The Oklahoman's Gina Mizell took questions from readers in today's Oklahoma State Power Lunch Chat. Join our Power Lunch Chats Monday-Friday at 11 a.m. on NewsOK.com/Sports. Here's a transcript of today's chat:
Gina, you seem very concerned about whether Lunt can play this weekend. I don't know the status of Lunt's leg, but wouldn't a 100% Chelf be a better option than an 80% Lunt? Chelf has always looked solid when he has been on the field. A solid QB should be able to beat TCU if our defense plays well.
Does Lunt start Saturday?
Give us a prediction for the TCU game if Lunt starts and another for if Chelf starts?
I'm throwing all the Lunt/Chelf questions in right away, just to address them all at once ...
Not sure where you get me being "very concerned" about Lunt being able to start this weekend or not. I'm just going off what the coaches tell me — that Lunt and Chelf have/will split the reps in practice this week and that coaches will decide following today's practice who will start. It's hard to tell if an 80 percent Lunt or a 100 percent Chelf is better, because Chelf has never played in meaningful game time. And Lunt has only played in one meaningful game. Todd Monken has made great points the last couple weeks about that Lunt isn't just going to come back and be the guy he was before he got hurt against ULL, because he developed that accuracy and such through the spring and summer and fall camp and first three weeks of the regular season. There will be some rust, especially for a true freshman. That said, before Lunt got hurt, Chelf was only taking three reps during team period. So he hasn't gotten the consistency for an extended period of time, either.
All that said, I think either QB can be successful this week if they can take care of the football, hand it to Joe Randle and then distribute effectively to the playmakers. Lunt is obviously the long-term answer, but I think Chelf can win a game for you, as well. Chelf also brings more mobility, an element to the offense that was installed more with Walsh. But who does my gut say starts? Lunt.
Are there still enough players available to field an offense?
Short answer: Yes.
Is there any possibility that the Walsh injury is an elaborate hoax? Have you personally seen Lunt walking? (Hitch in his giddy up?)
Elaborate hoax? That's a bit of a stretch. The only controversy/questions surrounding Walsh's injury was the timetable, based on his father telling reporters it would only be 3-5 weeks. But Gundy stressed Monday that it would be very, very difficult for Walsh to be back in the next six weeks, which would put us at the end of the regular season. And Yes, I have personally seen Lunt walking — so have thousands of others who attended the Kansas and ISU games, where Lunt was dressed and warmed up. Lunt has practiced the last couple weeks. I saw him walk off the field last week.
Any news on whether Tracy Moore/Isaiah Anderson/Jeremy Smith will be available for the game on Saturday?
Jeremy Smith would be the guy I'm most confident about playing. He has gotten in the game the last two weeks ... but then limped off after one carry. Seems to be tough for him to shake that ankle injury. Next on the confidence scale would be Anderson. If he played any other position but receiver, he'd probably be ready to go, but the finger is kind of important when catching the football. I'm not optimistic at all about Tracy Moore playing Saturday.
Are coaches worried about Joe Randle’s workload as far as carries?
How much does the offense miss Jeremy Smith? His change of pace and strength around the goal line sure would be nice to have back.
These are also kind of similar questions, so I'll address together ...
I actually talked to Jemal Singleton about Joe's workload last night. He wants four backs to contribute, which obviously hasn't happened the last three games. But you kind of have to handle the hand you've been dealt. They definitely want Jeremy Smith back soon and love the 1A, 1B back system. But Randle likes carrying the heavy load, and sometimes a back gets better as the game goes along. One element of Randle's game that is severely underrated is his durability. *tease to a story set for The Oklahoman sometime this week*
Do you think Lunt being injured during his senior year of high school and returning to finish the year helps him at all in his current situation?
Perhaps, just because he's gone through a pretty significant injury (a broken foot) and come back and been wildly successful. He knows how hard rehab can be, but that the rewards are worth it. It sounds like he's done a good job during the recovery process.
Was Chelf getting as many reps as he will be this week when J.W. Walsh was QB?
Likely not, since Chelf was definitely the No. 2 then. If there was any uncertainty about who would start with yesterday's practice and today's, I could see a scenario where Lunt and Chelf would both get first-team reps.
Have you noticed a trend that OSU has played its two worst games in its two road games this season? Not a good sign when 2/3 road games are against the two best teams in the Big 12.
