Cowboys hope Young imitates Muschamp

By John Hillman  |   Monday, January 26, 2009  |  Comments( 1 )

Oklahoma State Cowboys
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Defense holds the key to Oklahoma State’s future success. Under Mike Gundy, the Cowboys have lit up the scoreboard, but they couldn’t stop good offensive teams when it counted.

OSU hopes to reverse that trend with its hire of Bill Young as defensive coordinator. If the 62-year-old veteran assistant, who spent last year at Miami, emulates the transformation Will Muschamp performed at Texas, the Cowboys will have pulled a coaching coup.

In his first season at UT, Muschamp didn’t leapfrog the Longhorns in the NCAA’s defensive standings. Last year, Texas moved up just one spot under the former Auburn assistant, going from 52nd in 2007 to 51st. However, an analysis of the defensive numbers proves Muschamp’s tremendous contributions to the team's 12-1 record.

In 2007, the Longhorns allowed an average of 25.3 points per game. That number fell by almost a touchdown last season to 18.6.

Under Muschamp, now the heir apparent to head coach Mack Brown, the Horns stopped their opponents with greater frequency. Two years ago, UT permitted 942 offensive plays but limited its foes to only 783 snaps in 2008. Other substantial defensive drops from 2007 to 2008 included yards allowed (4,825 to 4,079), first downs (329 to 218), pass attempts (517 to 466) and pass completions (314 to 266).

Young brings a resume to Oklahoma State indicating he can generate similar results. The former linebacker and defensive end for the Cowboys (1965-67) has coached at nine colleges over the past 39 years.

He spent 22 campaigns as a defensive coordinator including stops at Ohio State, Oklahoma, USC and Kansas. In 2007, his Jayhawk squad, which finished 12-1 including an Orange Bowl victory, ranked 12th nationally in total defense.

Young pledges to keep the Cowboy defense simple, attacking and aggressive. His coaching philosophy focuses not just on stopping an opponent but also on generating turnovers and points. His past teams have been characterized as hard-nosed and no-nonsense with a heavy reliance on the zone blitz.

“You have to play physical defense,” he stated. “You’ve got to knock people down and knock them back, stalemate and escape blocks, go chase the football and get there in bad humor. That’s what defense is all about.”

Oklahoma State can certainly utilize Young’s methods. Over the past two seasons, the Cowboys ranked 93rd and 101st among the BCS schools in total defense. In 2008, OSU gave up 406 offensive yards per game and allowed 443 per game in 2007.

But OSU’s replacement for Tim Beckman, who left Stillwater to become Toledo’s head coach, views the past as just the past. He intends to work first on player attitudes and then develop their defensive skills and techniques.

“We’ve got to stop talking about how bad we are and start talking about how good we’re going to be,” Young said. “That’s a mindset that we’ve got to get going quickly.”

Published stories first indicated Oklahoma State would pay $700,000 annually for Young’s services. But the Tulsa World later reported OSU’s latest defensive coordinator would receive a salary of $315,000, making him the second-highest-paid Cowboy assistant.

If Young approaches Muschamp’s success at Oklahoma State, the Cowboys have landed a bargain. Texas paid its defensive coordinator $450,000 to move from Auburn and boosted his compensation to $900,000 last November.
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About John Hillman

John Hillman graduated from Baylor University in 1974 with a BBA in accounting and earned an MBA from Baylor in 1987. He worked for accounting firms until 1982 when he became the chief financial officer for an independent insurance claims adjusting service, a position he still holds today....
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