Change arrives as Cowboys begin spring

March, 10, 2010
3/10/10
8:42
AM ET
STILLWATER, Okla. -- The storm clouds that delayed the opening of Oklahoma State's spring practice on Monday rolled out as Dana Holgorsen's offense rolled in on Tuesday. With it came a new-look Cowboy offensive attack that had everyone in Stillwater trying to adjust.

"It was different. I’m not exactly sure what I did, or what I accomplished out there, but I’m learning," said Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy.

Holgorsen will take over play-calling duties from Gundy, who still has the final say for play calls, but for Gundy, that meant he has time to spend half his practice watching the defense, a luxury he hadn't enjoyed in his first five seasons.

[+] EnlargeHunter
Paul Jasienski/US PresswireKendall Hunter may see a different distribution of his touches this season.
Gundy said one practice wasn't nearly enough to identify more than the most obvious differences between his offense and Holgorsen's.

"It’s fast-paced, very similar to what we have been the past few years here," Gundy said. "There’s some variety to the ways the running backs can touch the football, which I think is good for us."

Gundy said he envisioned running back Kendall Hunter touching the ball 250 times as a senior. As a sophomore, Hunter led the Big 12 with 1,555 yards and 16 touchdowns on 241 carries and added 198 yards on 22 catches. That's a total of 263 touches.

This season, the difference will come in the distribution of those touches.

"He may have 150 or 160 rushes, and maybe it's more catches," Gundy said.

Gundy also added that the system could provide opportunities for young players who couldn't find opportunities in the previous scheme. Among those who could benefit: 5-foor-10, 170-pound sophomore inside receiver Isaiah Anderson and sophomore running back Travis Miller.

The quarterbacks went through adjustments of their own, running through new drills and new exercises in the new offense. Brandon Weeden is the likely starter ahead of a pair of freshmen, Johnny Deaton and Clint Chelf.

"[Deaton's] head was spinning, which most kids, their head is going to spin," Holgorsen said. "Weeden’s head was spinning a little at times, too, as mature as he is. But you could tell that kids had never been put in that situation before; that’s natural. It happens everywhere."

Tuesday was my first opportunity to meet Holgorsen, a branch of the Mike Leach coaching tree who spent the past two seasons at Houston. Holgorsen's laid-back demeanor likely meshed well with Leach during their eight seasons together, and I sense Holgorsen's quirky quotability was only enhanced as a member of Leach's staff. I should note I didn't see any pirate memorabilia during my visit to the Oklahoma State facilities.

Said Holgorsen, who has yet to formally move to Stillwater: "I'm enjoying [my hotel in Stillwater] right now. I got me a nice, big king bedroom suite and they make my bed for me every day, wash the towels on the floor. What more can you ask for?"

How about a season opener that's not akin to "doing surgery with a chainsaw instead of a scalpel," to quote Holgorsen's former boss.

But last year, his Cougar offense averaged 58 more yards per game than college football's second best. Keep that pace, and Holgorsen can keep his license to be as quirky as he wants.

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