STILLWATER — Mike Gundy has noticed a recent change in new Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich.
An audible change.
“He's more vocal on the practice field than he was two weeks ago,” the head coach said of Yurcich.
That's a sign Yurcich is naturally becoming more comfortable in his new role as he prepares to make his unofficial debut in front of OSU fans at the Cowboys' spring finale Saturday afternoon at Boone Pickens Stadium.
“I appreciated his willingness to come in and listen and learn,” Gundy said. “I would think from this point forward, as he knows our players and our coaches and our quarterbacks that he can proceed differently now.
“I think that it's smart that all of us — in whatever profession we're in, whatever we do — the more we listen, we're usually better off. And I think that he's had that approach.”
Yurcich, Gundy and players continue to stress that any tweaks Yurcich has made to the Cowboys' Air Raid spread offense are minor. Perhaps a different read for the quarterback on certain plays. Or different terminology used to describe those plays when they're relayed from the sideline during practice.
The most noticeable on-field change? Speed.
“I'm not going to lie,” receiver Tracy Moore said, “it's a lot faster than when Coach (Dana) Holgorsen was here.”
Likely faster than any offense in OSU history, which is no small feat. The Cowboys were already running an up-tempo, no-huddle attack designed to keep opposing defenses off-balance and to allow the offense to rhythmically march down the field. Since Holgorsen first installed this system before the 2010 season, OSU has run an average of 77 plays per game.
But last season's quarterback carousel somewhat slowed OSU's pace last season, Gundy said. And when the coach needed to hire a new coordinator this past offseason, he began looking for one who was already using a fast tempo.
When he popped in Shippensburg film, that offense often snapped the football before the chains were set.
“It is just unbelievable how fast it goes,” offensive lineman Parker Graham said. “A lot of us feel like we were conditioned to play in the last offense we had. And then this one it's just like, ‘Oh my Gosh, it's even faster than the last one,' if that's even possible.
“Whenever the games come, we'll be hounding on those refs to put the ball down, so we can go.”
Another possible area where Yurcich could make an early imprint? The quarterback run game with Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh, including Walsh's special short-yardage and goal-line package. Yurcich had a mobile quarterback at Shippensburg in Zach Zulli and thus has experience implementing that into a pass-happy spread.
When asked what he plans to focus on Saturday, Yurcich rattled off a long list. Running the football. Play-action. Quick throws and screen passes. Perhaps a dash of plays out of empty-back sets.
“We want to make sure that we're getting everything called that we've worked on all spring and that we're working the base package,” Yurcich said.
During the past month, Yurcich has enjoyed the process of getting acclimated at OSU and said he now feels he has a “firm grasp” of the offense. That echoes Gundy's observation from the practice field.
And Yurcich's similar — but faster — scheme will be showcased for the first time Saturday.
“Just to see guys run around and have fun,” Yurcich said. “Just to see our fundamentals really come through and the stuff that we've been working on, to see that really flourish in the spring game would be a good thing.”