Gundy: "I really wanted this game for the players ..." after devastating week

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Oklahoma State's C.J. Moore (35), Kolby Harvell-Peel (31), and Amen Ogbongbemiga (11) after the Oklahoma State vs. TCU football game on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, at Boone Pickens Stadium.

Mike Gundy has never seen a day go as badly as last Wednesday went.

Gundy, the head coach of the Oklahoma State football team, couldn't remember how many years he'd been coaching as he reflected back on a hectic week following OSU's 34-27 victory against TCU on Saturday, but he did recall that there was never a day quite like last Wednesday in his 29-year coaching career.

The biggest story of the week coming out of Stillwater was the status of All-American wide receiver Tylan Wallace, who went down with a non-contact knee injury while making a cut on a routine route in a drill during OSU's light-speed Wednesday practice.

Non-contact knee injury: some of the worst words in all of sports.

Gundy said he didn't see Wallace's injury when it happened, but he heard a scream and that was his "worst nightmare."

"I was up in the tower watching practice, so I got down real quick and held onto the rails coming down because I didn't know what was next," Gundy said. "Stayed on the ground for the rest of practice."

Rumors swirled for tens of hours as Wallace went for multiple MRI tests late in the week, but the bad news was revealed on Friday that Wallace had torn his ACL and will miss the remainder of the season.

Wallace, who is a superstar talent and finished as a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award last season, led the Cowboys with 53 catches for 903 yards with eight touchdowns prior to his devastating injury. He was second in the nation in receiving yards.

"The most difficult thing for a coach is when a player gets hurt," Gundy said. "Especially guys that give everything they have to the organization. Now, Tylan's a special talent, we all know this. But he's very humble, he's very unselfish, he's a tremendous player and he's a very, very hard worker. So when you lose guys like that for a while, it's difficult. It's hard for a coach to swallow."

But the injury bug wasn't done preying on the Cowboys.

Per Gundy, OSU lost starting center Johnny Wilson and starting safety Tre Sterling to injuries that were suffered all during about a five minute window of Wallace's injury in the same Wednesday practice.

"One of the most unusual days that I've had as a coach," Gundy said. "It was just a weird deal. We don't practice full speed much this time of the year, just half to three-quarter speed drills, I don't have an explanation for it. Just an unusual situation.

"I have not, in however many years I've been coaching, seen anything like that."

Gundy said he felt sick when he went home after Wednesday's practice, which is something that doesn't happen to him often anymore in his 14th year as the head coach of his alma mater. He even tried to hide the news from his family, as he didn't want to ruin their week too.

"It almost ruined my week when I left the office and when I went home," Gundy said. "When I'm here, I don't flinch and I stay the course, but when I go home, it just makes me sick and I can hardly function at all. It's hard to lose a guy like that, not only a player but as a person, with what he brings to the table.

"It was just kinda a weird deal to lose those three guys in one day. The players have to recover from it, because it's a shock to them, you know? That's their buddy and when that happens it's unfortunate."

Despite OSU's near-doomsday practice on Wednesday, the Cowboys made it to Saturday without any other freak injuries, but Gundy said it was a difficult couple of days of preparation for his team.

"I've done this a long time, but it was even a challenge for me to keep my head up and say, 'It's gonna be okay,'" Gundy said. "I really wanted this game for the players, going through what they went through earlier in the week. We talked a lot about our culture and staying the course."

In the wake of losing its superstar wideout, OSU threw the ball only 15 times on TCU, who is best known for its stellar run defense and leaving receivers in single coverage on the outside.

But it didn't matter.

OSU had a fire under them this week and the Cowboys seemed focused, well-disciplined and hungry against one of the more impressive defenses the Big 12 has to offer.

"I wanted (this game) so bad, because I wanted them to learn that life lesson, that it's okay when you get adversity to find a way to be successful," Gundy said. "I was really proud of them, as much for this game as any in a long, long time, just learning to stay the course and deal with some adversity."

sports.ed@ocolly.com