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Oklahoma State football: Mississippi State won't be surprised

by Berry Tramel Modified: July 26, 2013 at 9:35 am •  Published: July 25, 2013

New OSU offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich was scheduled to play golf Thursday in the Cowboys’ annual media tournament. It’s an annual event in which members of the media play a round with OSU personnel, typically coaches. It’s a chance to get to know each other without tape recorders rolling and ink pens writing.

Then Wednesday, Yurcich canceled. Seems Mike Gundy needed Yurcich in the office on Thursday morning, though Yurcich was freed to come out to Karsten Creek around the lunch hour and hold a press conference.

In all likelihood, Gundy pulled Yurcich’s appearance because Gundy wanted to make sure Yurcich’s lips didn’t loosen. Didn’t offer up a clue in the middle of somebody’s backswing who might start at quarterback on Aug. 31 against Mississippi State in Houston.

We get it. Gundy wants to keep the quarterbacking a secret. Most everyone assumes Clint Chelf will be the starter, with J.W. Walsh the short-yardage and change-of-pace QB, which is how much of the 2012 season went as Gundy and Co. superbly juggled injuries to OSU’s quarterbacks.

If Gundy wants to keep playing espionage, fine. Maybe he thinks it will motivate the two quarterbacks, though he thought otherwise a year ago, when he named Lunt the starter before summer arrived, so the Cowboys could identify their leader. But whatever.

Just don’t go thinking the I’ve-got-a-secret act affects Mississippi State. Name a starter, don’t name a starter. Name Chelf, name Walsh. All of it is irrelevant to Mississippi State. Because of what we saw out of the Cowboys a year ago, Mississippi State absolutely will prepare for both quarterbacks, no matter what is or isn’t said.

The Air Raid offense the Cowboys have embraced since Dana Holgorsen’s hire as offensive coordinator in January 2010? OSU will run that, almost surely with Chelf. The short-yardage stuff with Walsh, who is a nimble runner and a solid passer? OSU will run that, too, else Yurcich and Gundy are asleep at the wheel. The alternative QB plan has proven too effective in both Stillwater and elsewhere for the Cowboys not to use it.

I suppose it’s possible — highly unlikely, but possible — that Walsh will be named the starter in the Air Raid, and he brings a different element, as evidenced by that nifty quarterback draw against Texas last season that swung momentum. But again, Mississippi State is preparing even for that.

That’s the down side to OSU’s remarkable quarterback success in 2012, when all three QBs played extensively and were successful. There are no secrets. Down in Norman, no one has seen Blake Bell run OU’s traditional offense, much less seen Trevor Knight or Kendal Thompson. But everyone has seen Walsh and Chelf run the Cowboy offense.

Individual plays, certain wrinkles, different formations? OK. The Cowboys could spring some of those surprises on their SEC foe. But none of that has anything to do with who exactly is the OSU quarterback.

The Cowboys can’t surprise Mississippi State, unless they start Daxx Garman. Start Chelf or Walsh, and Mississippi State will have done all it can do to prepare.

So Gundy cost Yurcich a beautiful day on the golf course. Not too many July days can you play golf in sub-90 degree weather. We’re usually barbequed when coming off the Karsten Creek course. I don’t know what we even perspired Thursday.

And it’s not like Yurcich is his predecessor, Todd Monken, who is unfiltered. When I interviewed Yurcich a month ago, he was engaging and candid and personable. But he was very careful about the quarterback subject. Gundy has coached him well.

In the press conference, Yurcich said of Chelf and Walsh, “I like them a lot. They’re two good young men, and I can’t wait for them to get back on campus and start training camp, get in the meeting room and start practicing on the field.”

Gundy’s secret is safe. But it’s a secret that doesn’t help the OSU cause.



by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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