Sean Gleeson is looking to do something that is unprecedented as an offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State.
I’m not talking about the move from lower-level playcaller to the Big 12. That’s actually fairly worn territory with his predecessor, Mike Yurcich, being called up from Division II school Shippensburg University.
Gleeson, who hails from FCS school Princeton, looks to make that leap while potentially breaking in a quarterback with zero experience (Spencer Sanders) or one with virtually no in-game experience at OSU (Dru Brown).
In that regard, he stands alone among Cowboy OCs in recent history.
Mike Yurcich took the reins of the offense with an offseason QB battle, but Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh combined for 3,100 yards and 28 touchdowns the year before. Not exactly the type of clean slate Gleeson is faced with.
Dana Holgorsen started off his one year in Stillwater with Brandon Weeden, who had played in three games the year before. But most had seen enough of the former pro baseball player to feel confident in his abilities. A year later, Todd Monken was handed the keys to an orange Ferrari.
Gunter Brewer’s headset may have had a mute button with a trigger-happy Mike Gundy on the other end, but he still had the headset. And when he first donned it, he had an established starter in Zac Robinson as well as returning playmakers like Dez Bryant, Kendall Hunter, Keith Toston and Brandon Pettigrew.
When Larry Fedora took over the coordinator role from newly hired head coach Mike Gundy, he had Donovan Woods, the previous year’s starter. Although Woods only played quarterback the first two weeks before completely giving way to the Al Penda/Bobby Reid show. But Pena had experience in five games (but no starts) the year before.
Mike Gundy had Aso Pogi. Del Miller had a returning Tony Lindsay the year before as did Ron Calcagni in 1998 when he took over. Les Miles had a returning Tone Jones in 1995, as did Gundy in his first stint in ’94.
So dating all the way back to the Pat Jones era, no incoming Oklahoma State OC has begun his first season without returning experience at QB, until now.
(Dru Brown does have multiple years of starting experience at the Div. I level, but Hawaii is not OSU and the Mountain West ≠ the Big 12. And one snap in the Liberty Bowl.)
It will be interesting to see how that lack of experience at this level affects the start of his tenure at Oklahoma State and frames how we view this upcoming season. So much of a playcaller’s success is dependent upon who is taking snaps.
That’s not to say that his cupboard is dry by any means. He’s got the third-highest rated QB prospect in school history and Mr. Texas Everything in Spencer Sanders and Brown has been in the program long enough to illicit Corndog-sized confidence from his head coach.
Add in sought-after three-star Brendan Costello and Gleeson’s own guy Shane Trillingworth coming next year, and there’s plenty of reason for optimism at passer for the foreseeable future, provided that he can develop them and keep all of them in the fold.
It’s just an added challenge for a brand new coordinator taking a big step up in terms of talent and expectations on the field.
Gleeson Brings a Fire
Chuba Hubbard figures to be a big part of whatever success Gleeson enjoys next year. After the spring game, he talked with PFB about their budding relationship and what Gleeson brings to OSU.
“We talk all the time,” said Hubbard. “Every time I see him, we just chat. He has a fire in him, and I like that about him. He wants to get us going and never let us be mediocre. Yeah, I like that about him.”
During the spring, veteran wideout Dillon Stoner called Gleeson a “high-energy guy.” And that was one of the first things Hubbard noticed about him.
“Just get in your face, yelling,” said Hubbard. “Whenever you do something bad, he’s going to let you know, and he’s never going to let you play under your limit so I like that.”
But Mike Gundy chose Gleeson for more than just his youth and energy.
“He is a very detailed guy,” Gundy said of Gleeson. “He is a young guy that is very cerebral and technology sound, so from a standpoint he is different from the other guys in that area. There are a lot of ways to get the job done, but he is going to have very much attention to detail.”
Ultimately Gleeson’s inaugural season will be graded by the numbers his offense puts up and its success on the scoreboard. Even during down years, like last season, the Pokes’ offense is among the best in the country at putting up points.
That’s a high bar for any OC eyeing his first game at the FBS level, especially one without an established quarterback to depend on.