have, and there’s a risk/reward there. And a couple of guys have gotten nicked. But you ask yourself, probably the reward will be and we will just find out. It doesn’t guarantee you’re going to win a game. But on my side of the ball, I feel better about it going into the game. That doesn’t guarantee success, but that part of it, I can say, well, I think we practiced the way we’re supposed to practice.
Q. So how much energy do you anticipate your guys getting when they run out there in that stadium on Friday night, one of the Meccas of football, look and around see that crowd and that stage. How energizing is that?
GLENN SPENCER: They will be amped. But Ole Miss will be amped, too.
Q. You have to assume they will.
GLENN SPENCER: So the energy, I think, that creates, everybody is going to share in that. Is that important? Yes, that’s important. That’s why, you know, the home team is at an advantage, and they will probably have it more than us. What’s it going to be?
Q. Geographically you would think so.
GLENN SPENCER: Three quarters?
Q. More like 60/40?
GLENN SPENCER: I was saying 70/30 but I have always been you know, the Cotton Bowl was tremendous. But anyway, I think both places will feed off of that. And after that, it goes back to the practices that we just talked about.
Q. You mentioned that Chad Kelly in some way, in terms of his running and his ability is kind of like Baker Mayfield. Do you guys have a scout team quarterback that you feel like can emulate that a little bit? I know you have a few athletes on this team who can run it, and J.W. Walsh obviously has to take some rap for the first team, based on your QB situation.
GLENN SPENCER: Yeah, those were good practices, those good on good periods. That was real good. I recall what you said, J.W. You know, we have a couple of guys that do the best they can with it. But it’s not the best the same. I thought we practiced pretty good simulating and that didn’t turn out well.
Q. What have you seen that makes Kelly effective when he runs?
GLENN SPENCER: Just his demeanor, his intention. His intention is I’m going to keep running. You’re going to have to keep me down. He’s not looking for a sideline, he’s not looking for a slide. You know, it’s something that we face in our conference. Where are you from?
GLENN SPENCER: So in our conference, we face those mobile quarterbacks quite a bit and those guys that even back to Collin Klein and Robert Griffin, they’re not looking to get down. It’s another aspect of the game that a lot of people in the country don’t face week in and week out. The issues that that extra gap creates, you’re not going to have the numbers going all the time. You can’t play in your base defense that you love all the time. That extra guy creates a lot of issues.
Q. You guys started the season with this “we’re taking it back” mantra. I know you’re never satisfied with the turnovers, you always want more, but now that you have it and a body of work to look at, how impressed are you then with your guys with the increase?
GLENN SPENCER: You know, it’s better than last year. A lot better, right? And probably helped us win a lot of games, created a lot more turnovers and a lot more opportunities for offense. So, yeah, I’m pleased with that as compared to last year. You always want more. I realize for us to win this game, we’re going to need to have some of those. Just let’s face it. We have to create and steal some possessions. It’s all about possessions, and we have to get some possessions for our guys and hopefully create a short field here and there. And I think if we don’t, you know, it’s going to be a struggle.
Q. Chad Kelly has thrown an interception and 105 passes. Have you seen something that makes you think you might have an opportunity there with him?
GLENN SPENCER: Not really. Just basically, you do your job, you realize that, you know, it goes back to he doesn’t have to throw something, you know, if he doesn’t want to. He trusts his ability to create a lot of guys that can’t create that feel like they have to sometimes, they can’t take another loss, they can’t say another sack. And he is like, I’m not going to take another sack. I’m going to escape. And if I don’t see anybody at the second level, I’m going to run it for eight or 10, as opposed to throwing it in traffic for eight or 10. So what does it really matter? He keeps the chains moving.
Q. Y’all faced two of the three (inaudible) and now you pick a third one. How does he compare to those guys?
GLENN SPENCER: He’s just as good or better. I mean, everybody has their different strengths, every one of them if you analyze it. But they will all be first-rounders, right? So we have had the privilege over the years at Oklahoma State to face a lot of offensive first-rounders and great productive players that are still playing in the league now. So not that he is not dangerous or not that he is not going to make his plays. He has done it against some of the supposed best defense in the nation, right? So it’s going to happen. You know, you hope we do a lot of other things to where it’s not easy for them, you know. And in the end, you hope you’re battling in the fourth quarter with a chance to win it.
Q. What development do you have with Emmanuel and his time there?
GLENN SPENCER: I think just the normal progression. A young man came in, was redshirted, our strength staff got ahold of him and he started eating and lifting, and he was hungry to be better. And every year, you saw a gradual increase.
