Phoenix wire report
STILLWATER – Oklahoma State’s players certainly appreciate that the media thinks highly enough of the Cowboys to pick them to win the Big 12 Conference this season.
But they don’t want to buy into the hype, especially after an 8-5 season in which Oklahoma State started three different quarterbacks and settled for a trip to the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
Coach Mike Gundy said preseason expectations are often based on who’s returning at quarterback, and that remains a tightly guarded secret in Stillwater. Oklahoma State must also shore up its defense if it hopes to earn its second Big 12 championship in three years.
“It’s all about what you do once you get on that field, so Aug. 31 and on we’ve got to prove every day, every game, that we’re really No. 1 (in the Big 12),” Oklahoma State wide receiver Josh Stewart said. “And that’s what we plan on doing.”
Gundy has been tight-lipped about his quarterback situation this fall up until last week’s revelation that both senior Clint Chelf and sophomore J.W. Walsh will play. Both quarterbacks started at least three games last season.
Seeing both Chelf and Walsh on the field during a game isn’t anything new.
Oklahoma State utilized both quarterbacks during the final few games of last year’s schedule. While Chelf got the starting nod the final five games – leading the Cowboys to a 3-2 record and a Heart of Dallas Bowl win over Purdue – Walsh was brought in for short-yardage and red zone packages.
“It’s going to be hard for me to predict reps, but I don’t feel like either one of them will be a backup in the first game,” the OSU coach said.
Gundy has been an opponent of a two-quarterback system in the past, but has been singing a slightly different tune due to the team’s current situation.
“I don’t like two-quarterback systems if we have one that’s better than the other, one that’s more experienced,” Gundy said. “Each year is different. Now we have two quarterbacks who have relatively the same amount of experience. So we’re obligated to give both of them an opportunity to play in the game. We feel like they can each provide something for the team to give us a chance to be successful this year.”
Oklahoma State’s players should have worn name tags in the spring to make things easier for all the new assistant coaches on Gundy’s staff. Gundy had to hire four new assistants, including both of his coordinators. Gundy caught many by surprise when he hired Mike Yurcich from Division II Shippensburg to run his high-powered offense. Yurcich had proven that he could generate points and his stock will rise even more if Oklahoma State can again lead the Big 12 in scoring offense. “I think he’s very comfortable with our system now, and I see him being much more aggressive in practice and it seems to be going very well at this time,” Gundy said.