Play-calling rust doesn’t figure to cost Mike Gundy. Why? Because the Oklahoma State head coach has a scoreboard-busting system in place and a quarterback who knows how to run it.
Wait. Make that quarterbacks.
Life is complex in Cowboys circles these last few days before Tuesday’s Heart of Dallas Bowl matchup with 18-point underdog Purdue. Gundy is helping to run the offensive show with the departure of offensive coordinator/quarterback coach Todd Monken to become the Southern Mississipp coach.
Playing calling input could come from receiver coaches Doug Meachem and Kasey Dunn, running backs coach Jemal Singleton and offensive line coach Joe Wickline.
Gundy has a play-calling background given he had the offensive coordinator job at Oklahoma State (under then head coach Les Miles), Maryland and Baylor. But he hasn’t done much of it since becoming the Cowboys head coach in 2005.
That will change on Tuesday at the Cotton Bowl .
“It’s fun to be back in it,” he said. “You get all the work that’s involved in preparing to attack a defense, all the film study and adjustments during practice. It’s fun. I enjoy being with the quarterbacks and getting into the Xs and Os.”
It’s easy to have fun when your offense averages 44.7 points.
“This offense and what we do pretty much runs itself,” Gundy said. “We have a base set of plays. I’ve learned over the last couple of weeks that the quarterback makes most of the decisions. There’s not a lot involved. The players understand the system. They just have to execute the game plan.”
How will the play-calling work?
“We’ve got a plan,” Gundy said. “We’ll have it broken down based on position on the field. We’ll call a play. There will be conversations that go on between coaches on the headphones. The quarterback has to make that determination when we give him the play.”
As for who the quarterback will be, all we know is that Clint Chelf will start against Purdue. Will he finish?
We’ll have to see.
Injuries sent Oklahoma State into a record-breaking quarterback rotation. Chelf started four games and threw for 1,391 yards, 12 touchdowns and six interceptions. Before that Wes Lunt opened the season as the starter and threw for 1,096 yards, seven touchdowns and six interceptions. Then there was J.W. Walsh, who threw for 1,478 yards, 11 touchdowns and three interceptions.
It’s the first time in Big 12 history, and the first time since 1996 for any college football team, that one squad had three 1,000-yard passers.
The Cowboys (7-5) combined for 4,001 passing yards, the second-best total in school history behind last year’s 5,034 yards. They rank seventh nationally in passing (333.4 yards) and 22nd nationally in rushing (215.0).
Oklahoma State’s defense, which has struggled this season (its pass defense allows 285.7 yards, which ranks 111th nationally; it allows 29.4 points), at least has stability with defensive coordinator Bill Young, who sees plenty of challenges from Purdue (6-6).
“There’s no doubt that they’re going to do what was successful,” Young said. “We’ve looked at every play of every game, and they haven’t changed that much during the season. They have a great run game, then they have the spread so you have to prepare for everything.”
While Oklahoma State was hoping for a bigger bowl, the Dallas location is perfect for its recruiting. It has 66 players from Texas, 27 from the Dallas-Fort Worth and north Texas area.
“To be in Dallas is good for our fans,” Gundy said. “It’s easy for our players and their families to get here. We didn’t have any transportation issues. It’s a very recognizable part of the country for us.
“We spend a lot time within four to six hours of here recruiting. It comes down to having the right players in the right way. It’s great exposure to be in this part of the country.”