You know, I think he did what his career path is what we have been successful with over the years. You know, we’re not going to be on everybody’s top recruiting shelf every year, but by the time they’re fourth or fifth year players, hopefully they’re as good as any. So whatever way you do it, that’s the way we can do it at Oklahoma State. And he is the poster child of work and development. And every year you put on 20 pounds and you get stronger and bigger and faster, and all of a sudden here he is in his fourth year and he is as good as anybody in the nation when he wasn’t on anybody’s list. I shouldn’t say that. On two lists coming out of Houston as a freshman.
Q. How raw was he coming out of high school? Or was he much different than another defensive that you might have gotten?
GLENN SPENCER: Well, at the time, you love to say we had a crystal ball and were geniuses, right? We make mistakes like everybody does. You can’t get inside a young man’s heart at that age. But we just try to do a good job. Now there’s a reason he wasn’t four or five star; right? He wasn’t a dominant player then. But you just kind of look and at some things he had. Tell you what is striking with him is his family and the culture that he came out of and how his education is important and how to say “yes, sir” and “no, sir” is important to him and to treat people with respect and to not turn down a challenge. A very competitive human being.
In the classroom, very respectful and humble. And he has been hungry to be great. And I think he relishes in the success of what we have done more than, you know, him being a high pick next year.
Q. How has he matched up against athletic tackles like Laremy Tunsil?
GLENN SPENCER: Tunsil is different than all of them. You can look at his productivity and his stats and he has done well. Statistically, he has gotten pressure consistently on the quarterback no matter who we played. There are some tremendous stats people have out against the first three nonconference opponents, and then all of a sudden they diminish. And with him, he has been consistent over the years.
Q. You have been at Oklahoma State six or seven years now?
GLENN SPENCER: Eight.
Q. Eight years. Okay. How does that affect or how does that feel like y’all have established? Mike is now 11 seasons. Do you feel like you can go into just about any door you want to in recruiting and just the image of the school? I know I’m all over the place here, but
GLENN SPENCER: No. No, I don’t think we can. I think we stay in our wheelhouse, you know. There are some programs that they will go all over the nation and find the best player and find they will go after some stars, right? And we can’t do that.
Q. But you came here and …
GLENN SPENCER: A couple. Yeah. And that’s a couple of connections. But we’re not going to reach out far enough. I’m from Georgia. We had a couple of Georgia kids. We had a couple of connections. If there’s a strong hook, we might do it. But we’re not going to go out there and cover the nation going to all of the top players. That’s not going to be very beneficial to us in the long run.
Q. Isn’t it consistent at a school that, I don’t want to say knows its limitations, but that’s what you were saying. That has to be pretty rewarding that you have been able to establish that shelf and the brand of Oklahoma State, the brand of Oklahoma State?
GLENN SPENCER: I think if you spend some time in Stillwater, you get a feel for it and our fan base. And between Oklahoma and Texas, there’s plenty of kids. And plenty of kids like Emmanuel Ogbah. If Emanuel Ogbah had all of the stars and there’s lot of factors that we were going up against in recruiting, we wouldn’t have gotten him. And that’s with a lot of kids. So we got you’re right, it is satisfying to know that. And Coach Gundy is smart enough to know, if we get out of that wheelhouse too much, we’re not going to be successful.
Q. Good support from the administration and everything?
GLENN SPENCER: Right.
Q. Coach Henderson, what has been his role with the team?
GLENN SPENCER: My guy now. You know I coached him in college at Georgia Tech. So that’s my guy. I mean, I was trying to get him on our staff as fast as possible.
Q. What has he kind of brought to the table?
GLENN SPENCER: Well, you know, there’s limitations on what he can do. He was a graduate assistant where he could be on the field and now he is in a quality control role. But we do everything we can not to ever lose him. He is a tremendous up and comer.
If you spend five minutes with him, you’re attracted to him. And you spend any time with him, just one of those guys, you can look inside your heart, and there’s guys that, he has a tremendous story, coming out of Car, you know, into Georgia Tech, and then I think, you know, when his kids get on campus and he can spend time with them or he has contacts with high school coaches down here that love the kind of kid he is, you know, there’s again, we’re coming in here and we’re not going to do a lot, but people like him have a connection or some other coaches have a connection down here, it’s very beneficial. He is going to be a tremendous coach on the field.