The general feeling about Monken from the Cowboys has been that things won't change and that the play calling and offensive rhythm will mirror the Cowboys' 2010 approach. However, at the OSU football media luncheon on Thursday, senior quarterback Brandon Weeden opened up about what makes Monken and Holgorsen different.
"(Monken) is more by the book, you're going to take notes and all the way up until game time, he's going to be coaching," Weeden said. "Whereas, Dana, he was done by Friday night. By Friday night, we were ready to go, we'd repped so many times and by Saturday he just let your mind go. I think Monken will be a little but different. There will be a test or something probably, that's just the way he is; he's intense about it. Dana wasn't like that, he felt like he had us ready by Friday night."
Weeden clarified that by no means is that a condemnation of Monken's approach or that he does an inferior job of preparing the offense, rather it's just a different and more traditional method of coaching as opposed to Holgorsen's unorthodox style.
"All joking aside, I think he'll have us ready to play and he'll make us work to get there," Weeden said.
When Monken arrived in the spring, he met with OSU offensive players to discuss the offense and the direction it should go, telling the Tulsa World at the time, "With all of the returning starters, it would be silly to break up what they already have going. When I was at Louisiana Tech, we were no-huddle. When I was at Oklahoma State under Les, it was power running and going straight ahead. The key is to be flexible."
And, according to Weeden, Monken's ability to be flexible and learn the ins and outs of what Holgorsen ran at OSU has been key. Especially since Holgorsen had the tendency to call plays based on feeling over game plan.
"Pretty much (he winged it), but it worked," Weeden said. "The thing about Dana, the reason he's so good, is he knows how to call plays. He has a feel for calling plays, he knows how to set plays up and he's really good at it. This isn't coach Monken's offense so he has to learn something new."
And learning a style as abnormal as Holgorsen's can be a tremendous challenge.
"If you look back and say, ‘why did coach Holgorsen do that?' you'll just scratch your head and you'll never figure it out; he just thought outside the box," Weeden said. "Coach Monken comes from the NFL and it's not like that. It's methodical, there's a reason for everything. He's still trying to get a grasp of that whereas Dana would do stuff to do stuff sometimes and it worked; the reverse to Blackmon, we set that up three of four times before, we run it and he goes 65 yards for a touchdown.
"There were just plays like that throughout the entire year that was just him being creative and thinking outside the box. Monk's a little different than that."
While Monken has said he is set on running his offense similarly to Holgorsen's to maintain a level of consistency and production, given the returning personnel, he will implement his own style and specific wrinkles, while at the same time eliminating others.
"Tweak what you can and have those guys buy in," Monken said. "Some of the things that they did before, we are not going to do them because I don't believe in them but certain things that they did we are going to keep doing. I've been through a lot of offenses and it's not rocket science. There is a little bit as far as trying to figure out why and what was Dana thinking here. What's the system that's involved and then trying to figure out what Dana did and figuring out why there was success."
Even though the two offensive gurus might have their differences, one area where they are undoubtedly on the same page is one that will continue to show through the Cowboy offensive attack — fearlessness.
"I don't think it's plays, I think there are a lot of involving swagger and confidence and the way you practice, believing in what you are doing and they did a great job last year and I think it's absence of fear," Monken said. "At anytime we are trying to score from the 2-yard line coming out or the 3-yard line going in … It's an absence of fear that carries over to your players and when you see it in other coaches and they believe whatever they believe in it rubs off on their players and they do it better than anyone else … whatever we evolve to is whatever we feel comfortable with and whatever we have success with."