Every time a team seems to fail at doing something, the blame is focused on a single person.
Whether that be blocking, recruiting, play calling or execution, it's never a whole unit with the problem. It's one person. For about a year now, the lack of offense coming from the Oklahoma State Cowboys has been blamed on offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich.
But here's a news flash:
He's actually better than you think.
Sure, Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, is a weird place to find a Division I offensive coordinator, but it's not like he wasn't good there. In 2012, the Shippensburg Red Raiders went 11-2 while averaging 46.8 points per game. The Red Raiders also scored more than 60 four times and 73 once. His Red Raider offense threw for more than 5,000 yards under quarterback Zach Zulli, who had 54 passing touchdowns, and the team rushed for just over 1,800 yards.
That's a pretty solid offense, I don't really care what division you're playing in.
In his first year at Oklahoma State, Yurcich was good. Many seem to overlook that the Cowboys scored 50-plus points four times. OSU went 10-3 and had a visit to the Cotton Bowl under Mike Yurcich in his first year, a vast improvement from the 8-5 season and Heart of Dallas Bowl in the year before.
So what happened last year? Why did this offense look so bad? Well, the answer is pretty clear, and it's not the guy calling the plays. It's the players.
The similarities between 2012 Shippensburg and 2013 Oklahoma State are that they both had pretty solid quarterbacks. Zulli was much better than Chelf, at least in the sense that Zulli won the Harlon Hill Trophy (Best player in Division II).
Yurcich didn't have to worry about a quarterback who could only throw the deep post or seam, he had a guy who could throw period. If Chelf didn't work out, he had J.W. Walsh who can also play. They had Joseph Randle run for more than 1,400 yards.
They had a team.
Than 2014 happened. The team honestly started out great, with an impressive game against then No. 1 Florida State. J.W. Walsh threw for more than 200 yards and had three total touchdowns. The offense looked good in the 37-31 loss, or as great as you can in a loss.
But then it began to go down hill a week later. Everyone knows the story.
Walsh goes down, enter Daxx Garman. Garman had what everyone thought they wanted. A rocket arm, pocket passing quarterback who could bring the air raid back to Stillwater. Everyone was happy when he threw for more than 550 yards and four touchdowns in his first two games. They were even fine with his 370 yard, four touchdown performance against Texas Tech. But then it all went down hill.
Garman threw one or less touchdowns in the rest of his games, and the Cowboys went on a five game losing streak. The "Fire Yurcich" train was on its way down to Boone Pickens Stadium faster than ever. But I sit here and wondered, "why?"
Sure, some of the play calls could've been better. No one likes a third and long draw play to a running back who isn't that great. But sometimes you got to play field position. Sometimes you've got to realize that if you let Garman get hurt against TCU, you've got to let freshman Mason Rudolph play earlier than he already ended up having to.
No one paid attention to the fact that the line was horrid, injuries plagued the team and that the coaches hadn't recruited more than one solid quarterback in a few years. They just thought that was automatically on the offensive coordinators shoulders.
But then, when the line got somewhat healthy against Baylor and Rudolph was forcibly inserted, we saw what had been missing since really week two.
The Cowboys averaged 32 points in the last three games, which is still down from the 39 points per game from 2013. But he finally had what every successful coach needs. A team. The Cowboys hobbled through 2014, until the end. The offense looked fine when it was healthy.
This year, people are already complaining. After the win over Central Michigan, most of the CRFF mentions complained about the play calling being boring and vanilla. There's a reason for this.
They're playing the nonconference right now. This team isn't going to show off all the flashes and new (or not so new) toys they've got. Why show the world that Chris Carson is a 100-yard back right now? Why let people know that Marcel Ateman can catch more than a couple passes a game, unless you have to? Yurcich called some great games in his time here at OSU when he had the team he wanted. All of 2013 and the end of last year showed this.
Yurcich isn't (wasn't) the problem. The players, or the lack thereof in 2014, was. Just wait, everything is going to be all right.