Sham did the ESPN radio broadcast of the Cotton Bowl and wanted the background on what he saw as an interesting hire, which is something we all felt when Gundy made the move last winter. I explained that Gundy told me he went to the internet and the NCAA site and stats looking for a school with high powered and balanced offense at a lower level than FBS.
The reasoning was that an offensive coordinator stepping up would more readily agree to conforming to OSU's existing offense and using the schemes and terminology the players were already familiar with rather than wanting to implement his own system. That was what Gundy wanted.
It is safe to assume that with the improvement of the Oklahoma State defense -- the Cowboys held opponents to an average of 21.6 points and 384.9 yards a game along with a +15 in turnover margin -- that Cowboys fans are quite pleased with defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer and his staff.
However, the numbers were down some of offense for the Cowboys. In his first year with the celebrated and often examined move of Yurcich to OSU from NCAA Division II Shippensburg State, let's compare the previous four seasons on offense for Oklahoma State. I also compared the numbers at Shippensburg from Yurcich's final season in 2013 and what the Raiders did on offense this season in the first year after his departure.
(with and without Mike Yurcich)
2012 (last season under Yurcich) PPG-46.8, RushYPG-143.4, PassYPG-387.7, TotalYPG-531.1, TO(I/F-T)-12/9-21, 3rd Down%-44%, Red Zone%-79%
2013 (first season without Yurcich)
PPG-37.4, RushYPG-130.2, PassYPG-335.0, TotalYPG-465.2, TO(I/F-T)-12/12/-24, 3rd Down%-40%, Red Zone%-80%
(for last 4 offensive coordinators including Mike Gundy)
2009 (last season with Gundy serving as his own OC)
PPG-28.4, RushYPG-187.8, PassYPG-179.5, TotalYPG-367.2, TO(I/F-T)-14/16-30, 3rd Down%-37%, Red Zone%-87%
2010 (only season with Dana Holgorsen as OC)
PPG-44.2, RushYPG-174.4, PassYPG-345.8, TotalYPG-520.2, TO(I/F-T)-14/8-22, 3rd Down%-43%, Red Zone%-95%
2011 (first season with Todd Monken as OC)
PPG-48.7, RushYPG-158.6, PassYPG-387.2, TotalYPG-545.8, TO(I/F-T)-13/10-23, 3rd Down%-49%, Red Zone%-89%
2012 (second season with Todd Monken as OC)
PPG-45.7, RushYPG-215.3, PassYPG-331.7, TotalYPG-547.0, TO(I/F-T)-16/6-22, 3rd Down%-46%, Red Zone%-93%
2013 (first season with Mike Yurcich as OC)
PPG-39.1, RushYPG-171.6, PassYPG-277.2, TotalYPG-448.7, TO(I/F-T)-13/5-18, 3rd Down%-38.7%, Red Zone%-88%
Examining statistics is much more of a creative process than you might think as people can twist numbers to mean just about anything. I am not an expert on Shippensburg but they did return a number of starters including the 2012 Harlon Hill Trophy (Division II equivalent of the Heisman) winner Zach Zulli at quarterback. I think that is mostly a fair comparison and the Raiders were better with Yurcich as the OC.
Now on OSU's numbers, 2009 was much different in a balanced offense under Gundy with Zac Robinson at quarterback. Holgorsen in 2010 did exactly what Gundy wanted him to and Holgorsen gained from Gundy what he wanted with a more thorough playbook on the rushing side.
The Cowboys had Brandon Weeden and a freshman Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith at running back with plenty of receivers. Monken came in for 2011 and ran the Holgorsen attack combined with some of his NFL running and passing schemes. It was as good as it gets.
In 2012, the Cowboys, still under Monken, had to adjust throughout the season because of injuries and changes at quarterback. Notice the rushing number improved dramatically because they had to rely often on Randle and Smith. Two NFL players in Weeden and Blackmon were gone from the offense and Randle was the only NFL Draft candidate left on the unit.
Now in Yurcich's first year, if you compare his numbers at Shippensburg you will see he wants to throw the ball, much like OSU has relied on at times. However, neitherClint Chelf nor J.W. Walsh have the strong arm like Brandon Weeden and Wes Lunt to gun the ball all over the field. They are passers that can compliment a strong running game, but not passers that stand more alone in an offense.
Randle was gone and with a different makeup on the offensive line and different running backs, the Cowboys could not repeat the rushing numbers of 2012. I honestly feel that is the biggest difference in this offense between 2013 and last season.
Two notes for the future, Yurcich is now in charge of quarterback recruiting and he has recruited a superlative candidate to quarterback this offense from a passing standpoint. Mason Rudolph of Rock Hill (Northwestern), S.C., has mobility and is a big athlete, but he has a strong arm more in the mode of Weeden and Lunt.
Also, you can know expect Yurcich to have time to inject some of his ideas and schemes to the offense in place at Oklahoma State.
Some Cowboys fans may be frustrated with the offense in 2013, and some may be mad at Mike Yurcich, but I also think they should wait to see as he helps recruit and the offense has time to grow under Yurcich, and he has time to help tweak and morph the offense into something he is more comfortable with as well.