By Nick Snow
STILLWATER — Oklahoma State redshirt freshman quarterback J.W. Walsh has seen enough football in his life to know just how quickly things can change. He watched it happen on a weekly basis while roaming the sidelines as a youngster in Denton, Texas, where his father was coach.
Perhaps that’s why he was able to adjust so well went true freshman Wes Lunt went down against Louisiana-Lafayette two weeks ago.
Now Walsh is adjusting to a new role for the Cowboys — as the possible starting quarterback when Oklahoma State takes on No. 10 Texas at 6:50 p.m. Saturday in Boone Pickens Stadium.
“You have to try to make it as normal as possible,” Walsh said. “No matter where you are on the depth chart, you’ve got to prepare like every day you’re one play way. If you prepare that way and you prepare like you’re the starter, when you do get a chance you’re prepared and ready to go for the team.”
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said Lunt was expected to practice Thursday, but it’s been Walsh that has seen most of the reps with the first-team offense during the bye week.
Walsh and the Cowboys hope that extra week of practice pays off if Lunt is unable to go.
“He’s been doing fine,” Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Todd Monken said. “He’s been getting all the reps since Wes has been out, so that’s only going to benefit him more regardless of whether or not he is the starting quarterback on Saturday.”
“The last week of practice has been really fun, with being able to get the reps with the first team and being able to form relationships with the starters,” Walsh said. “We look forward to connecting and building on those relationships this week. We’re all looking forward to playing this week.”
But while the biggest question surrounding the Oklahoma State football program this week was whether or not Lunt will play, the second biggest question has to be how will Walsh respond under the bright lights of Boone Pickens Stadium against a ranked opponent.
“He’s a guy that’s able to stay calm throughout,” Monken said. “He’s been in some big games before. He played his high school career in big games, like a lot of Division I quarterbacks. I think that and being a coach’s son should help prepare him for anything.”
It isn’t just Walsh and the rest of the offense that has been left in the dark with Lunt’s injury — it’s also Texas. Even though Walsh is more dangerous with his legs, Gundy said he doesn’t plan on changing the game plan too much.
“They know that we’re going to run our plays,” Gundy said. “We can’t wholesale change based on the quarterback. We would play to J.W.’s strengths if he was in there just like we would with Wes. They are a zone blitz, man pressure team. In the football scheme, that doesn’t vary a lot based on the style of play. They’re different than most teams that play a lot of zone coverage.”
Whether or not Walsh sees the field, just the thought of playing against a team that recruited him out of high school has him ready to strap on the pads.
“Anytime there’s a chance that you’re going to play, you’re going to be excited for it,” Walsh said. “That’s what’s fun about the game is to get in the game, actually play and have fun. ... I’m excited. I know a few players who are on the other team, so it will be pretty cool to go up against them.”
Nick Snow is a sports reporter for The Stillwater NewsPress.
Texas at OSU
7 p.m. Saturday
TV: KOKI/Fox 23