OSU's Chelf gains respect with Kansas State performance
BY JIMMIE TRAMEL World Sports Writer
Thursday, November 08, 2012
11/08/12 at 5:59 PM
A Thursday Tulsa World sports headline was inaccurate in naming a starting quarterback for Oklahoma State. The school has not named a starting QB for Saturday's game against West Virginia. This headline has been corrected.
Related Story: OSU football notebook: Turning the tide
STILLWATER - Gutsy move? A few weeks ago, Clint Chelf approached his "boss" and declared himself the best man for a job.
Chelf, who began the season as a third-teamer, said he had worked hard and said he is the quarterback who gives the Cowboys the best chance to win.
Or at least that's how offensive coordinator Todd Monken recalls the conversation.
Chelf couldn't provide a first-hand account because he was declared off-limits for interviews this week.
Chelf wasn't off-limits after throwing for 233 yards in less than one half of football Saturday night against unbeaten Kansas State.
But he won't be elaborating about the highlight moment of his career during a week in which OSU is preparing for a home game against West Virginia and Dana Holgorsen, who was Chelf's position coach in 2010.
The respect level for Chelf has never been higher. He came off the bench early in the third quarter (after starter Wes Lunt was knocked out of the game) and directed three scoring drives.
"Clint was great out there," fullback Kye Staley said. "He kept telling us to never give up, never give up. We all knew that we could have made that game a lot closer than it was and he was the main guy behind that."
If Chelf was going to give up, the timing was ripe in the spring.
OSU staged a three-man QB derby during spring drills. Chelf, a junior who backed up Brandon Weeden for two seasons, finished third behind two freshmen.
Monken suspected Chelf might leave. Most guys in Chelf's situation transfer, according to the coach.
Monken told reporters this week that OSU emerged from spring drills with three good quarterbacks. But decisions had to be made and, after they were, Chelf wanted to know what chance he would have to compete.
"I didn't blow any smoke up his rear end," Monken said. "I just said 'hey, you are going to be the third guy and you know what that entails. You get third-guy reps and it's going to be with the third-team players, which means you are not going to look very good because they are going to make a bunch of mistakes'."
Trotting out another "most guys" reference, Monken said Chelf could have responded this way: "Most guys just kind of say, 'hey, I'm the third guy. I'm just going to ride this out and be an Oklahoma State alum and come back to (Eskimo) Joe's and hang out and golf with all the old players and stuff.' But the reality is he really worked hard (to improve)."
Lunt started OSU's first three games. When he sustained a knee injury, J.W. Walsh played like he wanted to prove that he should be starting. And when both were unavailable against Kansas State, Chelf played like he had something to prove.
Mike Gundy said it was "extremely difficult" for Chelf and his family to endure the events that occurred between spring and Saturday. But the coach said conversations took place in which Chelf was told he could be "put into the fire" at any time. And, of course, there was the conversation with Monken in which Chelf said he gave OSU the best chance to win.
Monken respected that, even if he didn't agree. But Chelf believed what he said, according to Monken, who understands how Chelf reached that conclusion.
"He is in our meetings and I think he saw all the mistakes the young guys are making, and yet they are throwing for 400 yards," Monken said. "(He thought) 'I can do that.' And I mean that sincerely."
Coaches make personnel decisions based on what they see. Monken said the "sample size" of evidence on Chelf is small. But he is gaining believers. Tweeted Cleveland Browns and former OSU receiver Josh Cooper, "I'll tell (you) this much, (Chelf) looked great out there. Think he needs more snaps."
Lane Taylor said he knew Chelf could play.
"But I didn't think he would play at that level," the senior guard said in reference to the Kansas State game. "He surprised me and a lot of other people."
Taylor, asked if he views Chelf any differently, said, "I believe my confidence level went up."
Taylor said he has full confidence in Chelf as a starter.
Lunt is expected to practice this week as he and Chelf get ready for West Virginia.
"Thanks for the support," Chelf messaged to his Twitter followers after the Kansas State game. "But we've got work to do in order to get back on track next week."
Sept. 1: vs. Savannah State W, 84-0
Sept. 8: at Arizona L, 59-38
Sept. 15: vs. La.-Lafayette W, 65-24
Sept. 29: vs. Texas L, 41-36
Oct. 13: at Kansas W, 20-14
Oct. 20: vs. Iowa State W, 31-10
Oct. 27: vs. TCU W, 36-14
Nov. 3: at Kansas State L, 44-30
Nov. 10: vs. West Virginia (KTUL) 2:30 p.m.
Nov. 17: vs. Texas Tech (FSOK) 2:30 p.m.
Nov. 24: at Oklahoma TBD
Dec. 1: at Baylor TBD
Vs. West Virginia
2:30 p.m. Saturday
Radio: KFAQ am1170
Jimmie Tramel 918-581-8389
OSU quarterback Clint Chelf looks to pass against Kansas State during Saturday's game in Manhattan, Kan. CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World