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Oklahoma State football: Defense coaches trying to compensate for Bill Young's absence

While Young is sidelined, Glenn Spencer and other defensive assistants are preparing for a quick, powerful Arizona offense
By Gina Mizell Published: September 3, 2012

STILLWATER — Glenn Spencer described his emotions as anxious as he put his headset on Saturday.

Mostly for his Oklahoma State players, who were about to kick off the 2012 season against Savannah State. But partly because his partner, Bill Young, was not in his familiar spot on the Cowboy sideline.

“There was anxiousness, because it hasn't happened before,” Spencer said.

For the first time since Young returned to his alma mater in 2009, OSU played a game without its defensive coordinator after he underwent an undisclosed medical procedure. And following a test run of sorts in an 84-0 blowout victory, Spencer, the Cowboys' co-defensive coordinator who has taken over Young's responsibilities, cornerbacks coach Jason Jones and safeties coach Van Malone will attempt to compensate for Young's absence again. This time, the Cowboys will travel to Tucson to take on an Arizona team that racked up 624 yards of total offense against Toledo in its season opener.

Young has been a mainstay on the OSU sideline as the veteran coordinator with more than 40 years of coaching experience, the calming presence and the defensive playcaller.

But even in losing all of that, and even with some pregame jitters, Spencer said last week and game day went smoothly.

That's also because of Young, Spencer said.

“It's an ‘us' operation with him,” Spencer said. “That's the way it's always been. He's taken input. Everybody's involved. So when he wasn't there, it made the transition smooth.”

Added OSU head coach Mike Gundy: “(Spencer and Young) have that relationship, and it works in that situation. That's why we named Glenn a co-defensive coordinator and Bill was OK with it. Some coaches don't like that. Most guys in our profession have an ego. … That's never been an issue with Bill Young.”

Since being promoted to co-defensive coordinator last season, Spencer has had a role in the defensive game planning. Still, not having Young last week called for some adjustments — ones that will continue for the Arizona game on Saturday.

During certain meetings, the defensive linemen and linebackers — the position groups coached by Young and Spencer, respectively — met together. During practice, the defensive linemen worked with graduate assistant Jermial Ashley, who played for Young at Kansas and has been a GA at Oklahoma State for three seasons.

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