STILLWATER – Todd Monken snapped his fingers rapidly Saturday night, making a point of what improvement he needed to make coming out of Oklahoma State's first major preseason football scrimmage.
The Cowboys return almost everyone from last year's dynamic offense. And they're sticking with the scheme, even with Monken new in the job of offensive coordinator.
What they don't have – and it's early, still – is that same fast-paced tempo of getting plays called and run, part of the mix a year ago when the Pokes kept defenses on their heels to the tune of 520.2 yards and 44.2 points a game, stout stats that ranked No. 1 in the Big 12 and No. 3 nationally.
And while the offense moved efficiently and effectively Saturday night, it didn't move as swiftly as the Cowboys would like.
“I need to quicken up my anticipation of the next play,” Monken said. “That's what I got out of today myself, that I need to quicken up my anticipation of what could be the next call, by down and distance, yard marker…”
Monken plans to work from the press box on game days. Saturday represented his first foray away from the sidelines this preseason, as he took a spot on the balcony of Gallagher-Iba Arena beyond what is the west end zone of the practice field.
“It was a little different because I was in the end zone,” Monken said. “I couldn't tell if it was third-and-10 or second-and-2.
“But it was good. That was a really good thing for me today.”
For Monken, it's an ongoing process in adjusting to the pace of calling plays with this OSU offense. With so many players back from a proven attack, he's making the transition — from the more conventional system he utilized recently in the NFL — more so than the players.
“We moved a little faster later in the practice, and we actually looked better,” said quarterback Brandon Weeden. “Our tempo was a lot better. We executed a lot better.
“But we started out a little slow, and that's tough. Those O-linemen are used to moving around so fast. They were looking at me saying, ‘Let's go.' I'm looking at them not knowing what to tell them.
“The transition of talking through the headset, getting the play signaled, it's just different.”
Last season, Dana Holgorsen called plays from the sideline. So the process flowed quicker with one less step in the chain. The team is also adjusting to new signals and some new terminology.
“We felt like we had to change things, because we think there are guys out there who knew what we were doing,” said Cowboys coach Mike Gundy. “You know, guys change staffs, word gets out. So we changed things. And that's slowed us down about three seconds per play. And that will be a point of emphasis this week.”
A fast pace is the goal again. And with three full weeks of practice before the Sept. 3 season opener, there's plenty of time to speed things up.
With an offense stacked with returning talent, Gundy admitted it's the one lingering item on the preseason “To Do List.”
“My message to them was,” said Gundy, “a week from (Monday), after we've had that many more practices, I want to have that part of it cleaned up. There's a lot of freshmen playing. And when you change your signals and things like that, there's still some thought and learning going on.
“We're aware of it, because we want to get back to the exact same pace we had last year. I'm really not concerned about it, but it was definitely evident in the scrimmage.”