J.W. Walsh's first throws against Louisiana-Lafayette inspired more fear than faith.
Soon after replacing the injured Wes Lunt, Walsh's initial toss — a quick flip to inside receiver Josh Stewart — was read by ULL safety Le'Marc Gibson and fortunately fell incomplete rather than returned for a pick-6.
It was a similar scene a few passes later for Walsh, who might have been telegraphing his intent, leading to Ragin' Cajun defenders clearly looking to jump routes.
Then quickly things changed.
Walsh sharpened his throws, shifted his aim from the outside — where ULL was focused on Tracy Moore, who'd torched Arizona the week before — and fired strikes to Stewart and Blake Jackson down the middle of the field.
As the Cowboys rolled to a 38-0 lead, midway through the second quarter, Walsh completed 13-of-15 passes with three touchdowns.
Nice adjustments … coach's kid.
In his first real bit of tense action, Walsh responded not only with confidence, but swagger, never shying from the moment. He ran and passed and rallied a squad that could have been in shock, looking like a guy prepared for such situations all his life.
Which he was.
“One thing you've got to remember now,” said Cowboys coach Mike Gundy, “he played at a high level of football in Texas. He's a coach's kid.”
Put a value on that?
“I really don't think you can,” Walsh said, “just because anytime something comes up, it's the knowledge you can come back to, that's in the back of your mind, those conversations at the dinner table with my dad.”
Talks on seeing through disguises in coverages.
Talks aimed at instilling confidence that inspires faith and trust in teammates.
Talks contributing to a sixth sense of sorts that tells a QB when to take off and scramble for key gains when the pocket collapses.
“It's almost second nature,” Walsh said, “being able to know enough and to have enough football ingenuity to make some of those plays.”
The sample size is small — one game — but the response by Walsh was big. And the redshirt freshman revealed many of the intangibles frequently associated with being a coach's son.
He even talks like a coach: calculated and restrained. Rather than rejoice in his performance against the Ragin' Cajuns, Walsh picked it apart.
“There's always thing on film you're going to critique yourself on, the little things — you didn't make the right read, or you didn't make the best throw you had,” he said. “You've got to watch the film and make those corrections.”
Watching film wasn't completely critical for Walsh. There was some fun in it, too.
“There were lots of things that made me smile,” Walsh said. “When you come away with a victory like that and the way the whole team played, it's just fun to look back on it. There will be good memories to look back on in the future.”
Spoken like a coach's son.