John Klein: Experience, not age, the real difference between Weeden and Lunt
BY JOHN KLEIN Senior Sports Columnist
Friday, April 27, 2012
4/27/12 at 4:02 AM
Related story: OSU tabs freshman QB Lunt as starter.
Go to John Klein's Blog Original Print Headline: Gundy makes an extreme decision on Lunt
The two extremes of a debate on the age of quarterbacks involved Oklahoma State on Thursday.
Wes Lunt was just 9 years old when Brandon Weeden graduated from high school and started an athletic odyssey that led to Thursday's NFL draft.
Yet, on the same day Weeden went from former minor league baseball player to pro football quarterback, Lunt became Oklahoma State's starting quarterback.
From oldest to youngest in less than three months.
Weeden, 28, was quarterbacking the third-ranked Cowboys to a Fiesta Bowl victory over fourth-ranked Stanford on Jan. 2.
Lunt was quarterbacking an Illinois high school team in December.
Weeden was born in 1983. Lunt was born the same month in 1993.
Weeden was one of the big names on the first night of the NFL draft on Thursday.
Just hours earlier, OSU coach Mike Gundy made a splash when he named Lunt as OSU's new starting quarterback.
Obviously, age is just a number to Gundy.
Weeden's age was a huge factor in his NFL evaluation. Most believe if Weeden was younger he would have been a top five pick.
However, his age, which seemed to make him even better as OSU's quarterback the past two years, is a negative with the NFL.
"I just want to prove those people wrong," said Weeden. "I hear what they're saying and I just have to sit back and take it.
"It's getting old, but I can't control it."
By contrast, the Cowboys, on the same day Weeden made the jump to the pros, made the surprising choice of Lunt as quarterback.
Talk about extremes.
"Wes is the best player to lead our football team," said Gundy.
Instead of talking about how old his quarterback is, Gundy will now be answering questions about how young his quarterback is.
Instead of the perceived liabilities of a older player, now the debate at OSU will be about the perceived liabilities of a younger player.
What Gundy is doing by naming Lunt is proving the Cowboys are committed to the same style of play of the past two years.
The Cowboys will be what they were the past two years on offense - wide-open passing attack with effective running but with a much younger quarterback.
Gundy made it clear that he wanted to remain the same, as far as style.
He said the Cowboys wanted to "stay consistent on our style of play."
That was apparently most likely with Lunt, considered the best drop-back passer of the three candidates to replace Weeden.
But what Lunt won't be able to replace, especially at the start of next year, is one of the great attributes of Weeden - his poise and confidence.
Weeden was an excellent passer, a player with tremendous arm strength that could make all of the throws needed in OSU's style of offense.
Lunt may have the type of arm to replace the talent.
It won't be as easy for him to fill the void of Weeden's calm confidence.
When the Cowboys needed a play, Weeden would make it.
Weeden did not get flustered by bad plays or games. Even after the devastating loss at Iowa State, which cost OSU a chance to play for the national title, Weeden calmly said OSU would regroup and be ready for the season-closer with Oklahoma.
The Cowboys responded just as Weeden predicted.
That's the type of confidence that comes from experience. Weeden, through his minor league baseball career, had learned to deal with the ups and downs of sports.
He knew what it was like to give up a home run and still have to get back up on the mound and make the next pitch.
That will serve Weeden well in the pros and is why his age should have been a positive, not a negative, to the pros.
Weeden is cool under pressure, something he will prove in what many believe will be a solid pro career.
Lunt will need time to become that type of player.
Lunt may have the physical tools that will make him a high-level player in the future.
Certainly Gundy hinted that he expects his new quarterback to improve greatly before next fall.
He has hinted all spring that Lunt has a huge "upside."
And, he said the new starter will now get 75 percent of the reps with the starting unit. All spring, the reps with the starting were split equally among the three candidates.
He expects Lunt to make huge strides before the fall.
But, the calm coolness of Weeden cannot be learned on a practice field. It has to be learned under the glare of bright lights and thousands of fans.
Gundy has made another bold decision.
The wisdom of this decision may not be known for several years. But, there would appear to be the possibility of a big upside.
Just like there was when he named a former minor league pitcher his starting quarterback two years and 23 victories ago.