Oklahoma State football: A closer look at Mike Yurcich's up-and-down first season at OSU

It was an uneven overall body of work in Year 1 for Mike Yurcich, who made the giant leap from coordinating Division II's Shippensburg University to directing a Cowboy squad expected to pile up yards and points with regularity.
by Gina Mizell Published: January 4, 2014

— Mike Yurcich's debut season as Oklahoma State's offensive coordinator largely mirrored the Cowboys' overall path during the 2013 season.

Rocky beginning.

Extended promising stretch throughout the middle.

Two thuds at the end.

It was an uneven overall body of work in Year 1 for Yurcich, who made the giant leap from coordinating Division II's Shippensburg University to directing a Cowboy squad expected to pile up yards and points with regularity.

But many have a short memory. Which means those last two performances in Bedlam and the Cotton Bowl will likely linger into the offseason and the 2014 campaign.

For large stretches in that home loss to OU, the Cowboys abandoned a rushing attack that produced 144 yards and two touchdowns from Desmond Roland. Clint Chelf and the OSU pass game was inconsistent throughout, until a late fourth-quarter touchdown drive that would have been the game-winner had the Cowboy defense held up in the final minute.

Then the Cowboys sputtered for three quarters in the Cotton Bowl against Missouri, especially on third down (9-of-22). The Tiger defense stuffing Jeremy Smith for a loss of two yards on a third-and-1 run up the middle in the third quarter best exemplified the Cowboys' struggles to convert on third-and-manageable.

In Bedlam, Yurcich had to game plan against Mike Stoops. That's a challenging coaching matchup for any rookie at this level.

But with nearly a month to prepare for the Cotton Bowl, OSU's game plan, from a creativity standpoint, more closely resembled Bedlam than the ones that seemed to bring new wrinkles with each week as the Cowboys' captured seven consecutive victories.

OSU did not take Auburn's zone-read route to try to attack Missouri's defense. In fact, the Cowboys did not use the quarterback run game much at all, until Chelf sprang free for a 23-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter and then another key 23-yard scamper just before the late fumble that turned into Missouri's clinching score.

Rather, the Cowboys clearly tried to get Josh Stewart involved early. Not a bad plan, considering Stewart is OSU's top playmaker and particularly dangerous in space. But Stewart was also still clearly hobbled by injuries, sporting a heavily bandaged left ankle and a clunky brace on his right knee.

Continue reading this story on the...

by Gina Mizell
OSU Sports Reporter
Gina Mizell joined The Oklahoman in August of 2011 as the Oklahoma State beat writer, where she covered the Cowboys' historic run to the Big 12 championship and Fiesta Bowl in her first season on the job. Before arriving in Stillwater, Gina was...
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