It’s been a little more than a week since true freshman Wes Lunt was named Oklahoma State’s starting quarterback. I thought it would be interesting to revisit a pre-spring conversation with Cowboy offensive coordinator Todd Monken, where he addressed the QB situation before practices began.
How far we’ve come in less than two months. Actually, how far Lunt has come.
Monken was asked how if there was a chance Lunt would come in and really impress (“light it up” was the phrase used). Here’s Monken’s response:
“He won’t. Not with our skill guys. There’s no way he can. Could he be better if he came in last year? Yeah, maybe, because you have Black (Justin Blackmon) and Coop (Josh Cooper) and Hubert (Anyiam) and everything looks better if you put him with the 1s. But the reality is that we’re not going to make those two-a-day, three-a-day, once-a-game, twice-a-game, bail-you-out kind of plays that a Ryan Broyles makes, that a Blackmon makes, that those guys make. They bail you out. They make plays that nobody else can. Quarterback aside, you can throw a slant to them and they run for 50 yards.
“I’ll be stunned if he’s our starter. No out of skill set, but just out of he’s got to learn. I’m hopeful. But the moment he goes out there, it’s not like we send in a runner to him, he gets the play and he verbalizes it back. We signal it to him, he has to get the signal and it’s a different verbiage and signal to our other guys…he has to tell the O-Line what to do, he has to tell everybody else what to do and then he has to be confident in what he has to do.
“I think where you’ll know is if after a couple weeks, how’s he throwing in 7-on-7? Because if he’s doing that and he has a clue, there’s less to do and the team’s not around, at least you have something to kind of go by. But the team thing, he’s going to struggle, just like J.W. did last year. Forget even just your skill set. It’s just getting everybody lined up.
“The reality is (with) Wes, we’re giving him an opportunity because the other guys haven’t shown anything yet. So you say that with, ‘OK, he’s going to get the equal reps. And that’s the problem. You try to figure out if and when do you pull back? Who has the measurable skill set that’s going to keep improving?”
Now look at Monken’s comments after the spring finale nearly two weeks ago. He was right in that Lunt didn’t “light it up” right away. But he picked things up quickly, and clearly answered the call of being able to get all the pre-snap stuff figured out in a short amount of time. That impressed Monken, and ultimately led to him being named the starter.
“Wes has continually, which you would expect, gotten better. He’s throwing more confidently, he’s grasped things…all the signaling, all the processing, getting guys lined up, those things, in such a short time. Once he got through about the first week, he’s been steady throughout.
“What’s interesting is you never know until a guy gets here. You think you know, but how much time do you really get, when a kid decides to commit, that you understand a guy’s poise and calm demeanor and the way he handles being in meetings and the players and all of that? That was probably the most impressive of anything. Through me dog-cussing the crap out of him and screwing stuff up, he was able to function without basically just going in the tank and quitting…His body language doesn’t change. It’s so similar to Brandon in that regard that it’s just everything just kind of goes. When he gets excited, you hardly even know it.
“By middle of the spring, it started to be apparent that there was a possibility he could be our starter.”
Here are some other quotes from that March conversation about the quarterbacks that I thought would be interesting to look at again. Some have shown up in previous stories, while others were left on the cutting room floor.
On what he expected from the quarterbacks at the beginning of spring:
“Chelf’s at an advantage because he played more, so he’s going to be more efficient in what he does. I don’t know if, at any point, are you going to in 15 practices say you know for sure that J.W. or Wes Lunt is better than Clint? You’re probably going to have to guess some, because it’s not like we’re in contact (drills).
“We try to do this at every position — (find out) what’s their dominant trait? You either better be a damn good runner at quarterback or a damn good thrower. If you’re just kind of OK at everything, do we have enough other good skill guys around to make you look better? No, probably not. So how do you change the game with a certain skill set? With J.W., it might be running. It might be his ‘it’ factor. He has that. Wes might be with his throwing, but he was just playing for Rochester High School, and that wasn’t even the highest level of football against the highest level of competition.”
On the likelihood of naming a starter at the end of spring practice:
“We definitely have to have it down to two. You definitely, at that moment, would have to say ‘OK, here’s where we’re at, here’s what we’re going with.’ You may not say that to the guys, but you definitely would have to have it somewhat pared down.
“No one has three quarterbacks that they really like. I don’t give a (expletive) what anybody says. You might have two that you think are pretty damn good. You might have a third that’s a backup. You could never go (into fall camp) and say, ‘Guess what? We’re going to go ahead and give everybody equal reps.’ There’s just no way. So by (the end of spring ball), somehow, you would have had to evaluate everything and say ‘OK, Wes isn’t ready’ (or) ‘Wes we think is somewhat ready.’ But someone’s got to be able to be the third and take the third reps and hope that it works out.”
Some more on the quarterbacks’ traits:
“If you don’t separate yourself (if you’re Chelf), the guy with the ‘it’ factor you have to go with. That’s the reality of it. The guy I know right now that has the it factor is J.W. He works harder than anyone else he has, he’s always out front, he’s got it. Now, there’s kids that play Division III football that have it, but they don’t have the skill set to play higher.”
“Clint’s a good kid. He throws it pretty good. He’s gotten a lot better. He understands what we’re doing. Does he have a moxie? Does he completely believe in himself? Does he take the field and it just shows? No. It doesn’t. And you’re talking to him about it and whatnot, but can you teach that? I think you can polish it, but I’m not sure, I don’t think it’s teachable.”
“Clint, to me, is going to have to come out and really play well early. Because he’s going to keep getting better, but it’s not going to grow like the other two will. He’s been here…if he’s not measurably better you’re going to have to say, these guys are eventually going to pass him.”
Another random note: Monken mentioned Charlie Moore twice as a receiver that would really need to step up and that had done well during winter workouts. He sure was right about that.