One-on-One With Dana Holgorsen

Oklahoma State fans have known for months that Dana Holgorsen isn't lacking in personality but on Saturday the fans got to see what they've been waiting for — and hearing about constantly — since he arrived in the spring with the debute of his high-octane spread offense. Holgorsen didn't disappoint as the Cowboys pasted Washington State 65-17.

The point total was the most OSU had scored in a season opener since before they were even OSU back in 1916. And he did it with a first-time starter and quarterback, four new offensive linemen, a young crop of receivers, two running backs coming off injuries and a third back playing in his first collegiate game.

But despite the stellar showing, the yards and points weren't piled up in the way most expected after he directed Houston to a No. 1 national rank in passing a season ago. The Cowboys ran the ball 44 times for 291 yards and five touchdowns.

Holgorsen said the drastic change in style from his past at Houston and Texas Tech warranted a little feedback from his former collegeuges.

"I've had a few calls," Holgorsen quipped. "We won, right? That's what counts. I've said it for a while, it doesn't matter how it gets done as long as it gets done."

And Holgorsen's offense got the job done in style as OSU racked up its highest point total since a 2006 rout of Baylor. Holgorsen added that he feels there is a misconception he's just a pass-happy coach. He said he's willing to adapt to whatever opportunities the defense presents his offense for success, even if it means running the ball 52 percent of the time, as the Cowboys did Saturday.

"I just do what works," he said. "Regardless of how it gets done, the overall objective is to move the ball around and score touchdowns. You go through the process of seeing what plays will do well against specific teams and you do your best of getting prepared. If they work then they do."'

And one of the plays, or more specifically formations, that worked was his unique diamond set that featured a three running back set out of the shotgun formation.

While the formation, mostly used with Kendall Hunter as the recipient and former fullbacks Bryant Ward and David Paulsen as lead blockers, looks fancy, Holgorsen has yet to come up with a name for the formation that matches it in ingenuity.

"I just call it ‘three back' because it's three backs," he said. "The second play of the game was the first time I ever did it, yea I've never done it. I guess in one of my previous lives maybe, but that's the first I remember."

And the first one was memorable. Kendall Hunter took the ball in from three yards out for his first of four touchdowns. Hunter thrived in the offense's debut, rushing for 257 yards on 12.2 yards per carry. Hunter's performance drew him some high praise from Holgorsen's former boss, ex-Texas Tech coach Mike Leach.

"(Leach) said that (quarterback Brandon Weeden) looked decent and the running back is the best in the country, and he's seen it up close and personal," Holgorsen said. "Two years ago we saw it up close and personal. He's got a tremendous amount of respect for Kendall. I didn't throw the ball a whole bunch but he said that he didn't blame me very much."

Even though the coaches discussed Hunter and the offense, Holgorsen said they didn't discuss the three-back formation.

"We didn't talk about that," he said. "You know, you get on the phone with Mike and it's a minimum of an hour anyway. If we'd got into that conversation it would've been two to three hours."

Holgorsen seemed pleased with the overall effort of the offense in its first live action but he did point to third down conversions as his main area of concern. The Cowboys finished just 4-of-14 on third down, but Holgorsen said a lot of that can be attributed to first-game jitters but he was pleased with the lack of mental mistakes and zero turnovers despite their lack of familiarity with the system.

"Oh absolutely," Holgorsen said. "Two of the first three drives were three-and-out. One of them they called a good defense for what we were trying to do but we dropped the ball and one of them Brandon made a bad decision, that's all first game jitters stuff … regardless of who it is and what the situation is, we have to make it work.

"We have been talking about playing smart since the day I got here. There are several things we preach every day and one of them is playing smart. What I mean by that is no penalties, no turnovers."


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