The Norman Transcript

September 4, 2013

Opener differs for OSU coordinators

By Jason Elmquist
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — It was a slow start for one coordinator, while the other put out a product that produced the program’s best game in two decades.

Despite the tools, and recent history, surrounding the Oklahoma State offense, first-year offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich didn’t make that much of a splash in his first game at the Division I level.

Coming in from Shippensburg (Pa.) University, a Division II program, Yurcich broke into the Division I level thanks to his high-powered production — last year his team led Division II with 529.9 yards per game, and was second in points at 46.85 per contest.

“Every game that I’ve been a part of since I was a little kid playing has been full of anxiety and this was no different,” Yurcich said.

In his first showing with the Cowboys, it took nearly the entire first half before Oklahoma State scored a touchdown. And it wasn’t in the way OSU fans have become accustomed to the past few years — Oklahoma State utilizing the run with J.W. Walsh, instead of looking like an air raid offense.

“Obviously, we’d love to lead the nation in offense, but if we win 3-0, that’s a victory,” Yurcich said. “Sure, we want more offensive production. We want to get off to a faster start. We want to score on our first drive. And we want to lead the country in offense. We want those things, too. That’s the standard around here. But ultimately, winning the football game is the most important thing.”

While Yurcich’s first shot at the big time came off with a whimper, OSU’s defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer put together a game plan that held Mississippi State’s offense to just three points. It was the fewest points given up by a Cowboy defense to a BCS Conference opponent since a shutout of Bedlam rival Oklahoma in 1995.

“It’s not about me and the play calling. It’s about those players executing and we’ve got good players, experienced players and they went out and executed it well,” Spencer said.

While it wasn’t Spencer’s first time having to call the defensive plays — having done it against Arizona last year in Bill Young’s absence — it was still his first official game as the defensive coordinator — no “assistant” label attached. And the players under his watch were happy to start his tenure off right.

“He brings a lot of intensity to the table. As old as Coach Spencer is, he’s one of the most hyper men,” defensive tackle James Castleman said. “... I’m excited for him that we were able to help him get that first win under his belt as the defensive coordinator.”

Perhaps a reason for the improved play on defense for Oklahoma State was the different approaches Spencer is taking. All the talk before the season was him looking to be more aggressive — that shaped into three sacks and a pair of interceptions for the Pokes.

Jason Elmquist is the sports editor at the Stillwater NewsPress