Mike Yurcich looked at the podium inside the press box of Boone Pickens Stadium, determined it must be made of fake wood, and then knocked on his head instead.
The Oklahoma State offensive coordinator had been asked about the Cowboys' ability to hang onto the football so far this season, as a first-half interception thrown by J.W. Walsh against Lamar is their only turnover through three games.
“You kind of feel like you're in the dugout and it's the eighth inning and you don't want to talk about that no-no. You don't want to talk about that no-hitter,” Yurcich said. “So it's good, we've got to keep it up, we've gotta continue to work at it, blah blah blah …”
Yurcich said ball security was an emphasis the first time he met Cowboy coach Mike Gundy to interview for the job he eventually landed. And it's remained that way, even coming up Monday morning before meeting with the media.
“It's something that we do every day,” Yurcich said. “Our assistant coaches to a great job of communicating and facilitating drills that help us to where Saturday, it's just habit. It's muscle memory. And that stuff comes throughout the week, and it comes with effort, and our players do a good job of understanding those fundamentals and working hard at them.”
West Virginia, OSU's opponent Saturday, has forced eight turnovers through four games.
VERSATILE WEST VIRGINIA RUNNING BACKS A CONCERN
Dana Holgorsen's Air Raid spread offense is known as a pass-heavy system. But with plenty of young players at quarterback and receiver, West Virginia has relied heavily on running backs Charles Sims and Dreamius Smith so far this season.
Not just to carry the football. To catch the football, too.
Sims and Smith both average more than five yards per carry and rank in the top 7 in the Big 12 in rushing at 82 yards per game and 62.8 yards per game, respectively. But Sims, a postgraduate transfer from Houston, is also tied for the team lead with 12 catches and has tallied 81 receiving yards.
That, Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said, presents perhaps the biggest challenge for the Cowboys defense.
“I think they consider (the running backs) a couple of their better athletes, so they're getting them out in receiving formations,” Spencer said. “That's very tough for us, because when you scheme, it's not like you can scheme a two-backfield set, then one of them shifts out and is another wide receiver.
“It challenges you with your play calling and calling on your personnel. It creates different challenges when those tailbacks are in different positions like they are.”
YURCICH ‘CALM' ON GAME DAY, GUNDY SAYS
Other than when he's captured for a few moments by a television camera, Yurcich's game day personality is not visible to those outside of the coaches box.
So what's he really like in that environment?
“Mike is very calm,” Gundy said. “They have good interaction together. We have smart coaches on our team. There are several guys on our coaching staff that are deserving of being coordinators that don't have that so-called title at this time.
“And it's important for both of our coordinators to interact with our other coaches and take advice and get information, and Mike does a nice job of that. We have had all different kinds (of people) here in many different ways. I'm happy with the way Mike handles the game, with his approach and his demeanor on game day.”