Where Did OSU's Trey Read Option Come From?

One of the sidelights to Oklahoma State's national emergence in college football under Mike Gundy has been that the Cowboys have been on the cutting edge of the game in adding new inventions, mainly on offense, to the football landscape. The newest slice of offense from OSU is the trey read option. The play unveiled Saturday features a three-back formation with the quarterback in the backfield.

One of the backs serves as a lead blocker, another serves as a decoy and the third is the read back that the quarterback sticks the ball in his gut and rides until making the read for the give or the keep. You could further add to the scheme with a trailing pitch man if you wanted.

When Oklahoma State unleashed the new look last Saturday on Mississippi State the Bulldogs were playing with two deep safeties. They were committed to making sure the Cowboys passing attack did not get off to a fast start.

There was plenty of room for Oklahoma State to open up running lanes and the first time Walsh ran it the play went for a 46-yard gain. He followed that up with a 12-yard pick up and then the three-yard touchdown. The Bulldogs defense was caught flat-footed.

Walsh comes out of the game leading the Big 12 in rushing with 13 carries for 126 yards and a 9.6 yards per carry average.

"I didn't know that. That's cool," Walsh said while reacting to finding that out on Monday. "The only title I want to have at the end of the season is Big 12 champs. I couldn't care less about the rest of that."

As for the scheme and where it came from, there are really two correct answers. I first saw it when watching tape of the Mike Yurcich-coached offense at Shippensburg. It was very effective in the Pennsylvania Division II conference that they play in.

"Coach Yurcich brought that with him and he's had a background in it, so they worked it in the spring and spent a little more time on it this summer," said Gundy. "They felt it would give us an advantage where we needed a slight edge."

Correct answer number two comes from Yurcich, who took advantage of newfound connections at Oklahoma State to get some tape and eyeball it run at a slightly higher level with some pretty good athletes.

"We installed that last spring. It was effective back then, so we continued to work at it. We studied tape of the San Francisco 49ers, who ran it well with Colin Kaepernick," said Yurcich. "We tried to grab some film from that. They ran some of those exact plays out of that formation, so we just looked at a lot of their tape."

Regardless of where the credit goes for the scheme the execution was good on Saturday, and so was the timing of pulling it out. That was something Gundy noted as it gave the Cowboys an advantage while giving Walsh an advantage in kick starting the offense.

"I said later that it played into his hands a little because the schemes that we used were new, similar to several years ago against Washington State when we brought out the diamond formation now that everybody is using," said Gundy.

"That was new, Washington State hadn't seen it then. Those schemes (that J.W. was running), I'm not sure they were prepared for that. That kind of played in his hand and we had an advantage in that area."

It caused me to think that going back to last spring there were some signs that some of that kind of innovation was going on in the Oklahoma State offense as Yurcich came on board. I saw the use of the diamond (trey) and thought that was natural because Yurcich had used it at Shippensburg and OSU had used it regularly, but I didn't pay close enough attention to see the read option out of it until fall camp in August.

Last spring Walsh had bragged about Yurcich picking up the offense and in the same interview talked of his goal of a future NFL career, citing Kaepernick and other quarterbacks in the NFL showing off some of a skill set they share with him.

"He did a really great job of learning a lot of it on his own and picking it up really quickly," Walsh said of Yurcich learning the OSU offense. "There were some little nuances where he wanted to pitch in and there are some things in the offense where maybe we had done things a little differently. He would ask questions about what we were most comfortable with. He wanted the best for us.

"I'm excited about that because of what they're doing in the NFL like with Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco and RGIII (Robert Griffin III) in Washington, and even (Russell) Wilson in Seattle," said Walsh of the NFL influence on him and ultimately some on the Cowboys offense.

"Those are quarterbacks my size doing things that I feel I can do and get better at," said Walsh back in the spring. "That is very exciting to me because I would like to try and play in the NFL. I hope they keep doing more and more of that."

You can take it to the bank -- and this weekend to San Antonio -- that Oklahoma State will keep doing more of it.

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