Bill Young knows what it is like to coach at Tulsa having been over there in the early 80's coaching for John Cooper. Back in his time there Young was not only the defensive coordinator but also the strength coach and as it was pointed out in Mike Gundy's news conference, Larry Coker was there at the time as the offensive coordinator and he also handled the role of equipment manager. Things have changed dramatically as Tulsa is now one of the top programs in Conference USA and has a nice stadium with much nicer facilities. In fast, this will be Oklahoma State's first visit to the now named Chapman Stadium. Young dismisses last year's blowout 65-28 at Boone Pickens Stadium, he knows it is different playing over there.
"Just look at the record. I can't spit it out verbatim, but I think over there (at Tulsa), I think it's 31 total games and they've won 22 of them, or something like that," said Young with the actual count being 22-14-1 in Tulsa. "I know they've won the majority of them. (Tulsa) won when I was over there coaching. It's a tough place to play and they're very emotional about this game."
The Cowboys are better defensively than last season, or at least at this stage appear to be. They have done a good job of stopping the run, rushing the quarterback and the actual points allowed by the first team defense in two games is 20, or an average of 10.0 points per game compared to the 24.0 per game listed in the NCAA stats. Young knows with Hurricane quarterback G.J. Kinne, his defense will have a chore on Saturday night.
"We played them last year, so we're pretty familiar with their talent. I coached at Tulsa for five years, so I know how emotional this game will be for them. We're expecting a heck of a fight," said Young on the offense in general. "He's (Kinne) a very, very strong guy. He ran the ball really well against Oklahoma and Tulane. We saw him last year, so we know what kind of arm he's got."
The biggest problem for Young, and he joked about it this summer when the 9 p.m. game time was set for television, will be staying up. Young would much prefer an earlier game time and would rather be in his recliner before the expected end time on Saturday of sometime around 1 a.m. Sunday morning.
Todd Monken, Offensive Coordinator
In week one for Todd Monken it was a three-man front from ULL and last week you had the heavy 4-2 attack from Arizona, and now with Tulsa former Oklahoma State linebacker and defensive coordinator Brent Guy is back in the state and coaching a 4-3-4 attack on defense for Tulsa head coach Bill Blankenship. Monken has another 3-4 attack ahead in the Aggies Tim DeRuyter. That is a lot of adapting, but as head coach Mike Gundy likes to say, the Cowboys have seen just about everything.
"It's a completely different philosophy how they go about trying to defend you," said Monken of the TU defense. "What you see on tape: these guys will play hard, they're structurally sound and probably have more gap integrity. Teams that are more three-down, bringing guys off edges for more disruption, you're going be a higher risk/reward, whereas most four-down teams, they're going to be more consistent on how they approach it and not give up big plays and fit the run probably more effectively. So, you game-plan it a little bit differently, but again, that's probably the biggest difference."
It probably doesn't matter what the Golden Hurricane does on defense if the Cowboys keep starting fast like they did against Arizona and have seemingly been able to do in most of their games. Don't worry about the 9 p.m. start time as the players say that is usually when their nights normally kickoff, so 9 p.m. for them is no problem. Monken said neither should be starting quick because that is really up to each player on the offense.
"I think the biggest things start with each individual player. Everybody says, 'Start fast,' which there's not one team I've ever been on that didn't say, 'Hey, we have to start fast.' But how do you do that? Well, each individual player has to prepare each week leading up to the game what to anticipate, and then right at the get-go, they have to play their best football right out of the block," explained Monken. "Every guy, it's up to them to start fast and then your team will start fast. And then I think you settle on things you do well and stick with that. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I've never gone into a game not planning on starting fast and sometimes it's something you do or something they do that stops you. The first drive against Arizona, we had a third-and-six or seven, maybe eight, Josh Cooper just gets it. I didn't think he got a first down, otherwise we don't score three straight times. So there's a few plays within that kind of work your way, so that's basically the guys starting off fast individually."
Honestly, this is the biggest mismatch on the field on Saturday. Tulsa has good athletes and they play hard, but Oklahoma State has one of, if not the very best offense in Division I college football.