John Klein: OSU does not have a clear-cut answer yet to replace Brandon Weeden
BY JOHN KLEIN Senior Sports Columnist
Sunday, April 22, 2012
4/22/12 at 6:17 AM
Go to John Klein's Blog
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Original Print Headline: No clear-cut answer yet to replace Weeden
STILLWATER - Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy faces a quarterback quandary.
Three quarterbacks had their moments, including some eye-popping passes, during Saturday's OSU spring game at Boone Pickens Stadium that did little or nothing to clear up what has been a to-the-wire race to be the starting quarterback.
The OSU spring game seemed to follow a familiar script. Just like they did throughout spring drills, all three quarterbacks did a few great and a few not so great things.
All three would appear to be capable of big things but none, as expected, looked like Brandon Weeden in the spring game.
There was nothing in the spring game to clear up what has apparently been a very even battle all spring to become the starting quarterback for the Cowboys.
J.W. Walsh, Wes Lunt and Clint Chelf all appeared to be capable of being a starting quarterback on an upper-level Big 12 Conference team.
All three also made a few mistakes in a spring game that showed OSU is likely to still have plenty of offense next fall to make a run at defending its Big 12 championship.
"Each quarterback showed signs of being good enough to start next year," said OSU coach Mike Gundy. "We also saw some deficiencies."
That has been the norm all spring.
There doesn't appear to be any disappointment in the three possibilities at quarterback. If anything, the high-level play of Lunt, an incoming freshman, forced the quarterback derby into a three-way race.
You can tell, Gundy likes what he has - whoever that may be.
"We'll come up with a plan for him to get the ball in the hands of guys who can make plays," said Gundy.
We'll know on Wednesday after Gundy and his offensive coaches meet.
"If it was obvious, we would have already done it," said OSU offensive coordinator Todd Monken. "If it was that simple, it would be done."
It is not obvious and it is not simple. All three played at a high enough level that Gundy believes any could win at the Big 12 level.
Picking the best possible choice to fit into a loaded offense, with quality running backs, solid line and good receivers, is not so simple.
"Our running backs have to make plays," said Gundy. Most believe they will.
Wide receiver Charlie Moore was the surprise star of the spring game grabbing nine passes for 243 yards and three touchdowns. Two springs ago it was Justin Blackmon that emerged. Last spring it was Tracy Moore.
Rumors of Charlie Moore having a big spring are confirmed.
"He's obviously had a good spring," said Gundy.
The two Moores look like they should be capable of being Big 12 stars.
"Tracy Moore has been more consistent than anyone this spring," said Gundy.
In addition, there was no need for folks to see much of Joseph Randle or Jeremy Smith at running back. We know they are capable of being two of the top runners in the league.
"I know what those guys can do," said Gundy.
What we don't know is what we still don't know. Who will be the quarterback that emerges to replace Weeden, the best quarterback in OSU history?
The Cowboys may not have one guy that can replace Justin Blackmon, the two-time All-American receiver, but they do have a handful of very capable receivers.
So, the workload at receiver may become more spread out next fall.
But, you can't do that at quarterback. You need one guy.
"Obviously, the hardest to replace is the guy that pulls the trigger," said Monken.
According to coaches, the spring game was a reflection of the entire spring. All three showed some signs of brilliance.
If you gave a slight nod to anyone it might have been Walsh, the blue-chip recruit out of Texas two years ago. Most consider Walsh to have a huge upside. He was considered the top prep quarterback in Texas two years ago. He has tons of talent and completed some very difficult throws in the spring game.
Walsh's combined stats playing for the two teams on Saturday were 16-of-27 for 310 yards and two touchdowns.
"J.W. played well (on Saturday)," said Gundy. "He had his best day of the spring."
OSU would likely take those kind of stats for every game next fall and be more than happy.
However, Clint Chelf, who was Weeden's backup last fall, was very steady. He had combined stats of 18-of-31 for 212 yards and two touchdowns.
Lunt, who was playing high school football just four months ago, made some terrific throws in the spring game.
Many believe that it was Lunt's rapid progress, which apparently surprised even the coaches, that threw the quarterback race up for grabs among three.
Lunt's numbers were very much like those of his two quarterback rivals - 15-of-23 for 215 yards and two touchdowns.
"Wes continually got better throughout the spring," said Monken. "He continually got a better grasp of things. He was pretty steady in his improvement."
So, what does it all mean?
Gundy has a tough decision. Not because he doesn't have a good answer. He has three good answers.
That's why he's now making $3.2 million. OSU is betting a lot of money that he will make the right decision.
Cornerback Miketavius Jones (24) and wide receiver Tracy Moore (87) battle for a pass, which eventually turned into a touchdown for Moore, during OSU's Spring Football game at Boone Pickens Stadium, in Stillwater, on Saturday. CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World