STILLWATER — Mike Yurcich got the initial call from Mike Gundy about his open offensive coordinator position the first week of February.
A little more than a month later, he's prepping for his first spring directing the Cowboys' offense after making the jump from Division II's Shippensburg University.
Speaking publicly for the first time since being hired, Yurcich had a teleconference with local reporters Thursday morning to discuss his transition, learning the Air Raid spread offense, the upcoming quarterback competition and, yes, Star Wars Legos.
What has the transition period over the last month been like for you?
“Getting the family moved was a priority. They're here in Stillwater now, so that's a good thing. They're all settled in. That was a big deal. And just trying to get familiar with the offense. I've tried to watch as much film as possible, going back to last year, 2011 and 2010. Just getting my hands on as much film as possible and just trying to get with the staff. It seems like there's a lot to do. And recruiting, as well. It's all been kind of a whirlwind, but just trying to take one thing at a time and trying to juggle a couple things, as well.”
I know it's difficult to truly evaluate until you see players on the field, but what are your early thoughts on the pieces you have in this offense and, specifically, the three quarterbacks?
“Overall, from a personnel standpoint, I'm very impressed with who we are. As far as the quarterbacks go, I'm going to hold off all assessments until I'm able to see them live and in person throughout spring drills and spring practice.”
How similar is this offense to what you ran at Shippensburg?
“I would say very similar. We did a few things in the run game that were a little bit different, but for the most part, there is a lot of carryover.”
Is there a balance between staying true to this system and putting your own spin on it?
“I'll be quite frank with you. Right now, I'm so involved with trying to learn the Oklahoma State offense that I have, really, not even come close to trying to tweak or adjust or develop the offense. I want to get involved and learn what these players know and what they've been good at. I'll be honest with you, I don't know where the tweaks will come and when they will come, if they will come. The offense is gonna be designed around these players and what they can do, but also what we've done in the past. This system will stay intact, and it's my duty right now to learn that. That's really been my focus.”
What most impresses you about this system? Why is it so effective?
“The ability to move at a fast pace, the ability to tempo the defense is striking. The ability to score fast, to score plenty. And at the same time, to be able to do those two things and have ball security at a premium are the things that really strike me about this offense.”
Has Gundy expressed wanting to have a starting quarterback identified by the end of the spring? Is that what you want?
“I'm not going to make any predeterminations and that sort of thing. We are going to let it all play out and see where we are at that point.”
The YouTube video of you diagramming plays with Star Wars Legos circulated pretty quickly. What's the story behind that?
“It was our campus TV station that was putting me on, and they asked me to interview. I showed up at the TV station and the guy there had that table all set up for me and he wanted to go through the trick play that we ran at Homecoming for a touchdown against Kutztown. So he had R2D2 — and I don't even know what other characters were there — but they were all lined up and he wanted me to go through that, so I obliged. I thought it was harmless at the time, but social media nowadays, you never know what is going to pop up.”
Have you used that tactic again? Would you?
“Hey, whatever works. If it means we are going to score a touchdown, then yeah, sure, I will use Legos.”
What are you most looking forward to about Monday's first practice?
“Just getting out there and watching the guys go and getting in the flow of things. There's a feeling you get when you hit the field as a coach. It makes you feel alive and that feeling, it's just an ‘it' thing. I don't know what it is about getting on the field and hearing the noises and smelling the smells. It's just a lot of fun for me and I can't wait to do it.”