What Does Oklahoma State Do Now at QB?

Ben KerchevalCollege Football Lead WriterOctober 22, 2013

Sep 14, 2013; Stillwater, OK, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy during practice before the game against the Lamar Cardinals at Boone Pickens Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Rowe-USA TODAY Sports
Richard Rowe-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma State won eight games a year ago with three different quarterbacks, but the real mark of success was that Clint Chelf, Wes Lunt and J.W. Walsh combined to throw for almost 4,300 yards. 

Things are a bit backwards this time around.

The Cowboys are 5-1 and very much in the Big 12 title hunt. But it's the quarterback play that could keep Oklahoma State from achieving that goal. 

Walsh has been the starter since Week 2, but a pair of first-half interceptions in a 24-10 win over TCU in Week 8 led to season-opening starter Clint Chelf to finish out the game. (Lunt, who began the 2012 season as the starting quarterback, transferred to Illinois in the offseason.)

Oct 19, 2013; Stillwater, OK, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys quarterback J.W. Walsh (4) drops back to pass against the Texas Christian Horned Frogs during the first half at Boone Pickens Stadium. Oklahoma State won 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Now, head coach Mike Gundy and first-year offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich are starting over. Which quarterback starts—or plays at all—on Saturday against Iowa State is unknown. What is clear, though, is that Chelf and Walsh have regressed from a year ago. Neither quarterback completed over 50 percent of their passes, but instead combined for three interceptions against the Horned Frogs. 

And Gundy's not providing any clues as to how the situation is going to shake out. 

"You just have to see how it goes," said Gundy, via Scout.com. 

Gundy announced before the season that both quarterbacks would play in Week 1 against Mississippi State. Could Oklahoma State return to that philosophy? Yurcich didn't necessarily rule it out. 

"I think it gives you some flexibility and I think what helps is that they are two unselfish individuals, so whenever you get that I think that is very beneficial," Yurcich said via Scout.com. 

Whoever has the better week in practice will likely start against the Cyclones, but don't rule out the possibility of both quarterbacks seeing playing time. Normally, it would be wise to go with the player who has the hot hand, but both players have been ice cold lately. 

Gundy shifted some of the blame to the offensive line and running backs during the Big 12 coaches teleconference Monday. "We've been average up front blocking. ... We haven't had running backs make players miss," he said. 

Those problems hinder offensive production, undoubtedly. Even though Oklahoma State relies more heavily on its passing game, Walsh is a more gifted runner. And the running game hasn't taken off. Not surprisingly, then, Walsh has been streaky in the passing game. 

With no rhythm on offense to speak of, Gundy wouldn't be doing too much damage by playing both quarterbacks against Iowa State—at least until Chelf or Walsh finds their groove. 

When that will be, however, remains to be seen. 


Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. All quotes obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval