By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
How fast is fast? Oklahoma State University football fans, you’re about to find out.
So much has been made this spring about how new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich’s offense runs at a pace that’s fast enough to blow the decals off their opponents’ helmets. Now, it’s time for the Cowboys to show it, as they end the spring season with the football finale.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s a lot faster than when coach (Dana) Holgorsen was here,” Oklahoma State receiver Tracy Moore said.
This won’t be the first time Oklahoma State’s offense will be tested this spring. The Cowboys have already been through a couple of scrimmages this spring. Still, nothing compares to performing in front of the 60,000 fans that will likely pack Boone Pickens Stadium at 1:30 p.m. Saturday for the finale.
“We have to go out and play,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “There are officials. We have noise and the coaches stay off to the side on a normal day, so they get quality work, but I think with the fans there and the lights on, it will make a difference in the approach of our athletes and how they play the game.”
“I’m looking forward to our guys getting out there, having fun, playing with excitement and feeling the joy of the gameday experience,” Yurcich said. “Even though it’s not really gameday, we’re going to try to simulate it as much as possible.”
That means running the ball, quick screens and short passes — something Cowboy fans will be see a lot of in the coming season.
“It’s just unbelievable how fast it goes,” Oklahoma State offensive lineman Parker Graham said. “A lot of us feel like we were conditioned to play in the last offense we had, and then this one is like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s even faster than the last one,’ if that’s even possible.”
For Yurcich — who will be calling plays from the coaches’ box as opposed to on the sideline — Saturday won’t necessarily be about speed. Instead, it will be more about accuracy and evaluating the plays already in place.
“We’ve simulated game time several times throughout this spring, so I think we have a firm grasp of how fast we’re going and the tempo,” Yurcich said. “This Saturday won’t be the only opportunity to evaluate that. We’ve been evaluating ourselves along the whole process this spring.
“There’s not too much that you can take away from this game that we don’t already know. I think the first 14 practices really showed us a lot of things. This game is more about getting out there and trying to execute some of the base concepts that we have.”
Gundy said he would like to play a 60-minute game for the finale, hoping to get about a hundred plays in. But because of the lack of depth on the offensive line, he will likely shorten the finale to about 50 or 60 plays.
“We’d like to play a 60-minute game, somewhere in the neighborhood of 80-90 plays, but we’re going to run the clock a little bit more than in a normal game because we don’t have the numbers to compete on that many plays,” Gundy said. “... It’s a lot of fun and we look forward to it. Our goal is to get 50-60 plays out of the game.”
The good news about the quickened game? With Yurcich’s fast-paced offense the scrimmage will likely be over before the tailgating food gets cold — something Yurcich said he’s most excited about.
“They say the tailgating food around here is pretty good,” Yurcich said. “I wouldn’t mind getting some barbecue.”
Will a leftover burger or hot dog be in Yurcich’s future? A lot of that may depend on how his offense performs.
But one thing is certain. Yurcich made it very clear that whether or not the Cowboys do live up to their pre-spring hype, this game was a reward for both players and fans.
“We want to have fun with it,” Yurcich said. “We want to make sure that first of all, our players are having fun with it and they’re having a good time with it. They’ve worked hard this offseason and now this is a time to step out to the field and really enjoy as much as we can simulate gameday atmosphere.”
And what could be more fun than watching an offense race up and down the field at a blistering pace?