John Klein: Oklahoma State's Chelf deserves credit for late-season surge
BY JOHN KLEIN Senior Sports Columnist
Sunday, November 18, 2012
11/18/12 at 6:15 AM
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Original Print Headline: Chelf deserves credit for surge
STILLWATER - Clint Chelf may have started the season as the third-team quarterback.
He's finishing it in a far different place and, as a result, so is Oklahoma State.
Chelf continued his rags-to-riches story Saturday against No. 23 Texas Tech.
"Clint deserves to play and start in our next game," said OSU coach Mike Gundy.
He also deserves a lot of credit for rescuing a season that could have gone a different direction.
"He's been playing at a very high level," said Gundy.
Chelf was nearly flawless in leading OSU to a 35-14 first-half lead, throwing three touchdowns to Isaiah Anderson as the Cowboys ran away from Texas Tech in a 59-21 victory at Boone Pickens Stadium.
Oklahoma State seems to be on a serious upswing in recent games. The Cowboys have won five of their last six, the only loss at top-ranked Kansas State.
OSU has scored 114 points in its last two games, the best stretch by the Cowboys this season.
Any time you beat a ranked team by 38 points, it is a good day.
"It's a credit to Clint," said OSU offensive coordinator Todd Monken. "He's built some confidence and the guys around him are playing well.
"Clint does a good job of getting us in the right things which allows us to run more of our offense."
Chelf has been key in OSU's late-season surge, rallying the injury-riddled Cowboys to blowout victories over West Virginia and Texas Tech.
"I just tried to spread the ball to those guys and let them make plays," said Chelf.
He's the third OSU quarterback to lead the Cowboys to a Big 12 victory this season.
"You can only play the hand you are dealt," said Monken. "You have to maximize the guys you have."
The Cowboys have certainly done that in recent weeks.
Gundy would never admit it, and wouldn't take credit for it, but this might be his best season as OSU coach. Despite a crippling number of injuries that might have cratered many teams, the Cowboys have survived and flourished in a balanced Big 12 Conference.
O-State is 7-3 with trips to Oklahoma and Baylor left on the schedule.
"I like our team," said Gundy. "I think they'll play well (next week at OU). I would never approach any game any other way."
In the continuing quarterback saga, Chelf kept the Cowboys humming on offense.
"I'm very comfortable right now with how he's playing," said Gundy.
O-State is one of the nation's best offenses, although it has been forced, through injuries, to use three quarterbacks.
OSU shows no signs of slowing, and appears to be kicking it into a higher gear, despite the revolving door at quarterback and receivers depleted by injury.
The Cowboys used a wide variety of formations, trick plays and basic runs in the rout of Texas Tech.
They unveiled a variation of the wildcat formation with J.W. Walsh, back from injury, near the goal line. Walsh threw a TD pass out of the formation.
"We had a package for J.W. and J.W. played well," said Gundy.
The Cowboys threw deep, threw short and pounded the Red Raiders with an effective inside run game.
Chelf's numbers won't dazzle you, especially at a school that just came off two years with Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, but he was very efficient at running OSU's offense.
"He's been here three years," said Monken. "He's had the most practice of our three guys.
"As a result, because of all of that experience, he has an easier time understanding our offense."
It was an offensive clinic for the Cowboys, who seem to be back to a high-octane level with Chelf at quarterback.
Tech came into the game as the Big 12's top-rated defense. It left in shambles, hammered into submission by OSU's offensive variety.
The Cowboys ran for 256 and passed for 231. The 487 yards don't seem like much, especially in a blowout, but OSU didn't do much in the second half because it didn't need to do much.
In fact, O-State, with 333 yards in the first half, got just 154 yards in the second half.
OSU didn't need any offense in the second half because a second interception and a second blocked punt pushed O-State's lead to 59-14 with nearly 13 minutes left in the game.
"It was a very complete game by us," said Gundy. "I thought we played pretty well last week in all three phases (in a 55-34 victory over West Virginia). I thought we were better in all three phases in this game."
No question OSU is making a late-season push. Offensively, OSU "kept it rolling pretty well", said Gundy.
And, defensively, except for a lapse just before halftime, the Cowboys are playing better.
As a result, the Cowboys head into the final two weeks with some hope for a fast finish.
"Our guys have been excited to play each week," said Gundy.
Oklahoma State's Joseph Randle heads downfield after a handoff from Clint Chelf (left) during a football game against Texas Tech in Stillwater on Saturday. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World