Bill Young's absence from the Oklahoma State sideline went relatively unnoticed in last week's 84-0 blasting of Savannah State but one week later it was glaring.
Oklahoma State's defensive coordinator couldn't even watch the Cowboys' surprising 59-38 collapse against Arizona out in the desert, but what he heard on the radio back in Stillwater was unsettling.
"It was difficult, and I would have loved to have the opportunity to be there. It is a lot easier being in the game than listening to it," Young said. "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."
Young might be being too modest. It's hard to imagine the 44-year coaching veteran wouldn't have been able to impact the Cowboys' porous defensive performance or influence the lack of discipline put on display.
But the good news for the Cowboys is that he's finally back.
Young said at Monday's OSU Media Luncheon that he expects to be back full time after missing the first two games of the season following an undisclosed medical procedure. He has been cleared to return to practices this week.
Oklahoma State defensive end Cooper Bassett said even though Young had been attending team meetings, it just wasn't the same without him at practice or on the sideline.
"It hurts whenever you're missing anybody. We're a team, and we're a family," Bassett said. "When any one of your key people isn't there, it hurts, and he's the main guy."
But even though Young wasn't on the Cowboy bench in Tucson, Bassett said people shouldn't point to that as a reason for the poor play by the defense, which gave up its most points in a game since 2008.
"That's no excuse. If anything, we should have rallied around and won it for coach Young," he said. "This week, we're glad to have him back. We hope we can focus, get back to the basics and get a win with coach Young back on the sidelines."
It is an uplifting occurrence for a team in need of one.
"I am glad he's back," co-defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said. "We talked every day last week, and he actually came by a lot last week, too. It's not like he's been gone. It will be nice to get him out on the field again."
And it's a good time for him to make a full return. The Pokes were gashed by Arizona's zone-read attack and are now tasked in facing a Louisiana-Lafayette squad that thrives on the zone read in a two-quarterback system.
"The two quarterbacks are very similar. One of them is left-handed and the other is right-handed. They are very athletic and have similar size," Young said. "They have good speed, and they run the option, the zone read, some quarterback counters and some zone lead keepers with lead blockers. It is a scheme that could give us some problems so we will work hard on it."
Oklahoma State hosts the Ragin' Cajuns at 11 a.m. on Saturday. ULL is 2-0 on the season with wins against Lamar (40-0) and Troy (37-24). The Cajuns are 11-3 since losing last year's season opener to OSU in Stillwater.