Gina Mizell: Expect OSU's Wes Lunt to start against TCU

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:
Oklahoman Modified: October 24, 2012 at 4:28 pm •  Published: October 24, 2012
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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.

by Gina Mizell
OSU Sports Reporter
Gina Mizell joined The Oklahoman in August of 2011 as the Oklahoma State beat writer, where she covered the Cowboys' historic run to the Big 12 championship and Fiesta Bowl in her first season on the job. Before arriving in Stillwater, Gina was...
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