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Oklahoma, Oklahoma State playing coy with QB battles

COMMENTARY — Even though Mike Gundy and Bob Stoops have yet to officially anoint their starters, Clint Chelf and Blake Bell will lead their respective offenses.
by Berry Tramel Modified: July 28, 2013 at 10:00 am •  Published: July 27, 2013

Only four Big 12 football coaches have announced a starting quarterback for the 2013 season, which kicks off in less than five weeks.

Charlie Weis says the undeclared are not undecided.

“By the time spring's over, you know who the quarterback's going to be,” said Kansas' coach. “Unless you've got some hotshot that hasn't been on campus yet, most people know who it's going to be.”

What a royal pain in the caboose is the unfiltered Weis — to other coaches and, I suppose, to his own players, who he famously called a load of crap.

Weis has blown the cover of, among others, Bob Stoops and Mike Gundy, who have zipped their lips about the quarterback derbies being staged in Norman and Stillwater.

Stoops countered Weis, saying it “rarely” is clear after spring. Is Stoops staying quiet to keep his troops competitive? To keep foes guessing? Or does he really not know?

“All of the above,” Stoops said.

Most of us believe Stoops and Gundy know full well who will take the opening snaps of the season. Blake Bell at OU and Clint Chelf at OSU seem sure bets to run what have been consistently excellent offenses.

Bell has played to great acclaim in the Belldozer, he showed well in the spring game and he fits the mold of Stoops' best quarterbacks. Big, strapping, strong-armed, quality character.

Chelf, meanwhile, finished the 2012 season strong, going from third-string to November hero after injuries struck the Cowboys. Chelf's apparent hold on the job prompted phenom Wes Lunt to transfer to Illinois.

Of course, Stoops and Gundy have their reasons for keeping their opinions in the vault. Keep all parties motivated. No reason to show your hand until you have to, in case circumstances change via injury or misdeed. Keep opponents clueless, though in the case of OSU, Mississippi State would be working on both quarterbacks anyway, since the Cowboys have shown an effective alternative-QB package with J.W. Walsh.

Stoops is choosing from three unproven quarterbacks. Gundy was choosing from three proven guys, until Lunt transferred out after spring practice. Gundy's plight probably is more difficult.

It's hard to keep three quarterbacks happy even if none of them have played much. It's impossible to keep three quarterbacks happy when all have known the splendor of Saturday success.

Heck, Gundy might have unwittingly helped run off Lunt by trying to keep Chelf in the fold. In December, when Gundy said Chelf had earned the right to go into spring as the No. 1 quarterback, maybe he was trying to discourage Chelf from transferring, since as an OSU graduate Chelf could have left and played immediately, perhaps at a QB-deficient school like Southern Miss.

Hard to blame Gundy either way. Seems likely that one of the three was headed out the door, no matter what.

Still, not every Big 12 coach is keeping secrets. Texas' David Ash is an incumbent; KU's Jake Heaps was a no-brainer, having played well at Brigham Young in 2010-11; Iowa State has little option besides Sam Richardson; and Baylor's Bryce Petty is a star in the making, according to his very own coach.

Baylor last season had an excellent quarterback in Nick Florence. But Briles was quick to anoint Petty as Florence's successor and to embrace high goals.

A reasonable expectation for Petty? “First thing that popped into my mind is break every Baylor record there is offensively, which is what we expect him to do and what he plans to do,” Briles said. “His expectations are to win every game and be the best quarterback in the United States of America.”

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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