Oklahoma State running backs coach Marcus Arroyo joked in our conversation that it is pretty humbling to have a running back now in his meeting room that knows more history and heritage about Oklahoma State football than he does.
After all, it is Arroyo that is on the road several months a year recruiting players to Oklahoma State. But the young coach that Mike Gundy introduced as one of the smartest coaches he had come across and added that Oklahoma State would be lucky to hold onto him for more than a year or two, Arroyo said he doesn't mind that Barry J. Sanders knows more OSU football lore than he does. He especially won't mind if Sanders adds to some of that lore this fall.
Arroyo said that the issue of running the football or the lack of consistently last season isn't pegged on any one group. The offense had three new coaches on staff and they were all trying to learn the system and also add contributions to it.
Now in the second year together Arroyo feels they are more stable as a staff. Offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich has said as much. Arroyo also said that last year while many fans expected that Chris Carson would come in and be instantly ready to run over Division I competition that without a complete summer Carson wasn't much further ahead of a freshman like Jeff Carr. Nobody wants to hear it, but it is a fact. Often times junior college players need an adjustment or transition period.
Arroyo liked what he saw out of Carson, Rennie Childs and Carr in the spring. The offensive line was back for a second year together as a complete unit and with the coaches more experienced together the running game improved.
Now that master of Oklahoma State Cowboy football trivia, actually he is pretty good at it, Barry J. Sanders jumps in and Arroyo said he doesn't expect Sanders to need extra time to acclimate. Sanders has a devotion and investment in the program already.
As for the X's and O's adjustment, Arroyo is familiar with the pro-style offense that Stanford employs and Sanders knows. He said he can cut through the change in style and the language difference in the offense at Oklahoma State as kind of a translator for Sanders. In other words, Arroyo can speak to Sanders in the offensive language he knows to communicate what he will need to do on series of plays and plays in the Cowboy spread and multiple offense.
It's interesting material from a coach that is an interesting person. He has been a quarterback at San Jose State, a coach of quarterbacks and an offensive coordinator at places such as Prairie View A&M, San Jose State, Wyoming, California, Southern Miss (where he worked for Todd Monken) and with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL. He called plays as the interim offensive coordinator at Tampa Bay.
Arroyo's role at OSU as running backs coach is a departure from what he has done, but he says he has learned a lot and it has made him a better coach. A more adjusted Carson, an older Carr, and a devoted Sanders will hopefully make Oklahoma State a better rushing offense this season.