Sure I've noticed that. Playing on the road is not easy. Arizona can be a rowdy environment — plus that was the first road game of the year and Lunt's first road test ever. The bad weather was obviously a factor at Kansas. But one of the biggest differences between good teams and great teams is the ability to play well and win on the road. OSU is 1-1 on the road, with two subpar performances. And you're right, the road games at K-State and at OU coming up will be extremely tough.
If you had to go out on a limb and guess, who do you think will start this weekend?
At kicker/punter? Quinn Sharp. Oh, I think you mean QB. Wes Lunt.
(Sorry in advance for my attempt at being funny.)
What is Calvin Barnett's status as far as injury or any possible suspension from his accident?
Barnett has not been charged with anything. That's what we know for sure right now.
Lunt needs to play and the offense is better with him vs. Walsh. But who is going to catch it? Will Tracy Moore play? And what about the young freshman receivers Curry, Shepard who we heard so much about? I heard Curry is out for the year, but I missed that.
As mentioned above, I would be way more optimistic about Isaiah Anderson playing than Tracy Moore. Yes, Gundy announced Monday that Curry is out for the year with a shoulder injury (news is in today's paper and currently on the OSU blog). The other Moore — Charlie — has really come through during the last two games, with two long TD grabs. Josh Stewart has been steady, other than the fumble near the goal line last week. Blake Jackson made some plays. Austin Hays had a bad game against ISU with the drops, but I think he's going to be a nice player. Someone like Torrance Carr, who is back from injury, might need to step up. Same with another youngster like Sheperd, as you mentioned.
Every game Texas plays makes OSU’s loss to them look worse. However, OSU would have outscored them with Lunt, and Texas’ offense came on big plays vs. OSU’s pathetic cornerbacks. That said, I am offended at how "off the radar" OSU is and still believe that every game left is winnable. Do you feel a sense that the team is offended with the "disrespect"?
The "disrespect" card, like the "revenge" card last week against ISU, kind of depends on who you talk to. Different guys are motivated by different things. Do players/coaches think they have a chance to win every game left? Absolutely. The OU and K-State games on the road will be very, very tough. But I agree that every other game is extremely winnable ... or losable. That's life in this unpredictable Big 12.
Did you ask Berry Tramel how that crow tasted?
If you're referring to the column he wrote after Saturday's game ... he wasn't insinuating that there was a full-blown QB controversy. He asked the question of when do you consider giving Lunt a medical redshirt, because Walsh had filled in so well? He suggested that if: Lunt couldn't go against TCU then it was time to consider it, because then you're getting into the stretch run of the season and Walsh was playing well. Obviously, nobody knew Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning that Walsh had suffered a season-ending injury. And the question of considering giving Lunt a medical redshirt was a valid one ... one that has been brought up to me several times. So, in short, no.
Is Lunt 100% healthy from a standpoint of re-injury and it’s just a matter of pain tolerance?
Gundy said Monday that Lunt was not 100 percent then, but that he's approaching the point to where he's healthy enough to play. Like I've mentioned several times in this chat, I think Lunt starts Saturday, unless something unforeseen happens like he comes back today and is really, really sore or re-aggravates the injury or something.
Why couldn't Darrell Williams return to the basketball team this year since he stayed in school and is now out of jail?
Not a matter of "could." He wants to return to Chicago and then transfer somewhere else. Think about how Big 12 road environments would be for him, the media attention, etc. It makes sense why he wants to go home and then play somewhere smaller.
With all the legal issues and injuries to the OSU basketball team, how many Big 12 caliber players can they realistically field this year?
The Brian Williams injury is a big blow, obviously. The other injuries/illnesses that had plagued the Cowboys during the first few weeks of practice don't appear to be serious. They'll get those guys back soon. Right now the biggest question/concern is JP Olukemi's eligibility beyond the fall semester.
What is Epstein's status? Jenkins played pretty well filling in last week.
I'd imagine Epstein will be ready to go.
It seems like OSU will have to win a few games in a shoot-out the rest of the way, not exactly unusual in the Big 12. Do you think at some point the back-and-forth over the course of the season of different quarterbacks and receivers in the lineup will disrupt their ability to keep up with other high-octane offenses?
Sure, it could. We have yet to see the REALLY high-octane offenses, OU, West Virginia, Texas Tech, Baylor, etc. But the sooner Lunt gets back, the better, to re-establish chemistry and get his timing back with receivers and such. In a weird way, OSU lucks out in that those games come at the end of the season.
They say they're going to rotate more on defense to help the fatigue factor. Who is going to get in the rotation that hasn't been playing as much?
