Quarterback Wes Lunt is transferring from OSU, and a three-man QB derby becomes a two-man derby that really is a two-man job. It seems quite clear that Clint Chelf will start the 2013 as the Cowboy starter, with J.W. Walsh set to be a situational quarterback for short-yardage and goal-line situations. In other words, just like Mike Gundy suggested going into spring practice, before backtracking and saying it was all a wide open competition.
What are we to make of Lunt’s departure? A few things:
1. New offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich employed an Air Raid-type spread at Shippensburg University, but he also ran his quarterback. With everyone from the NFL to Bob Stoops relenting and declaring the mobile quarterback a needed asset in football, why would OSU be immune? Doesn’t it seem likely that Yurcich is interested in running his quarterback, to some degree? Chelf showed in November that he’s a running threat, and Walsh showed on various stages that he’s more than just a threat. He’s going to run and run well.
2. A philosophical change makes much more sense in Lunt’s departure than does a competitive situation. Worst case scenario for Lunt if he stayed and OSU kept the same general offense installed by Dana Holgorsen: Lunt redshirts in 2013, then takes over as the starter in 2014, when he would be a third-year sophomore, with Walsh as his backup and situational quarterback. Transfer, and Lunt in 2014 would be a third-year sophomore with not nearly as much knowledge of his new digs as the place he left. But if Lunt stays and there’s a fundamental change in the OSU offense, then he’s a Brandon Weeden in a Zac Robinson offense.
3. Lunt had some kind of fall from grace. I don’t think it was anything personal or disciplinary. I just think the OSU coaching staff was less enamored with him after he played, than before. Here’s why. Last April, Gundy named Lunt the 2012 starter, even though he was barely 18 years old and had not gone through his high school graduation ceremony. But eight months later, after Lunt had started four games and played reasonably well for a true freshman, Gundy declared Chelf the incumbent quarterback. Gundy did so in Dallas, during preparations for the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Chelf played fine, remarkably well, in fact, for a third-team quarterback, giving the Cowboys amazing QB depth. But it seemed a little odd that Lunt would be so easily placed behind Chelf going into the 2013 season.
4. It seems likely that OSU had an inkling of Lunt’s displeasure. By this April, Gundy had softened his stance, saying nothing would be decided in the quarterback race and nothing more would be said. Seems like a reasonable move by a coach who was thinking he might be losing a player.
5. Luke Del Rio might have been better off coming to OSU. The Colorado high school quarterback, son of NFL coach Jack Del Rio, committed to OSU but de-committed after offensive coordinator Todd Monken left to become head coach at Southern Mississippi. Luke Del Rio is headed to Alabama, sans scholarship but welcomed by Nick Saban’s program. So that’s likely two quarterbacks that Monken’s departure cost OSU.
6. OSU’s quarterback depth has taken a hit. Not that the Cowboys didn’t lead the nation in quarterback depth. Three quarterbacks, each with at least one 300-yard passing game on their record in 2012 and all with Big 12 victories to their name, is a luxury. But now OSU is like a lot of schools. Good depth, but only one injury away from being worried.