STILLWATER — The faithful members of the Clint Chelf bandwagon inside Boone Pickens Stadium Saturday afternoon gave the OklahomaState quarterback a rousing ovation when he trotted onto the field to take the first snap against Texas Tech.
There was much less fanfare when J.W. Walsh snuck onto the field on the ninth play of the drive and converted a third-and-3 with a 4-yard run. But that drive ended in a touchdown — a two-yard scoring strike from Walsh to Kye Staley after the dual-threat quarterback re-entered the game once the Cowboys got near the goal line.
Was this the start of a multipronged attack at quarterback? The one the Cowboy coaching staff envisioned in August and September, before the position was throttled by injuries?
Take Chelf, the quarterback that has been the most effective throwing the football — and has earned the starting nod for the Cowboys' contest at Oklahoma next week, coach Mike Gundy announced after the game. Mix in Walsh, the quarterback that can make the most plays running the ball.
That combination helped lead the Cowboys to a 59-21 victory over the No. 24 Red Raiders in a key conference showdown, and perhaps cemented OSU's plan at the position for the rest of the season.
“It just brings a whole ‘nother dimension,” Chelf said of playing two quarterbacks. “Anytime (Walsh) comes in, people are going to think he's coming into run and just pound it up in there. But on the first drive, he threw a touchdown pass.
“It can keep people off-balance. It gives people a lot to prepare for.”
Chelf and Walsh combined to account for 231 passing yards, 43 rushing yards and five touchdowns in the Cowboys' second consecutive blowout victory at home.
Chelf, who has elevated himself from third-teamer to Bedlam starter in a matter of weeks, continued to be a smart decision-maker with the football and poised leader, completing 11 of his 21 passes for 229 yards, no interceptions and three touchdown strikes downfield to speedster Isaiah Anderson.
“He's playing tough, he's playing confident,” offensive coordinator Todd Monken said. “Those were the things he wasn't doing (when he didn't win the starting job in the spring). So now he's doing that, so that's why we have that added confidence moving forward.
“The guys are playing well around him. We're not turning it over. That's how you win.”
But Walsh, who has returned way ahead of schedule from what was originally identified as a season-ending knee injury, gave OSU something often missing in its spread offense — an effective threat in short-yardage and goal-line situations. He scored from two yards out in the second quarter. Later, he handed off to Randle on fourth-and-1 for a first down. He then entered the game in another goal-line situation late in the third quarter, and handed off to Randle for a leaping score to extend the Cowboys' advantage to 52-14.
So what do we call the Walsh package? The CarWalsh? The Walshing Machine? The 4 Wheeler?
“It's always fun to be on the field, no matter what the situation is,” Walsh said.
Gundy acknowledged after the game that this type of two-quarterback system what he wanted at the start of the year with Lunt and Walsh. But that hasn't been possible for the majority of the season, first because of Lunt's knee/ankle injury sustained in mid-September, then because of Walsh's knee injury sustained in late October.
But here's the Chelf-Walsh duo in mid-November.
Monken said after the game that Lunt is doing fine medically — and “hanging in there” mentally. Lunt led a touchdown drive in a two-minute drill in practice this week, Monken said, and will be ready if needed down the stretch. Right now, though, the Cowboys are going to ride Chelf's momentum as the starter.
So after questions and uncertainly about the quarterback position for the better part of two months, the pecking order appears to be set before the Cowboys head down to Norman — barring injuries, of course. And it all gives the Sooners' coaching staff plenty of new elements to look at on film this coming week.
“It's really unique,” Walsh said of his situational play. “But it's really special to have the group of guys we have right now.”