DALLAS – Bill Young says he wants to keep coaching. That's what an afternoon of playing against a Big Ten offense will do for you.
The beleaguered OSU defensive coordinator found an oasis in an exasperating season. The Cowboys routed the Boilermakers 58-14 Tuesday in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, thanks in part to a Purdue offense that had all kinds of alien concepts, like huddles and tight ends and off-tackle handoffs.
You know, the kind of things the Cotton Bowl saw when it was a modern stadium and not a relic. Circa 1965.
“Nice to get a look at two backs and a tight end, get everybody packed into the box a little bit,” said co-defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer. “Don't get exposed quite as much.”
Best of all for State was the tempo. The Boilermakers took it slow. They had the ball almost six more game minutes than did OSU, but ran three fewer plays.
“Legs feeling a lot better than a Big 12 game,” OSU safety Daytawion Lowe said with a smile. “Their tempo was a lot slower. Gave us time to get lined up. Most Big 12 teams, as soon as the play is over, they're lined up to run another play.”
Makes a big difference. Defenses can expand the game plan. Get lined up right. Buckle down.
“Always helps when a team gets in the huddle and you can see the play and not worry about them stopping the ball,” said OSU's other safety, Shamiel Gary.
So after a regular season chasing the jet-stream receivers of Landry Jones and Geno Smith, Nick Florence and David Ash, the Cowboys capped the season with old-fashioned fun.
And Young saying he would be back.
“Shoot, I'm going to coach until someone tells me I can't,” Young said.
Three weeks ago, the 1968 OSU graduate said he was unsure about his coaching future. Young had a superb 2011 season, with his defense bending but not breaking and leading the nation in takeaways. 2012 was not so grand, with the Cowboys getting torched in the final two weeks of the regular season, by OU and Baylor.
Mike Gundy said Tuesday he hadn't discussed Young's future with him but plans to have him back, if that's what Young wants.
“He's a great coach,” Lowe said.
Forget the coaching part. Spencer said Young is a great man.
“Never been around a better human being in the business,” Spencer said. “ He's earned the right to leave when he wants to. Tremendous influence not only on me, but the whole staff, and these young men. Great example for our defensive players, to see how a good man is supposed to act.”
Give Young a steady diet of Big Ten offenses, and he might want to coach forever.
“Really don't want to comment on that,” Young said.
But believe it. Defending the field deep and wide, like what is mandatory in the Big 12, can wear on a defense. Young estimated that Lowe and Gary, who both were sensational against Purdue, played 900 snaps in the regular season.
“That's way too many,” Young said. “They were so beat-up at the end of the year. This time off … they were fresh and ready to go. They were different players than they were at the end of the year.”
Now, let's not cut the Cowboy players short. Purdue has some strengths. Those tight ends and fullbacks aren't in there for show. They're on the field to knock your block off, and the Boilermakers tried. Tailback Akeem Shavers gained 93 yards on 14 carries.
“They could have very well got in there and knocked us off the ball,” Spencer said. “So that's what we worked on all bowl practices, was the physical part of that game.”
The Cowboys stayed tough. They pitched a shutout until the last minute of the third quarter, produced five turnovers (three via fumbles on strips and one interception off a tipped pass) and sacked quarterback Robert Marve thrice.
The OSU defensive showing was such that Purdue interim coach Patrick Higgins said, “I thought their defense is just as good as their offense.”
You haven't heard that phrase uttered about the Cowboys since, oh, 1985.
Marve is not a bad quarterback, but the Purdue receivers didn't show much, either in separation or ball skills. The Boilermakers actually had a decent scheme – some Marve throwbacks were downright spiffy – but the Cowboys just had better athletes.
“I think the overall speed of our football team … that's what made the difference,” Gundy said.
And so go the Cowboys into 2013 with renewed confidence, an 8-5 record and a defensive coordinator whose spirits were buoyed by a Big Ten offense.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.