By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
The more things change, the more they stay the same. At least that’s been the mantra for the Oklahoma State football team this spring.
Even with four new coaches and two new coordinators, it seems little has changed from a year ago — and that’s exactly what Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy wants.
“I’m not looking to tweak anything,” new Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said. “We’ve been very successful here and I’m learning this offense. The tweaks, for me, may come down the line, may not ever happen. It’s all about getting good at what these players already know and what’s been successful in the past.”
Only two days into the spring practice season, Gundy said he hasn’t been able to assess the newest additions to the Oklahoma State staff. The players, on the other hand, have noticed a few changes.
“(Yurcich) has kind of taken our system, put a new spin on it and so far he’s done a great job,” Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf said. “It’s close to the same but he’s definitely added a few twists and little philosophies that he believes in. It’s a little different right now, but I’m sure as we get a little farther into the playbook there will be more little wrinkles that he wants in.”
The Oklahoma State offense isn’t the only ones getting adjusted to a new coordinator. Glenn Spencer has taken the reigns from Bill Young to become the defensive coordinator — a duty the two shared last season.
“It’s been pretty good for the most part,” Oklahoma State defensive lineman Calvin Barnett said. “It’s not going to be too much of a difference just because of the fact that he has been here on staff for the amount of time that he has been. There’s just going to be little tweaks that he’s made. Everybody has their own point of view of how they think things are supposed to be done, but it’s not going to be nothing major because he bought into the program while he was here.”
Like Yurcich, Spencer said he doesn’t plan to change too much as far as the schemes go, but he is hoping to add a little more fire to a defense that seemed to lack intensity at times last season.
“We’re looking for a little something different intensity-wise,” Spencer said. “We still don’t think we’re there yet. The first day with shorts — that’s an easy one. After you get through these pounding pads days and all, then that’s going to test their toughness. We’re going to try to test their toughness every day — we’re going to challenge them physically and mentally. You only have 15 opportunities to do that, so that’s the big thing we’re concentrating on.”
And that toughness and intensity is something that excites Barnett.
“I’m glad that my coach wants us to turn it up,” Barnett said. “It’s different if we feel that way as players, but when your coach is enforcing it and holding you accountable for it, to me it means a lot because he has big expectations for us.
“It does a lot of good just knowing that you’re going to be held accountable every day. You’re not going to have those days where you can just go to practice and take your time. We can’t just go through the motions because we know he’s looking at you. ... You’re going to be held accountable for your actions and if you’re not going full speed the entire time, he’s going to let you know.”
The schemes and plays may be similar on both sides of the ball, but one thing the Cowboys are having to deal with is the different personalities Spencer and Yurcich bring.
No longer will the Cowboy offense be fueled by an excitable and loud coordinator. Sure, Yurcich had a few moments in which he got a little excited during Oklahoma State’s practice Wednesday, but more often than not he seemed a little more reserved.
“He relaxes us more and makes us calm down and understand the offense,” Oklahoma State running back Jeremy Smith said. “We just go out there and do what we know to do and that’s the type of guy he is.”
“He’s a lot more laid back than the last two offensive coordinators were,” Oklahoma State receiver Tracy Moore added. “But he’s all about business. You don’t get many wasted words with him. When he talks, people listen.”
Barnett said even he’s adjusting to Spencer’s style, saying Spencer and new defensive line coach Joe Bob Clements have become Dana Holgorsens and Todd Monkens of this team.
“Changes happen in this business,” Barnett said. “We welcome coach Spencer and coach Clements with open arms and said, ‘We’re here.’ (Clements) is a little younger than coach Young and he’s bringing that energy to us. It’s difficult to have more fire than coach Young, but it won’t be hard to miss him on the practice field.”
It’s too early to tell when — if any — changes will occur on either side of the ball. One thing is certain, Gundy is excited to see just how much influence the recent additions will impact a team that’s hoping to contend for the Big 12 title again this season.
“I’m looking forward to watching each coach as we progress through the spring,” Gundy said. “I know that they’ve worked hard in our facility and Tim Duffie just got here, so he’s trying to learn our system. They’re good people, they’re very intelligent football coaches, so they’ll do very well here during their time at Oklahoma State.”