Mike Gundy has a major decision to make about who will be the Oklahoma State Cowboys’ starting quarterback in 2013. I’ve decided to help him out and explain why Clint Chelf should remain the starter.
It has become an annual staple of the Cowboys to have one of the nation’s best offenses. But they took it to a different level this season, using three different quarterbacks who each won multiple games and threw for over 1,000 yards.
It is clear that, no matter who Gundy ultimately chooses, the Cowboys will have a prolific offense yet again next season. Each is a completely different player, but each can also run the Cowboys’ offense proficiently.
Despite how well all three played, Chelf should keep the starting position he played for the latter part of the 2012 season.
Wes Lunt and J.W. Walsh played well during the first half of the 2012 season as the starters, but the offense became much more consistent when Chelf took over after Lunt went down against Kansas State.
The redshirt junior has the most experience by far, and he also had the invaluable opportunity to learn under Brandon Weeden for two years.
On this team, one that is poised to make a conference title run and possibly take the next step in becoming one of the nation’s best college football programs, the safe bet is the best one.
Walsh has been very good for this team, but he is a running quarterback. At the end of the 2009 season, Zac Robinson was beaten and bruised after starting for three years as a running quarterback who powered the Cowboys’ offense. It is no coincidence that Gundy made the offensive change to a more traditional quarterback after that season, and it is unlikely he will change his mind now and make Walsh a full-time starter.
There is also good reason to pump the brakes on making Lunt the starter.
While he is the most talented passer out of the group, it was fairly obvious that he was not ready for this level of football in his first season as a college player. Injuries proved that his body was not ready for the physical toll, and that appeared to result in him getting down on himself.
Lunt is most likely the future of this offense, but he is not ready to assume that mantle yet. So this is what Gundy should do:
Name Chelf your starter for the 2013 season. He is the most dependable, experienced and the coolest under pressure, all of which are extremely valuable attributes for a team with a good shot at winning big next season.
Use Walsh in the same way you did in the latter part of the season. Bring him in situationally as a multi-dimensional quarterback who can offer a change of pace. He should be used particularly in short-yardage situations.
Redshirt Lunt. While this may not seem prudent given how early college players leave for the NFL, it is the best thing for the player and team. Doing this gives the freshman a year to adjust to the game and get his body and mind ready. After that year, allow him to compete for the starting job with Walsh.
Handling the quarterbacks this way is the best way to give the team a chance at retaining all of them.
Chelf gets to start for his last season in college. Walsh is guaranteed playing time and snaps, even if he never wins the starting job from Chelf or Lunt. And Lunt is given the time he needs to mature and develop his current potential into future stardom.
Gundy should make Chelf his starter. He wins games, and he has earned it by working hard for four years in the program.
But most importantly, Gundy should make Chelf the starter because it is the best option for his team.