MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

OSU

November 15, 2012

Summer rewound for OSU quarterbacks

STILLWATER — Most teams dream of having the depth to go three deep at quarterback. For Oklahoma State’s coaches, those dreams are more of a nightmare.

A process that took nearly the entire summer to separate true freshman Wes Lunt from redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh and junior Clint Chelf has once again been blurred with Chelf’s success last week against West Virginia.

“It gets blurred based on the three of them having success,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “Clint Chelf has been in for five and a half quarters and his experience has been evident in that he makes fewer mistakes than the other guys. Blurred is probably a good description of Clint playing better than we would have anticipated, or at that point he wouldn’t have been third-team. I don’t know any other way to put it. We’ve been wrong before in situations. ... It’s not an easy task for us, but I’d rather be in this situation than looking for a guy to go out there and make a play.”

Making the play hasn’t been a problem for the quarterbacks this season. It’s figuring out the order in the depth chart that has the coaches agonizing over which one should start Saturday against Texas Tech.

“Oh yeah, it’s hard,” Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Todd Monken said. “It was hard in the spring. You have to have a pecking order. You know, there’s no where to go. Usually quarterbacks don’t play special teams and you usually don’t rotate quarterbacks so there’s no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. There’s no partial playing most of the time. It’s either I’m playing or I’m not playing. That’s difficult to get their arms around, but at least they each have been able to see it a little bit — see the other guys play well.”

Chelf appears to have the hot hand for the Pokes after completing 22 of 31 passes for 292 yards and four touchdowns. But Monken was quick to point out that it doesn’t necessarily mean the junior from Enid will be starting when the Cowboys take the field Saturday.

“We’ll have to look at it and decide who gives us the best chance to win,” Monken said. “They were all available the other night, but available and medically cleared is different from being able to function, practice, be accurate with your throws and give us a chance to win. They’ll all be cleared this week, so we’ll just go from there. We have three guys who are capable of winning, so we’ll just assess it as the week goes.”

After nearly nine months of trying to separate the three quarterbacks, the Cowboys are once again back to Square One. Except this time, it’s some unexpected circumstances and some surprising play out of the backups that have Oklahoma State’s coaches questioning which of the three should get the nod.

“We’re not really sure right now,” Gundy said. “For me to give you any other answer would be unfair. We haven’t been in a situation like this. We hope that we have three healthy players on Saturday. There’s a chance that could happen, but we won’t know for sure until late in the week. There are still discussions taking place. The only answer I have is that we’re going to play the guy who we feel like gives us the best chance to win Saturday and have success. ... There will be at least one guy, maybe two guys depending on where we are from a health standpoint, who won’t be happy with the decision that’s made — that’s the competitive nature of an athlete. As coaches, we have to make tough decisions and that’s what we’ll do on Thursday.”

Whether or not Chelf will get his second start as Oklahoma State’s quarterback remains to be seen. One thing is certain, he won’t go down without a fight.

“Dating all the way back to winter conditioning competitions, we were on the same team and we won the whole thing,” Oklahoma State junior running back Joseph Randle said. “I always thought he was a good player and I knew he had a lot of experience. You can’t really trade anything for experience. I never have any doubt that he’s going to give it everything he has when he’s on the field.”

Nick Snow is a sports reporter for the Stillwater NewsPress.

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