Monken cramming to learn Oklahoma State's offense

Updated: March 7, 2011, 8:45 PM ET
Associated Press

STILLWATER, Okla. -- Todd Monken's first days as the new offensive coordinator have been filled not with teaching but with learning.

Monken left his job as an assistant with the Jacksonville Jaguars last month to replace Dana Holgorsen, and he's learning Holgorsen's offense on the fly instead of bringing in his own scheme from the NFL. The Cowboys opened spring practice Monday and will continue through their final scrimmage on April 16.

"Basically in three weeks, you're cramming for a test," said Monken, who had been the Jaguars' receivers coach the past four seasons. "Not only are you now coaching quarterbacks, you are learning a new offense and you're running the offensive meeting.

"But it's been great. It's been unbelievable."

Oklahoma State ranked third in the nation with 520.2 yards and 44.2 points per game last season, winning a share of the Big 12 South title for the first time and finishing 13th in The Associated Press poll.

Nine offensive starters are returning, including All-American receiver Justin Blackmon and all-Big 12 quarterback Brandon Weeden.

"Are you kidding me? I get to drive a Ferrari. I've had Yugos before, for God's sakes," Monken said. "It's fun. It's exciting. You rarely get a chance to go learn another offense and go get to run it. How cool is that?

"Really, it would have been easier to take what we did at Jacksonville and then go run that but this has been really fun and it's been fun because they're having to carry me."

On the first day, Weeden said 99.9 percent of the offense was the same as what Holgorsen was running before he left to become West Virginia's offensive coordinator and head coach-in-waiting. The only change was a tweak with the receivers on certain pass plays.

"It was just a little subtle deal with a couple receivers, that's all it was. Other than that, the signals are the same, the terminology at the line is the same," Weeden said. "Everything's the exact same."

After just one season as the starter, Weeden found himself frequently giving Monken information about how the offense worked instead of being the one learning -- as he was when Holgorsen took over prior to spring workouts last season.

"A year ago this day, my head was spinning so fast I couldn't even see straight," Weeden said. "So, it's amazing what a year will do and having guys around that will really help you."

Weeden, a 27-year-old former minor league baseball player, set school records with 4,277 yards passing and 34 touchdowns last season, his first as a starter.

"It's so easy because the guy's like a 38-year-old," Monken said. "The guy's been around for a while and it's like dealing with an NFL guy. It's not the information that he has, it's how he's able to communicate with you. He has an air about him, a confidence to where he'll ask a question that a young guy won't and he'll tell you that he doesn't like it, like a young guy won't.

"They'll just sit there and say, `Yes, coach,' and just nod their head."

Monken was one of three new offensive assistant coaches hired after receivers coach Gunter Brewer took a job at Mississippi and running backs coach Robert Gillespie followed Holgorsen to West Virginia. Kasey Dunn is the new wide receivers coach and Jemal Singleton took over the running backs.

"I'm very comfortable with where we're at on offense and where coach Monken's at. He's had an opportunity to be up here in the evenings and spend quality time with Brandon and the other quarterbacks," head coach Mike Gundy said.

At this point, Monken said the offense has the same tempo and formations as last season but he'll put his own stamp on it over the next six months.

"We want to keep what we can and yet we still have to be able to coach it. You can't just take something and then you don't like it but because he did it, you just call it," Monken said. "That's ludicrous. It's silly.

"So, you have to make it what you want it to be and have confidence."

The start of practice also marked the return of safety Daytawion Lowe, who missed last season due to injury, and Kye Staley, who had left the team following a serious knee injury. Staley had been a running back and tried to make a comeback at linebacker last season, but is now listed at fullback.


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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