Oklahoma State football: Mike Yurcich's adjustments pay off

Offensive coordinator's wrinkles, like using the fullback and tight ends more, have helped the Cowboys surge down the stretch this season.
by Gina Mizell Published: November 26, 2013

— Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich stood before a crowd of reporters during the first week of spring practice in March and was asked about the personal flavor he planned to bring to the Cowboys' potent offense.

“I'm not looking to tweak anything,” he said then. “We've been very successful here and I'm learning this offense. The tweaks for me may come down the line, may not ever happen.”

Oh, they've happened.

Not a complete overhaul, such as ditching the Air Raid spread for the Wing-T.

But Yurcich has mixed in several wrinkles during the past month. Running plays under center near the goal line. Reintroducing tight ends. Giving fullback Kye Staley carries.

As a once-sputtering Cowboy offense has really begun to churn down the stretch, averaging 47.8 points over their last five games, it appears that Yurcich has found his footing, too.

“I don't know where it starts and where it ends,” Yurcich said of how he adds new elements to the game plan. “There are so many conversations that are had and so many ideas are brought up in the staff room. You go over them and you think about everything.

“A lot of things are thought of never come to the surface. You really try to play to your personnel strengths, and I think that's a lot of what we are right now.”

Before Yurcich could play to his team's personnel strengths, the Cowboys needed to get the right personnel in place.

That started against TCU on Oct. 19, when OSU made several offensive line shifts and switched from quarterback J.W. Walsh to Clint Chelf in the second quarter. The next week at Iowa State, Desmond Roland took over the starting running back job.

That trip to Ames was also the first time the Cowboys ran plays under center, producing a Roland touchdown run. At Texas Tech, an under-center play resulted in a rollout passing touchdown from Chelf to Jeremy Seaton, while Zac Veatch frequently entered the game at tight end.

But Saturday's domination of Baylor featured arguably the most creative plan, with the Cowboys pulling out two-tight-end sets with Veatch and Seaton and using a decent dose of Staley, who picked up seven carries and scored two touchdowns.

“He spreads the ball out,” Roland said of Yurcich. “No one knows who's gonna get the ball the next game. Last week, it was Kye. The week before that, it was the receivers. We passed a lot (against Baylor), and we rushed a lot the previous three games, so you never know.

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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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