The assumption surrounding Oklahoma State’s quarterback spot has been that J.W. Walsh is the clear starter.
And all indications are that Walsh is getting the bulk of the No. 1 reps in practice.
Yet when asked during Saturday’s Media Day gathering if Walsh, in his first go as the unquestioned starter, could be expected to take off with the job, Cowboys coach Mike Gundy balked a bit.
“Whoever we play most of the time, we hope their play takes off,” Gundy said. “As coaches, we’re responsible for that.”
A “whoa” moment?
Daxx Garman has impressed at times in workouts and true freshman Mason Rudolph was a coveted recruit. Still, Walsh has been considered the frontrunner, since Gundy confirmed as much following the final spring practice.
Gundy’s latest comments, however, suggest a more complicated scenario.
“Our quarterback situation this year is a little different than it has been in the past,” Gundy said. “We vary our style of offense based on who’s in the game. We expect that player and that style to perform at a level where we can move the ball and score points.”
So multiple quarterbacks could play significant roles?
“It’s a very good possibility,” Gundy said.
PETERSON PREPARING TO LEAD
With the loss of 28 seniors and more contributors from a year ago, the Cowboys are in transition on the field. And in the leadership department.
Kevin Peterson said he’s preparing to fill the void.
“I’m just trying to be more of a mentor to guys,” said the junior cornerback. “The team philosophy is ‘You play for the man next to you’. You can’t be selfish and think so much about yourself. So you just really try to make everyone around you better.”
GROGAN GEARED FOR IMPROVEMENT
Kicker Ben Grogan endured an up-and-down freshman season, making 11 of 18 field goals.
He did rally late in the year, converting five of his last six attempts. And he said he’s worked hard in the months since … working out.
“I’ve worked a lot in the weight room,” Grogan said. “Coach (Rob) Glass has got me on a kicking workout. It’s helped me build a lot of strength during the offseason and I’ve gotten a lot better.”
GETTING TO KNOW YOU …
Most years, OSU works 18 to 20 newcomers into preseason workouts.
This year the number is more like 30.
“There’s so many new guys out there, I don’t even know who they are,” Gundy quipped. “I know who they are, but I don’t know who they are in their helmet.
“A couple guys would make plays, and I’d ask, and they’d tell me who they are. I haven’t even figured out the numbers. I’m still trying to learn who’s in each number.”
For Gundy and the Cowboys, who lost 28 seniors off last year’s squad, the turnover is more significant than any season since his early days on the job.
“We’re pretty much back to Base 1, with where we are as a football team in a lot of areas,” Gundy said. “On average over the last four or five years, we’d go into an opener with about 45 players who we felt like had competed and practiced at a high level and played in big games. This year we have 29. So it’s a little different.”
Gundy’s reference to the early years wasn’t, he said, a comparison of talent.
The buzz around camp is that the last two recruiting classes have stocked the roster with much promise.
“We’re just immature,” Gundy said. “We don’t have experience in key positions. We have some talented guys out there. We think they are. They just haven’t played yet.”
CAN HILL PROVIDE HAPPY RETURNS?
The Cowboys will feature several new starters on both sides of the ball.
In the return game, too, where Justin Gilbert and Josh Stewart are gone after providing a combined four touchdowns on kickoff and punt runbacks, respectively.
At least OSU has an exciting option: speedster Tyreek Hill.
The junior college transfer who has already made his mark for OSU in track and field, could play running back and receiver and will be given a chance to add return duties to his skill set.
“We’d love to use him in our return game,” Gundy said. “He’s getting quality reps back there now. We’ll just watch and see how it goes.”
SCENE AND HEARD
The Cowboys held their annual Fan Appreciation Day Saturday, preceding Media Day.
While players had to halt their two-hour autograph session inside Gallagher-Iba Arena to prepare for team photos, Gundy stayed overtime to appease all who were still lined up to get his signature.
Throughout, many fans told the coach that he made the right call, opting to skip an invite to ESPN’s “Car Wash” spotlight in order to join his family in Utah for his son Gunnar’s baseball tournament.
Sophomore receiver Marcell Ateman: “Everybody thinks we’re going to lose to Florida State, but we’re going in guns up.”
Defensive tackle James Castleman: “Everybody here wants to play Florida State.”
Offensive tackle Devin Davis on his return from knee surgery: “It’s baby steps. That’s what it’s going to be until I come back. Just take one day at a time.”
Running back Rennie Childs: “We have a lot of weapons. Great offense. We have a lot of people who bring a lot to plate. A lot of people we’re counting on to step up to the plate.”
Kevin Peterson: “Big 12 champion is always a big goal. We expect to win it.”
Running back Desmond Roland was excused for the weekend to attend his sister’s wedding. … Linebacker Kris Catlin isn’t eligible to play this fall, but is working on the scout team in an effort to help the team and the progress of the young linebackers. … After two days in shorts and helmets, the Cowboys will don shoulder pads for the first time Sunday, which is all that’s allowed at this point under NCAA acclimation process rules. … Linebacker Devante Averette is recovering rapidly form May ACL surgery, yet hasn’t been cleared to practice and is not on the list of 105 players officially in camp. OSU is monitoring his progress, however.