Oklahoma State Football: What Mike Yurcich Hire Means for the Running Game

Ricky FrechCorrespondent IFebruary 14, 2013

DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 01:  Jeremy Smith #31 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys celebrates a touchdown against the Purdue Boilermakers during the Heart of Dallas Bowl at Cotton Bowl on January 1, 2013 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Oklahoma State Cowboys hiring of offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich was a little surprising, given his lack of high-level experience, but it looks as if his offense will mesh well with the modified Air Raid scheme head coach Mike Gundy likes to run.

In fact, Yurcich's Shippensburg University offense featured the Division II Harlon Hill Trophy (think the Heisman) winner and was the leader in total yards during the 2012 season.

Just look at the numbers. Yurcich's offense had 529.92 yards per game, while his quarterback, Zach Zulli—the previously mentioned Harlon Hill winner—threw for 4,747 yards and 54 touchdowns.

Imagine what this guy is going to do with a football bowl sub-divison quarterback.

Obviously the defenses are going to be much better in the Big 12 and Division I in general, but this is an exciting time to be a player in the Cowboys' passing game.

The same might not be true for Oklahoma State's running backs.

With the loss of Joseph Randle to the NFL, the running back position was always going to be something of a question mark heading into the 2013 season.

That said, Jeremy Smith looked like a solid candidate to have a breakout season, as long as he can stay healthy.

However, with the hire of an offensive coordinator who obviously likes to throw the ball all day, will Smith get enough carries to put up Randle-like numbers?

That's hard to say. Yurcich's leading rusher of 2012, Mike Frenette, was only able to get 160 carries last season, which is 114 less than Joseph Randle got last year.

However, Frenette isn't anywhere near the rusher Smith is, so maybe Yurcich will feature the running game more heavily at Oklahoma State than he did at Shippensburg.

One thing to note is that Shippensburg quarterback Zach Zulli added 100 rushes of his own, so it's possible that Frenette's numbers are just low because he was playing with such a talented quarterback.

Regardless of what Yurcich did in the past, he has to get Jeremy Smith somewhere in the neighborhood of 200–250 carries.

When healthy, Smith is an absolute beast and deserves a chance to prove himself with starter's carries.

If you take his 2012 averages and extrapolate them over the number of carries Joseph Randle had last year, you get numbers that would place Smith among the best running backs in the nation.

In that scenario, which assumes that Smith keeps up his averages while rushing the ball 274 times, you get 1,452 yards, along with 31 touchdowns.

The touchdown numbers might be a little skewed because of the number of times Smith gets goal line touchdowns, but the overall numbers are still impressive.

Obviously, you have to take those stats with a grain of salt given that it's all just going off averages.

That said, you can't deny that Smith has real talent and we need to see what he can do with starter's minutes.

Personally, I think Yurcich has to find a way to get Smith plenty of carries if he wants to keep up Oklahoma State's streak of being one of the most deadly offenses in the NCAA.

It's very hard to not see that happening, but it's something to pay attention to in the season's early weeks as we begin to see how Yurcich's version of the Oklahoma State Cowboys' offense works.