Gundy Compliments Contributions from Analysts, Looks Ahead to Longhorn Defense

Robert Allen

STILLWATER -- A lot is being made of Mike Yurcich being the offensive coordinator for Texas and his return this Saturday to Stillwater and Boone Pickens Stadium. However, Yurcich is just one of the new coordinators for Tom Herman as Chris Ash is the Longhorns defensive coordinator. Another former Ohio State guy that has been the defensive coordinator for the Buckeyes, Wisconsin, and Arkansas as well as head coach at Rutgers. Ash has an excellent pedigree and reputation. So far, his Texas defense is averaging giving up 32.2 points and 383.4-yards a game (130.4-yards rushing and 253-yards through the air).

Ash is almost exclusively four-man front and heavy zone in coverage, more two deep zone.

"They're a 4-2-5 defense and they are four press on the perimeter, quite a bit of zone and more of a traditional style of play" Gundy started. "They are going to challenge your receivers. From what I'm seeing, that is their scheme there at Texas on defense this year with Chris Ash there."

Gundy and his assistants get a head start every Sunday when they wrap up on the previous opponent and turn the page to the next challenge on the schedule. You've heard of analysts, a big part of Division I programs. Gundy has some younger analysts on staff that work in special teams and recruiting. The analysts that start on the next opponent first are former Oklahoma head coach and Power Five and NFL defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs, former college head coach and Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Bill Clay, and longtime Power Five defensive coordinator and a bowl winner as an interim head coach in Chris Thurman, one of the few coaches to be at Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and his alma mater in Tulsa.

"Those guys are a big part of our team, the senior citizens club, as I call them," Gundy joked about his senior analysts. "They get and give great information to me. When you have guys like Gary Gibbs, Bill, Clay and Chris Thurman, those guys have 40-years or more of experience. They've been coordinators, head coaches and they've been in big programs where you have to fight each day to survive. Some of them have NFL experience. They've been around young people all of their life. They have invaluable information for me as a head coach."

Gary Gibbs
Former OU head coach Gary Gibbs has been a defensive coordinator for USC, Georgia, and LSU as well as coaching at three stops in the NFL.Kansas City Chiefs football club

Between those three, they have coached at Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, USC, and in the NFL, Gibbs has been with the New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys, and Kansas City Chiefs. 

Gibbs, who has had some health issues recently, does his work by home and through computer. Clay and Thurman are on site and at practice taking notes and having face to face contact with the current staff. 

PK5_7257A (1)
Chris Thurman, who has coached at Texas A&M, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Kentucky among others eyeballs an Oklahoma State practice.Pat Kinnison - Pokes Report chief photographer

If you know your coaching backgrounds, all three of those coaches are defensive coordinators by trade. Gibbs and Clay work almost exclusively feeding information to Gundy and defensive coordinator Jim Knowles. Thurman is now working for the other side with a different angle, one I think can be highly valuable. Thurman tells Gundy and offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn, how he thinks a defense might react and adjust to what they game plan for Saturday. Then when the chess game of in-game adjustments begins, the Cowboys can be a move or two ahead.

Bill Clay
Bill Clay was once the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma State and is back as an analyst.Tulsa World

All of the analysts are not afraid to give Gundy their opinions on non football situations with the team. Between that trio, they have seen it all. You could call it Gundy's council of elders.

"Once you get to the point where they're at, you don't have any egos," Gundy added. "They are just here to make Oklahoma State football better. I lean heavily on them for information on the feel and the attitude of our team on the field and in practice and how I communicate with them week to week. Those guys are a tremendous resource for me in a lot of ways. What you are talking about is X's and O's. For both sides of the ball they are excellent and you can't have enough guys like that. The difference is at their age, again, they don't have any ego and they are just about football and contributing to our team."

Having a head start is awesome. Having some old souls that aren't afraid to speak up and aren't concerned about backlash or reaction, that can be valuable as well. As Oklahoma State fans are seeing with the players on defense this season, talent is needed, but experience is really special too. Gibbs, Clay, and Thurman have lots of that.

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Comments (3)
No. 1-2

I'm glad we have the budget for analysts like them, and that we haven't lost too much during the budget downturn due to COVID


I have wondered before about the use of defensive coaches to help in consultation with our offense and for that matter, visa versa. Good article Robert, thanks. PS/FYI, have others noted that quite often, the Community Board doesn't allow new subjects/posts? I use an Android phone if that matters.

1 Reply

Kansas cowboy
Kansas cowboy

Me too on everthing