STILLWATER — Bill Young has created himself a steep mountain of expectation to climb.
The Oklahoma State defensive coordinator was the biggest difference-maker in the Cowboys' 2009 season, creating a defense which was the foundation of a 9-4 season and Cotton Bowl berth.
Now, heading into 2010, Young must replace nine starters on defense while dealing with the normal expectation of improvement in the second year under his defensive system.
"The little bit of a problem we are having is that we have a couple of new guys on our second unit," said Young, who has coached at USC, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Miami during his 30-plus year coaching career. "The veteran players like Ugo (Chinasa), Orie Lemon, Justin Gent, those guys have (the system) down to a fine art, we just gotta have some other guys catch up."
Young has faced similar situations at two of his previous stops as a defensive coordinator.
At Kansas in 2003, Young faced a similar rebuild. The Jayhawks returned six starters, but three of them were sophomores and six of the defensive starters were sophomored.
That Young defense improved despite its youth:
Total yardage allowed: Down from 472.2 to 412.6 per game.
Rushing yard allowed: Down from 256.3 to 194.7.
Points per game: Down from 42.2 points to 30.5.