John Klein: Oklahoma State quarterback success a testament to Cowboys program
BY JOHN KLEIN Senior Sports Columnist
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
11/13/12 at 4:45 AM
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Original Print Headline: QB success a testament to Cowboys' program
STILLWATER - Oklahoma State won an important league game Saturday with its third-team quarterback.
"I've been around a lot of teams that you couldn't win a game with your second-team quarterback," said OSU defensive coordinator Bill Young. "I think that says a lot about those players and coaches that we have such a capable player who was ready to play when we needed him."
In case you're counting, that's Big 12 Conference victories by three different OSU quarterbacks this season.
That says much about the state of Oklahoma State football.
"I don't think I'm shocked," said OSU offensive coordinator Todd Monken. "I'm less shocked than most people that Clint Chelf played winning football (against West Virginia).
"It is a credit to him. Of course, a lot of things go into winning football games and he had a lot of help. We had guys around him playing well and he played well."
There are very few college football teams that could win football games, especially important games in what is considered the second-best league in the country, with their third-team quarterback.
"No question, it was impressive," said OSU coach Mike Gundy.
Oklahoma State has experienced little or no dropoff at quarterback during a season that could have gone wrong.
"I think it is fair to say Clint has played better than we anticipated or he wouldn't have been third team," said Gundy.
OSU started the season with West Lunt. When he was injured, the Cowboys shifted to J.W. Walsh, another freshman.
Then, when Walsh was injured, OSU went back to Lunt. When he was injured again, the Cowboys went to Chelf.
Since coming on in relief against then-No. 2 Kansas State, Chelf is 38-of-58 for 525 yards and five touchdowns.
"I have a great deal of admiration for Clint for the way he has handled the situation," said Gundy.
Despite three different quarterbacks, OSU has reached 600 yards or more in four of its nine games this year.
OSU is averaging 561.1 yards per game, which would be a school record (last year's Cowboys finished at 545.8).
Nationally, OSU is fourth in total offense, third in scoring offense, fourth in passing offense and 22nd in rushing offense. All of that has happened despite the continual upheaval at quarterback.
"We've come a long ways," said Gundy.
Now, all three quarterbacks might be ready Saturday for a Big 12 Conference showdown with Texas Tech that is big for bowl position.
Whatever the result, and whoever is the quarterback, Oklahoma State football is in a far different place than it was a decade ago.
It isn't unusual for teams to occasionally get down to a third-team quarterback.
What is rare is for a team with a third-team quarterback to not only win games but seem to suffer little or no impact.
"Usually, when you get down to your third-team quarterback, you work on your quick kick and hope to play good defense," said Gundy.
Chelf, who finished third in a three-way starting quarterback derby during spring football, appears to be equally effective as Lunt, the original starter, and Walsh, who played very well in relief of Lunt.
Some might argue it is all about the system. That is certainly not out of the question.
But, equally important may be Monken, a superstar assistant.
Monken has been able to adapt the offense to each of the three players. He also has been great in preparing all three with adjusted game plans and dealing with different personalities.
"Todd has done a nice job of handling all three players," said Gundy.
There should no longer be any doubt about Monken's value as offensive coordinator.
Despite a revolving door at quarterback, and wide receivers devastated by a rash of injuries, Monken has kept OSU's offense humming right along.
Yet, it is his work with the quarterbacks that has been most impressive. All three quarterbacks have different strengths.
Lunt has the biggest arm, perhaps the biggest reason why he earned the starting spot right out of high school last spring. So, Lunt gave the Cowboys the best chance to continue down the same offensive path as they were on with Brandon Weeden, now an NFL starter.
Walsh was the most elusive of the three. He was closer in style to former OSU quarterback Zac Robinson, who was a legitimate running threat who could make some big throws.
Then, there is Chelf, the only experienced player among the three, who gave the Cowboys a little bit of both worlds. Chelf is a decent runner and a decent thrower.
Of the three, Chelf knows the offense the best because he's been around the longest.
That brings us to game 10 on the schedule and, because of the injuries, no final solution to OSU's quarterback question.
Who is the best fit?
"If they are all available, we'll go with the one that gives us the best chance to win the game," said Gundy.
Which one is that? So far, all three have given OSU a good chance to win games.
There are three doors. Any of the three might open on Saturday.
OSU quarterback Wes Lunt looks to throw during the Cowboys game at Kansas State's Bill Snyder Family Stadium, in Manhattan, Kan. CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World