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Dana Holgorsen's legacy at Oklahoma State more than just the offense

JENNI CARLSON COMMENTARY — Dana Holgorsen left a legacy at Oklahoma State, but it might not be exactly what you think. The Cowboys have taken Holgorsen's offense and changed it here and there, so that doesn't count. What counts? J.W. Walsh. Walsh wouldn't be at OSU if it wasn't for Holgorsen.
by Jenni Carlson Published: September 27, 2013

Dana Holgorsen left a legacy at Oklahoma State.

And we're not talking about his offense.

While Holgorsen ushered in the Air Raid era in Stillwater and altered the course of OSU football as a result, his offense has undergone enough tweaks and overhauls in the two-plus seasons since he left for West Virginia that the Cowboys are no longer running his offense. But the guy running it is his quarterback.

J.W. Walsh wouldn't be at OSU had it not been for Holgorsen.

“We knew about J.W.,” Cowboy coach Mike Gundy said of recruiting Walsh when he was in high school, “but Dana kind of pushed the issue with him.”

Saturday, Holgorsen and his Mountaineers will be tasked with trying to keep pace with Walsh and the Cowboys. OSU is averaging 45.3 points a game, and while the Cowboys have a serious cache of weapons, Walsh pulls the trigger.

“He's savvy,” Holgorsen said. “He throws the ball well. He runs well.

“He makes it work.”

Those were some of the same attributes that drew Holgorsen to Walsh when he first saw high school video of him. Walsh was ranked by as the No. 4 dual-threat quarterback in the country, and as a senior at Denton Guyer High School in suburban Dallas, he threw for 3,200 yards and ran for 1,400 yards.

Despite those eye-popping stats, though, Walsh didn't have a big-time arm. It was good enough to dominate in high school, but it was nowhere as strong as, say, Brandon Weeden, who became a star in Holgorsen's offense.

The other Cowboy coaches who watched Walsh on film could see that he didn't fit in Weeden's mold.

Why would Holgorsen want a so-so passer for his pass-happy offense?

“That conversation took place,” Gundy said.


“When we saw his tape and his history of being a winner, it didn't really take much to convince us to bring him in,” Gundy said. “But Dana was the one that kind of pushed (for him) early.

“We felt like what he brought to the table as a competitor, we would find a way to improve areas we thought would fit our offense.”

They could coach skills.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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