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Chalk Talk: Does Mike Yurcich Deserve More Credit?

He probably does, but you won't see it here.

The Oklahoma State Cowboys got back to their scoring ways against Kansas State, ending the game with a total of five touchdowns and a field goal. The Cowboys struggled last week against the Texas Longhorns, but it seems that the offense is back to where it should be. Through only five games, the Cowboys are averaging almost 12 more points per game than last year's dismal 28 point average.

Although the players have a lot to do with the offense's success, the coaches also contribute through game planning and strategy. By this regard, it seems that Mike Yurcich has come into his own as OSU's offensive coordinator.

The Cowboys showed a number of different wrinkles and schemes in their win over KSU. There is a possibility that these concepts came from a number of places, but either way, Coach Yurcich was the one who brought it all together. In our opinion, this game against the Wildcats was one of Coach Yurcich's best called games as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State.

Baylor-ifying the Offense

Last week, we voiced our concern with the Cowboys' tendency to go back to the same inside run play over and over again against UT. It seemed that the Cowboys would only run the ball up the middle in heavy formations, often leading to a minimal gain.

Coach Yurcich and the OSU coaching staff fixed this problem with a simple adjustment. Along with their regular usage of the Cowboy Back, OSU used a trips formation to help their run game.

The Cowboys used this formation along with an inside run play. Here, you can see the run design with the tackle pulling through the A gap to block the linebacker. On one side, a receiver is running a backshoulder fade. On the other side, the inside slot receiver runs a hitch route while the outside slot receiver runs a bubble. This play is popular among Big 12 teams, most notably TCU and Baylor.

If properly executed, this play theoretically has an answer for any possible defensive formation or coverage.

trips wrap

If the defense plays a base coverage, the quarterback hands the ball up the middle; as we have mentioned in previous pieces, an equal amount of blockers to defenders (5-on-5, 6-on-6, etc) is considered an offensive advantage in between the tackles.

trips wrap give

If a defender on the trips side creeps into the box, the quarterback aborts the run and throws to whichever receiver is uncovered. In this case, receiver Austin Hayes (#88) finds a void in the coverage for a nine yard gain.

trips wrap throw

If a safety enters the box and the trips side is covered by three defenders, the quarterback throws the ball to the isolated receiver on a back shoulder fade. In the back shoulder fade, the quarterback aims the ball on the back shoulder of the receiver, who is expected to turn and get the ball. Because of the ball placement, the defender cannot possibly tip or intercept it. For more coverage on the back shoulder fade, click here.

trips wrap bsf

While this pass was incomplete, it is encouraging that Rudolph is putting the ball where he should. With two linebackers in the box and all three receivers covered on the right side, this was the right decision.

Trick Plays with Tempo

Ever since his arrival at Oklahoma State, coach Yurcich has used a set up play before his trick plays, meaning that he will have the offense run a play, quickly line up, and then run the trick play.

When OSU used this on Saturday, not only did it end in a huge gain, but it also shifted momentum back in the Cowboys' favor.

In the middle of the third quarter, the Cowboys started their drive by running an outside zone out of a trips formation.

stretch set up

Immediately after the play's conclusion, the team rushed to their spots for the next play.


They lined up so quickly that the referee barely had time to place the ball. The Cowboys then called up the flea flicker; the defense bit on the initial handoff, and Jhajuan Seales slipped through the secondary for a 43 yard gain.

flea flicker

Coach Yurcich has discovered that by disguising a trick play with tempo, it leaves the defense susceptible to over-pursuit. The strategy worked in his favor here; the play sparked an eight play, 71 yard touchdown drive that put the score at 28-26.

The Cowboys then tried a two point conversion, which failed, but they coincidentally used a play that TCU had used just a week prior. Even though it didn't work, kudos to the staff for their creativity.

Walshing Machine Update - Week 5

J.W. Walsh's package has given the Pokes a certain efficiency in goal line and short-yardage situations. Walsh has made the most of his new role, and both he and the coaching staff have put together a group of plays that have proven successful thus far. Let's take a look at one example in particular:

The Cowboys love to use Walsh in their own form of a Wildcat package. In many cases, a receiver will come across the formation in a jet motion, and Walsh can either flip the ball to him or keep it up the middle.

In this case, Walsh keeps the ball and follows the pulling guard on a power play. While this particular play didn't get much, it has had success in the past.

jet keep

In the case below, Walsh surprised the defense by flipping it to McCleskey for an easy touchdown.

jet flip

The entire defense expected Walsh to keep the ball, and when McCleskey received the ball in full stride, he simply beat the frozen defenders to the corner of the end zone.

If what we've talked about is any indication, this coaching staff put together a masterful game plan against the Wildcats. Coach Yurcich deserves at least a bit of the credit, even though he may not have installed everything himself. We aren't saying that he's perfect — he gets vanilla on occasion, and there are times when you'd think the playbook is a page long — but it works both ways, as it's very possible that those decisions are affected by the other coaches as well.

In conclusion, what we saw on Saturday was impressive, no doubts about it. Considering the fact that the Cowboys put up 36 points against one of the conference's best defenses, especially in spite of two mindless turnovers, we are satisfied at least until next week.