STILLWATER, Okla. —
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy isn’t saying who the Cowboys will start at quarterback Saturday against No. 23 Texas Tech.
Wes Lunt and J.W. Walsh are recovering from knee injuries, which leaves third-string junior Clint Chelf of Enid as the only healthy quarterback for the Cowboys. Last week, Chelf led the Cowboys to a 55-34 win over West Virginia. Chelf completed 22 of 31 passes for 292 yards and four touchdowns in his first career start.
Even with that level of success, Gundy was not making any commitment Monday as OSU (6-3, 4-2 Big 12) prepared to host No. 23 Texas Tech (7-3, 4-3) in its final home game of the season.
“We hope we have three healthy players on Saturday, and there’s a chance that could happen, but we won’t know until late in the week. The only answer I have is we’ll play the guy who gives us the best chance to win on Saturday,” Gundy said. “As coaches, we have to make tough decisions, and that’s what we’ll do on Thursday.”
Ironically, the Cowboys have enjoyed a level of success uncommon when injuries occur multiple quarterbacks are forced into action. The talent gap, Gundy said, has been blurred by all three having similar statistics.
“Clint has been in 5 1⁄2 quarters and his experience has been evident in that he makes fewer mistakes than the other two guys. Clint has played better than we would have anticipated or at that point (spring drills) he wouldn’t have been third team,” he said.
After nine games, the statistics almost are identical based on time played.
Walsh has played in six games, completing 102 of 154 attempts for 1,467 yards and 10 touchdowns. Lunt, a freshman, isn’t far behind. He’s completed 80 of 128 passes for 1,096 yards and six TDs. Chelf, who has had the least amount of playing time, has connected on 42 of 66 passes for 576 yards coupled with six touchdowns.
With its trio of QBs, OSU has accumulated 3,139 passing yards, while scoring almost 44 points per game.
Lunt was tabbed as the Cowboy quarterback to start the season, but suffered a knee injury in the third game against Louisiana-Lafayette. Enter Walsh, who played the next three games against Texas, Kansas and Iowa State while going 2-1. Walsh suffered a knee injury against Iowa State, but never left the game.
Lunt returned, guiding OSU to a win over TCU before suffering another injury the following week against Kansas State. Chelf finished the K-State game, and then led the Cowboys to victory last week against West Virginia.
Although faced with a tough decision later this week, Gundy admitted the QB dilemma is preferable to the alternative.
“I’d rather be in this situation than looking for a guy to go out there and make a play,” he said.
Gundy views the competition between the three signal-callers as healthy.
“I think their relationship is good,” he said. “We’ve been very up-front with all of them. There’s no reason to hide it. Being up-front isn’t always the easiest thing, but for the most part, it’s created and fostered an environment for those guys to have a good relationship. When they walk out of that meeting room or they walk out of that position room, at least they know they’ve been told the truth and that helps them develop a relationship.”
Gundy joked that the two injured quarterbacks were standing on the sideline last Saturday “trying to decide what play they should run and then wondered how Clint figured it out so fast.”
On a more serious note, Gundy said he admires the way Chelf has “handled the (quarterback) situation the last nine months” at a time when he could have transferred to another school and started.