STILLWATER — Mike Gundy didn't see the play.
Didn't see Wes Lunt floating to his right, trying to escape the pressure applied by blitzing Louisiana-Lafayette cornerback Melvin White. Didn't see White's helmet collide with Lunt's left leg. Didn't see Lunt clutching his knee while laying on the turf near the OSU 40-yard line. Gundy's eyes were focused down the field.
But the reaction from the Boone Pickens Stadium crowd told Gundy all he needed to know.
“I don't know that the stadium's ever been that quiet,” the Oklahoma State coach said. “You could hear somebody talking 50 rows up.”
OSU rebounded from a stunning loss at Arizona last week with a convincing 65-24 win against ULL Saturday. The more pressing issue, though, is the health of Lunt, the true freshman the Cowboys (2-1) have anointed as their quarterback of the present and future. Lunt was helped off the field, got his knee heavily wrapped on the OSU bench and then went to the locker room on crutches in the first half.
Lunt was hurt on the Cowboys' first offensive series, on a play-action pass on first down. Offensive coordinator Todd Monken wished Lunt had gotten more practice reps with that particular play, because if he had, perhaps he would have quickly dumped the ball to the fullback for a short gain and would not have been hit. Instead, Lunt drifted out of the pocket so he could throw the ball away, giving White time to lay the blow.
“You feel like you've had a part of that,” Monken said. “It stinks for him. He's done so well. Hopefully all that is, is a couple weeks or a month or something like that. Hopefully it's not something extreme.”
FOX Sports reported during the game broadcast that Lunt had sustained a dislocated kneecap, an injury that typically takes 2-4 weeks to heal. But a source close to the program told The Oklahoman that the injury is not a dislocated kneecap, though it is also not believed to be season-ending.
When Gundy addressed the media following the game, the coach said Lunt had not been fully examined or diagnosed yet and that the quarterback's status would not be released until the Friday before the Texas game on Sept. 29.
“I just hate to say anything at this point,” Gundy said.Lunt had impressed in his first two games as a Cowboy, completing all 11 passes he threw against Savannah State before setting a Big 12 freshman record with 436 passing yards at Arizona. Coaches consistently praised Lunt's accuracy, maturity and composure, even dating back to the spring, when he enrolled early at OSU and earned the right to succeed Brandon Weeden as the Cowboys' starter by beating out redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh and junior Clint Chelf in a highly publicized three-man quarterback competition. On the season, Lunt has completed 51 of his 75 passes for 588 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions.
Backup quarterback J.W. Walsh shined while taking over for Lunt, directing an offense that put up a school-record 742 yards. He completed 21 of his 30 passes for 347 yards and added 73 rushing yards and a score.
“We know J.W. can make plays,” OSU running back Joseph Randle said. “We weren't too worried about it. At a young age, he's a leader on our team, regardless of where he's at on the depth chart.”
And for the short-term, Walsh is No. 1 on the depth chart, starting with OSU's upcoming bye week.
Before the season, that open date was viewed as an extra week for Lunt to continue to get comfortable in OSU's offensive system before its Big 12 opener against Texas. Now, the coaches will use that time to start to cater the Cowboys' spread to Walsh's skill set as a runner and thrower, though Monken said the base of the offense will remain the same.
Looking further into the distance, though, Monken is hopeful Lunt will quarterback the Cowboys again in 2012.
“Wes is our guy,” Monken said.