Mike Gundy has professed this Oklahoma State offense as one that's easy to call.
That was definitely not the descriptor that sprang to mind earlier this season when Todd Monken described the play-calling process.
The man who was then the Cowboys offensive coordinator first talked about how calling plays for a huddling team is slow and methodical. Coaches have time to look at the play sheet, to ponder the options, to look at the play sheet some more, then to finally get around to calling a play.
“Here,” he said, as his eyes shot open and his voice sped up, “it's ‘All right, flip, flip, flip, give me switch Z end.”
Controlled chaos was the scene he set.
Easy was not.
As the Cowboys enter the final week of practice for the Heart of Dallas Bowl where they will be without Monken, now the coach at Southern Miss, there is little doubt that whatever play-calling plan they've cooked up will work. They are facing an opponent that didn't see anything like this offense during the season yet still allowed half of its opponents to score more than 30 points.
OSU is going to be able to score in bunches on Purdue.
But contrary to popular belief, this offense doesn't automatically fly at warp speed.
It's easy to see where that thinking comes from. Just look at what the Cowboys have done the past couple of seasons. First, they lost Dana Holgorsen and managed to get better. Then, they lost not one but two starting quarterbacks to injury and still clicked along just fine.
The offense looks like it's on autopilot.
Much of that is because of dogged preparation that goes on during the week. Gundy pointed that out when he made his “easy” assertion.
But one of the big reasons that this offense has been so successful the past few years is its tempo.
It moves faster than a pickpocket at a millionaire's convention.
You see how that tempo affects defenses. First, it surprises them early in games. That phenomenon was evident in OSU's wins this season. In five of those seven victories, the Cowboys led by at least two scores before halftime.
Then, the offense's speed wears on defenses late in games. That's what happened in the Cowboys' other two victories, as they wore down good defenses from Iowa State and TCU. Both teams hung with them early but ultimately lost by three touchdowns.
Granted, there have been games where the tempo of offense hurt; it lengthened the game and left the defense on the field for too many plays. But many, many more times than not, the speed of the offense is one of the Cowboys' biggest assets.
That tempo is almost sure to suffer in the bowl.
Gundy, at the very least, is a rusty playcaller. It will have been almost three years to the day since he directed an offense in a game. When last he did, the Cowboys scored just one touchdown and lost to Ole Miss in the Cotton Bowl.
Seems like eons ago, doesn't it?
Adding to that, the coaches have floated the possibility of calling plays by committee. The idea is that Gundy would collaborate with offensive line coach Joe Wickline, running backs coach Jemal Singleton, and receivers coaches Kasey Dunn and Doug Meachem, or some combination thereof, before deciding on a play.
There's nothing wrong with that — so long as you don't want to play fast.
Against the Boilermakers, that may not be a big issue. Heck, the Cowboys could probably huddle before every play and still win by a couple touchdowns.
But if Monken, the man at the middle of the mayhem for the past two years, was telling the truth, play calling on game day is many things. Easy isn't one of them.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.