STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — As No. 19 Oklahoma State's lead ballooned to 50 and then 60 and 70, linebackers coach Glenn Spencer kept encouraging his players not to let up and to secure the school's first shutout in 11 years.
This wasn't anything against Savannah State, the struggling Football Championship Subdivision program with coaches Spencer knew from his time with them at Georgia Tech. This was about honoring one of the Cowboys' own who couldn't be there.
Spencer was filling in for defensive coordinator Bill Young, who fell ill during the week and missed the game after an undisclosed medical procedure. Without him, Oklahoma State rolled to an 84-0 victory while giving up only 139 yards — 2 yards per play.
"Even when it was the fourth-team guys there most of the second half, I said, 'It doesn't matter. We're holding you accountable so we can get this shutout for Bill.' That's what the defense was playing for," Spencer said.
Young is expected to also miss this Saturday's game at Arizona before returning the following week for the next home game against Louisiana-Lafayette. Spencer is in charge of calling defenses while Young is away, and graduate assistant Jermial Ashley has taken on a bigger role coaching the defensive line.
"He's going to be fine. He's just frustrated because he can't be out there right now, because he wants to be," Spencer said. "His wife, Lawana, and the doctors are holding him back or he would be out there because he misses it so much. But we miss him and I can't wait for him to get back, and I'll be in contact with him a lot this week, too."
In three years at Oklahoma State, Young has overseen a resurgence in the defense. The Cowboys have led the nation with 108 takeaways over the past three seasons, 17 more than any other team. That helped fuel Oklahoma State to its first Big 12 crown and a Fiesta Bowl win last season.
"We want to get him back as quick as possible, and he wants to be back as quick as possible," coach Mike Gundy said. "And there's some communication that has to take place there because for (three) years now he's been calling defenses and that communication has to get out to the field.
"You have a new guy calling them and then once he's made those calls, recording what's going on on the field, there's one less guy doing that. So, there's some adjustment that has to go on."