Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said the decision to name true freshman quarterback Wes Lunt the starter after spring practices has benefitted Lunt and the offense heading into the season opener Saturday night against Savannah State.
“He's a little further along than I thought he would be,” Gundy said during the Big 12 teleconference on Monday. “We feel better about making that decision. It has helped ease his mind and the team knowing who the quarterback is going to be so they can concentrate trying to rally around a certain guy.
“I think it really benefitted us. If I had to do it again I'd probably do it the same way.”
Gundy was asked if starting a true freshman quarterback forces coaches to lower expectations.
“There will be mistakes, growing pains,” Gundy said. “We had them with Brandon Weeden and he had been in practice (a few years) and obviously was very mature because of his age. You understand (challenges) that we named him the quarterback. The players realize that.
“He'll make mistakes just like any other young player. You go with it and keep playing. We have to try and do the best we can to get a barometer on mistakes compared to progressing and what it takes to have success. We feel we'll have a pretty good feel for that based on our experience in the offense.”
How much does a true freshmen impact formulating game plans to try and minimize those mistakes?
“I don't think there's anything you can do other than reps and putting him in situations in practice and try to make it as difficult as possible during team periods against your own team,” Gundy said.
One advantage is the Cowboys have some experienced players around Lunt.
Joseph Randle rushed for 1,216 yards last season and scored 26 touchdowns. Jeremy Smith rushed for 666 yards and nine scores.
“(That helps) some,” Gundy said. “But the truth is anytime you put a player on the field that's never played at this level you have concerns, even more so with a guy who is going to touch the ball every play. You love having experience out there, playmakers with him. But ultimately they have to make plays.”
Gundy on other subjects:
The need to consistently force turnovers, a key element to the Cowboys winning their first Big 12 title a year ago: “It's the same. We talk a lot about turnovers and trying to get the ball on the ground. Our players are buying in. We feel it has more of an impact on the game now because of the way offenses can open things up so we expect them to play hard, force turnovers and tackle well.”
Players that commit but still take visits: “Each player is different based on family background, geography, kind of where he's located based on where we are. There really is no correct answer. But I would venture to say when they're taking other visits in the back of your mind you have to know there's a chance he might not come to your school.”
Do high school coaches and parents have a responsibility to keep a recruit “true to his word”? “It's like anything else. You would like for it to be that way but I don't know that it always works out that way. Recruiting has gotten so blown out of proportion now. Young men commit and they can see their name scroll across the bottom of national television channels. It's gotten to the point where it's almost become a little bit of a cat-and-mouse game. I don't think it's good for either side. Parents or coaches ultimately can't be held responsible for where an 18-year-old might change his mind.”