By Nick Snow
CNHI News Service
STILLWATER — Oklahoma State University defensive coordinator Bill Young could be considered the Cal Ripken Jr. of coaches. In 44 years, Young could not recall missing a single game until he missed Oklahoma State’s first two games of the season due to undisclosed medical conditions.
And after Oklahoma State’s loss to Arizona, he has no intention of missing any more throughout the rest of his career.
“It was difficult, no question about it,” Young said. “I would have loved to have the opportunity to be there. It is a lot easier being in the game than listening to it. It wouldn’t have been any different if I had been there, but it would have been a lot easier for me had I been there. I kind of knew what the calls were and visualized what was taking place.
“There’s really not much you can do. I’m just like the other fans at that point in time. I’m just wishing for the best.”
Young’s absence may not have been as noticeable in the 84-0 walloping of Savannah State University, but it was certainly noticeable in Tucson.
The Cowboys didn’t force a single turnover and were flagged for several personal fouls on the defensive line — two points Young will repeatedly drive home in practice.
“Our defense and our team is a family, and whenever you don’t have a family member or a coach or a player there, it hurts,” Oklahoma State senior defensive end Cooper Bassett said. “He’s our lead guy and it hurt not having him there. I know as a defensive lineman especially, it hurt not having our coach there.”
“No question, (turnovers are) going to be a huge point of emphasis and it was Sunday night,” Young said “That’s one of the first things we talked to our defense about.”
There is good news for the Cowboy faithful. Young has been medically cleared to coach in Saturday’s game against Louisiana-Lafayette.
Young did have a small hand in the team’s preparation for Arizona, discussing game strategy with co-defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer and checking in on team meetings throughout the week.
But with Young back on the sidelines full-time, the Cowboys are expecting things to run a little bit smoother.
“It’s always good to have him back,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “He’s got 40 years of experience... When you’re short a coach that’s had a lot of experience and you’re short a guy that’s been there and called the plays, it’s good to get him back.
“Any time you’re down a coach in preparation, especially in game day when you only have a minute and a half to three minutes to make adjustments on the sidelines, the more guys that see what’s happening, the more guys that can communicate and get to the players, look them in the eye and get information to them and get them back on the field is an advantage.”
Young’s 44-year streak may have ended with the first game of the season, but now the Cowboys’ coach is back and ready to correct some of the mistakes Oklahoma State made on defense.
“One thing with (Arizona quarterback Matt) Scott is he pump faked us off our feet and we jumped up in the air like we were hung out on a clothes line,” Young said. “We can’t let that happen. We coach them about not leaving the ground until the ball leaves his hand. That’s something we’ve got to get back to and we’ll encourage our scout-team quarterback to do to try to get us to jump.”
Young may bring a little fire and discipline to the team, but it will also help ease the nerves of the players to have him on the sidelines.
“It always feels good when you have your leader back,” Oklahoma State junior safety Shamiel Gary said. “We just feel more comfortable knowing that he’s there helping us and guiding us through those tough times.”
“I know my wife is ready for me to get back out there,” Young said. “She probably is about sick of me after these last two weeks. But in all seriousness, I’m anxious to get back out there. I had no symptoms going into this procedure. I have no symptoms coming out. It’s no different I am today than I was three weeks ago. I just had some tremendous doctors.”
By Nick Snow
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