They already rotate quite a bit at a lot of spots. Cooper Bassett, Nigel Nicholas, Ryan Robinson and Tyler Johnson all rotate at end. We'll obviously see more of Lyndell Johnson now that he's healthy, and probably Ryan Simmons. The secondary is thin right now, but we've seen more of Zack Craig and Larry Stephens at safety. Kevin Peterson and Ashton Lampkin obviously need to continue to play at CB. DT is really where there hasn't been a lot of rotating, but Anthony Rogers, Davidell Collins and Christian Littlehead obviously have quite a bit of experience.
How much do you think Sharp's accuracy problems have to do with his full kicking duties wearing him out?
That's a good question. I personally don't think so. He's in really good shape, for a kicker or any football player. While Sharp is probably the best all-around kicker/punter in the nation, he's not an elite kicker. He wasn't last season and hasn't been so far this season. A good/dependable kicker, but not an elite one. Those are tough to find in college football. Gundy did mention Sunday that Sharp needs to make more FGs.
Can you explain the disappearance of Christian Littlehead?
Mostly that Calvin Barnett and James Castleman are better. I know he was a bit in the doghouse at the start of the season, for obvious reasons, but not sure if he's completely climbed out yet. More than anything, it's that he's slipped that far down the depth chart.
OSU's secondary was getting some national attention preseason as one of the best in the nation, but the results have been uneven so far. Do you think that group can still be elite, or are depth concerns and some underachieving going to make for a continued inconsistent season in pass defense?
Elite? I don't know. Better? Definitely The secondary play has been one of the biggest surprises/disappointments so far this season. Gilbert, Brown and Co. have played better the last two weeks, but Kansas and Iowa State obviously don't have the most potent offenses in the Big 12. I've mentioned/written several times that I think this crew misses Markelle Martin more than we realized — for his leadership, toughness and over-the-top safety help. The injuries to CBs like Hedgepeth and Jonovan Griffin — not to mention Voch Cooper and Isaac Maselera leaving the team for personal reasons — certainly doesn't help matters. How the secondary performs will definitely be something to watch in the second half of the season.
Are you aware if the coaching staff's plan is still to name a QB starter today for the game Saturday?
It was the plan on Monday. I can't imagine why it would change. But the decision will not be announced publicly today.
Does Quinn Sharp have a better shot at making it as a pro as a kicker or punter? Elite at both in college, but not sure which skill pro scouts would prefer in him.
Punter and kickoff specialist.
Aside from Bedlam, which game are you most excited about to cover the rest of the season?
The K-State game next week. That's been the road game (meaning out-of-state "road") I've been most looking forward to since the schedule was released. Collin Klein is one of my favorite players in college football. K-State is a national title contender. I've heard Manhattan is a fun game day atmosphere. So it should be a cool experience. I love going on the road, especially to places I've never been. I still haven't gotten to every Big 12 venue yet, so these are all fun trips. I'm obviously looking forward to the West Virginia game, as well, because of all the OSU connections. There will be a lot of interesting stories to write that week.
It seems like the defensive front has been more physical since the Arizona game. What has been the difference?
I thought the line (especially Castleman) actually played pretty well against Arizona's run game until the fourth quarter. I think experience has helped — those starters were ALL new at the start of the season (though some of them beat out returning starters, and Nigel Nicholas was just at a new position). I know Bill Young still wants to get a better pass rush, but the Cowboys have done well against the run this season.
Follow-up to your defensive rotations answer: why hasn't there been more rotating at DT? The starters seemed to get worn down late against Kansas.
Against Texas is where I most noticed it. But you're right. I know they think Barnett and Castleman are absolutely the best DTs they have, but seeing if they do rotate more guys in there will be something to watch. And seeing how those starters are at the end of November will be interesting to watch, too. Neither Castleman nor Barnett has played this much while going through a rigorous Big 12 schedule.
How much did the Cowboys miss Lyndell Johnson when he was out? It seems he made a few plays in the ISU game they didn't make before
He was absolutely missed. He is extremely athletic and fantastic in pass coverage. Just one of those guys that has a great nose for the football. He would have made a big difference in the Arizona game, in my opinion, because the Wildcats kind of feasted on the LBs in pass coverage with that short-to-intermediate passing game. Gundy raved about him during postgame after ISU about how much it helped that he was back. Against these Big 12 teams that like to throw the ball, I think he'll help out a ton.