From The Coordinators: Todd Monken

The Fiesta Bowl is one of the most talked about match-ups of all the bowl games. It may be the most talked about offensive match-up of the bowl season. In talking with BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock on my radio show Monday, he said that he has heard from more media excited about being in Glendale, Ariz., for the Fiesta Bowl than even the BCS National Championship Game.

That begs as to why the Cowboys aren't in New Orleans but we'll consider that a dead issue for now.

The game will be an interesting offensive match-up with two of the top quarterbacks in the nation -- Andrew Luck of the Cardinal and the Cowboys strong-armed thrower Brandon Weeden.

While Stanford and Oklahoma State are both good offensively, one is more explosive and the two teams do run things differently.

"We both do it in a little bit different ways. They're more run and play-action (pass)," said OSU offensive coordinator Todd Monken, who along with head coach Mike Gundy is familiar with that style of attack from the Les Miles days and even Gundy's recent seasons as his own offensive coordinator.

"They're probably more pro-style than we are. They obviously have some very good football players, so it ought to be fun. They do it a little different. They're aggressive on offense and aggressive on defense. They've recruited well. They've got really good players, and they've done well in coaching them.

"The similarities are if you have a good quarterback, you have a chance to be really successful."

The Stanford offense is really not Monken's concern. He is much more concerned with the Cardinal defense, which like the team's offense, the Stanford defense has NFL principles and similarities.

"I think they are physical and they play 3-4 and 4-3 and they go in and out of it," Monken said the variety they show in their front. "I think they play hard and I think they give you a lot of looks.

"You can see the NFL influence on them in terms of what they like to do to mess with your protections, to disrupt your quarterback, keep your back in, third downs more of a man (cover) mentality, which is more of an NFL-type approach, the way they blitz, and the way they try not to give up big plays over the top.

"You look at the big-play reel and you don't see a lot of big plays over the top. I think they do a great job and they get their guys to play hard and they are rarely out of position and that is going to lead you to a lot of success."

Stanford has another similarity with Oklahoma State. Like the Cowboys, the Cardinal led their conference in turnover margin. But Stanford did that differently than Oklahoma State.

The Cardinal only turned the ball over 15 times all season, six fumbles and nine interceptions off the arm of the Heisman runner-up Luck. Their margin was plus eight as they forced 23 turnovers. The Cowboys won their conference and lead the nation by forcing a massive 42 turnovers.

Monken revealed the game plan against OU in Bedlam had everything to do with not turning the ball over. Don't be surprised if that's the game plan in Arizona.

"We decided we weren't going to turn it over as much against OU. I felt like that was the reason we lost at Iowa State. We turned it over way too much," Monken explained.

"We felt the best way for us not to turn it over as much was to hold onto the dang thing and not throw it to them. That sounds pretty simple. When we ran the ball, it gave confidence to our guys. We have to be able to run the football to win.

"That doesn't mean we have to run it all the time, but I think we made a conscientious effort with what we did schematically to run the ball. A lot of it had to do with what OU had prepared for us. We hadn't run that style before. We were running it well, but we got a lot of it when we needed it. We had control of the game."

Monken hopes that control will be in their hands again on the night of Jan. 2 in Arizona.


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