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Oklahoma State football: Cowboys' quarterback race features same guys, different situations

Published: March 2, 2013

Didn't Oklahoma State just do this?

Yes, but for different reasons.

The Cowboys will soon stage a quarterback derby for the second consecutive spring. In 2012, the competition was because Brandon Weeden had moved on to the NFL. This year, it's because injuries caused a revolving door at the position this past season, leading to Wes Lunt, J.W. Walsh and Clint Chelf all starting at least three games, all throwing for more than 1,000 yards and all picking up at least one Big 12 victory.

OSU coach Mike Gundy said following the Heart of Dallas Bowl that Chelf, who started the Cowboys' final five contests, had earned the right to top the depth chart to begin the spring. But Walsh, Lunt and even transfer Daxx Garman will be gunning for that spot.

And don't forget, a fresh set of eyeballs from new offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Yurcich will be judging this battle. 

Here's a breakdown of what promises to be another intriguing spring quarterback battle:


* 2012 stats: 60.4 completion percentage, 1,588 passing yards, 15 touchdowns, 6 interceptions

* 2012 summary: Chelf became a bit of a cult hero — complete with a “choo choo!” rallying cry — after his unpredictable rise from third string to starter following injuries to Walsh and Lunt. OSU went 3-2 in Chelf's starts, including a blowout of Purdue in the bowl game.  

* Strengths: As a redshirt senior, Chelf has been in this system since Dana Holgorsen first installed it in 2010. He does not have elite arm strength or athleticism, but his skill set blends an ability to throw and run, particularly on quarterback draws. Chelf's laid-back personality was once viewed as something that could hinder his leadership capabilities, but he clearly earned the respect of his teammates and coaches as the starter. 

* Spring goal: It sounds simple, but practice better. Gundy noted before the bowl that Chelf is a player that performs much better in games than in practice. That, of course, factored into Chelf getting passed over by Lunt last spring. Specifically, Chelf's accuracy can improve. 

* Why he'll win the starting job: Chelf won Gundy over by the end of the season, causing the coach to publicly announce he would be the No. 1 quarterback to start the spring. And now, coaches can evaluate his abilities based on meaningful game time, rather than just practice performance.  

* Why he won't: A healthy Lunt straight-up beat out Chelf last year. Could it happen again? 


* 2012 stats: 66.9 completion percentage, 1,564 passing yards, 13 passing touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 290 rushing yards, 7 rushing touchdowns

* 2012 summary: What a ride for Walsh. He was first thrust into emergency duty and became the starter when Lunt went down with his knee/ankle injury in September. Then, he played virtually the entire Iowa State game on a fractured kneecap, an injury that was originally believed to be season-ending. But he returned in mid-November and thrived as the change-up, run-throw threat in short-yardage and goal-line situations.  

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