STILLWATER — J.W. Walsh quarterbacked four OSU games in 2012. He's quarterbacked five this season.
The competition was similar, except this season Walsh got to play against I-AA Lamar. Walsh threw 163 passes last season, 169 passes this season. Fairly even comparison.
And Walsh was better last season. He completed 66.9 percent of his passes; 60.9 percent this season. A ratio of 13 touchdown passes with three interceptions last season; 9-3 this season. A yards-per-pass average of 9.6 last season, 7.2 this season.
Walsh's quarterbacking rating last season was 170.1, a number that doesn't mean anything to anybody, but trust me. It's really good. Walsh ranked fourth in the nation, just ahead of Tajh Boyd, Geno Smith, Marcus Mariota and Teddy Bridgewater.
This season, Walsh's quarterbacking ranking is 135.1. Again, trust me. That's not so good. It ranks 61st in the nation.
We know all the plot elements – no NFL-caliber tailback, revamped and crippled offensive line, new coordinator – that have reduced Walsh's effectiveness. But as the Cowboys host TCU on Saturday in a virtual Big 12 elimination game, the truth is clear. Walsh has to be more productive for OSU to have a memorable season.
“There's been enough weeks now, I think he'll start getting back to his real ways,” said OSU flanker Josh Stewart, Walsh's high school pal at Denton Guyer.
Tailback Joseph Randle isn't coming back from the NFL. Offensive coordinator Todd Monken isn't coming back from Southern Miss. Offensive tackle Devin Davis isn't coming back from the injured list.
So what can OSU do to get Walsh going? Here are four ways.
1. Play faster. The Cowboys have used the hurryup offense only in spots. Walsh's leadership and smarts are the best parts of his game. Use them by going uptempo.
“We'd like to play at a great pace,” offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said. “At times, you have to take your foot off the gas pedal. But we're working real hard on it. Our guys know that's a real staple and that's part of our identity, so we don't want to lose that.”
Late in the Kansas State game two weeks ago, the Cowboys switched to uptempo and drove right down the field for the game-winning touchdown,.