Mike Yurcich used to serve as Oklahoma State’s offensive coordinator, and now he’s calling plays for Texas. His history with the Cowboys, however, is just that.
Yurcich said in a Wednesday teleconference that he doesn’t anticipate his former allegiance to Oklahoma State to influence his game plan when the Longhorns travel to Stillwater, Oklahoma, to face the Cowboys this weekend.
“You have to treat this game like any other,” Yurcich said. “If you get caught up in emotion, you become less effective. … I would be disappointed in myself if I took some other approach and got too emotional or thought about anything other than just a faceless opponent.”
While Yurcich used to work with several players on the Oklahoma State team, in the context of this game, he said he’s far more invested in the Cowboys’ tendencies on third down and how Texas could exploit the defense.
Oklahoma State’s defense is elite this year, holding opposing offenses to an average of 12 points through four games. Texas has one of the most high-powered offenses in college football, averaging 45 points per game, but the Cowboys’ defense could still be an issue.
“They’re very, very good on third down, and they’re good in the red zone,” Yurcich said. “They’re good both against the run and the pass. They create a little bit of havoc in the way they align.”
Texas head coach Tom Herman said Monday that the offense hasn’t played consistently throughout the season. Built-up frustration over shaky offensive play will only delay progress, Yurcich said, and the blame doesn’t fall on any one player.
He said senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger will have to be on the same page with his receivers this weekend against such a formidable defense.
“If things aren’t going good, take a deep breath, communicate,” Yurcich said. “Let’s all get on the same page and go back to work. That’s all we can do.”
The Cowboys have talent and experience on offense too. Senior wide receiver Tylan Wallace was a 2018 Biletnikoff Award finalist, and junior running back Chuba Hubbard is a force on the ground.
Defensive coordinator Chris Ash will also have to scheme for Spencer Sanders, Oklahoma State’s redshirt sophomore dual-threat quarterback.
“He’s a very good player,” Ash said in a Wednesday teleconference. “He’s quick, he’s fast, he’s got quick release. He’s really a challenge, and he fits (perfectly) in their offense on what they want to do.”
Junior linebacker Joseph Ossai could play a key role in disrupting Sanders and the Cowboys’ offense. Ossai is one of Texas’ best defensive players, but Ash said he’s still found areas to grow as “an important piece to our puzzle.”
Texas’ defense will look to improve further in the game against Oklahoma State on Saturday. Ash said he knows the staff and players have their work cut out for them, so they’ll all have to perform at their very best.
“There’s nothing simplistic about it,” Ash said. “As offenses in this day and age operate with tempo … it’s a challenge every week.”