When Washington State begins spring football practices on Thursday, there will be an unfamiliar face on the offensive coaching staff.
But you’ll probably notice his hair first, anyway.
Along with the wavy, blonde shock atop his head, new inside receivers coach David Yost brings years of experience working in spread offenses similar to the one WSU coach Mike Leach operates at WSU.
And if it weren’t for Leach, Yost said he probably wouldn’t be working this season.
His original plan was to take the year off, leaving Missouri following the 2012 season because he was starting to feel the effects of the myriad titles he’d accepted with the Tigers – offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach, recruiting coordinator, foam-finger salesman.
OK, maybe not the last one. But you get the idea. Yost has children aged 2, 4 and 6, and said the grind at Missouri was limiting the time he was able to spend with his family. So he stepped away.
When Leach called, though, he couldn’t resist. At WSU, “it’s on me to make sure I don’t overextend myself,” Yost said.
“Being his eyes up in the (coaching) box is what he was looking for,” said Yost, who replaces former inside receivers coach Eric Morris in that endeavor. “To me, that gave me a spark of, ‘hey, that’s something I’d be interested in,’ ” and something that wouldn’t require him to spend all his days and nights in the office.
Besides, he’s long admired Leach’s offensive acumen from a semi-distance, coaching against Leach’s Texas Tech teams in the Big 12, all while helping facilitate some of the best offensive seasons in Missouri history under coach Gary Pinkel.
“I’m kind of really interested in learning (Leach’s) approach to it and why does he look at this play this way,” Yost said. “We discuss those things and he likes to kind of hear different approaches and things.”
Because a handful of the Cougars’ assistant coaches have children around the same age as Yost’s, it’s not uncommon for coaches to work in the morning, go home to have lunch with their kids, return to the office and head back home in time for dinner before resuming coaching duties at night.
Those duties involve a lot of film cut-ups, and collaboration between Leach and Yost about different offensive sets and how best to read defenses within them. Looking at last year’s film, Yost said, won’t just benefit his own approach as he evaluates and teaches a new group of players. It’ll help the players just as much.
“There’s a lot of things we can get better at,” Yost said. “The second year running the system and having a year where they get to watch themselves now and learn from the mistakes … last year at this time they were probably watching Texas Tech video.
“The positive is in the offense, there’s no drastic changes from last year to this year. There’s not a whole bunch of new learning for all the kids. We call (a play) 92, it’s still 92 to them.”
Yost said Rickey Galvin, who broke his arm in WSU’s third game of last season, is healthy and ready to compete with sophomore Brett Bartolone and redshirt junior Bobby Ratliff for the top inside receiver spots.
“I know some of the guys have played; those guys are going to be at the top of the depth chart when we start off.” Yost said. “It’ll be interesting to see how the younger guys progress and put pressure on them. We have a lot of experience at the inside spot who have played.”
Leach said he imagines Yost will end up working with the quarterbacks at least a little bit, if only because of the inherent crossover involved in coaching receivers.
Because of his past experience working with quarterbacks – the most notable of whom may have been Chase Daniel, a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2007, plus current Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert – Yost’s demeanor might contrast that of many coaches on WSU’s staff.
“I’m more quiet, but that’s probably from coaching quarterbacks my whole career,” Yost said. “I’m not a screamer and exploding kind of guy. For certain things – lack of effort, mental errors – those things kind of bring it out of you a little more.”
If Yost can get his players to match his own reputed work ethic, that won’t be a problem.