STILLWATER — This week's edition of the Oklahoma State depth chart listing Wes Lunt “or” J.W. Walsh as the Cowboys' starting quarterback against No. 12 Texas was expected.
So was Walsh attending Monday's media luncheon and saying he's approaching the week like he will take the first snap against the Longhorns on Saturday night at Boone Pickens Stadium.
But rather than stay quiet about the status of Lunt's left knee injury, which was sustained on the Cowboys' first drive against Louisiana-Lafayette on Sept. 15, coach Mike Gundy leaked info that suggested the freshman quarterback is healing quickly.
Gundy said the cast that has immobilized Lunt's knee for the past week or so would be cut off Monday and replaced by a removable brace. And though Gundy does not expect Lunt to be ready to practice Tuesday, the quarterback could return by the end of the week.
“(The medical staff members) like the way he looked, all the stuff that they think is important,” Gundy said. “I joked with them — I said, ‘Well, you need to get him out there Wednesday or Thursday.' They acted like that there's a chance he could be out there.
“Now, is he going to be full speed? I doubt it. I don't know. But the long-term looks much better than it did when he was lying out there on this field.”
So, is that the Cowboy coach simply being transparent? Or continuing to toy with an opponent by forcing UT to prepare for two very different styles of quarterback?
Probably a bit of both.
Though Gundy still has not released an official diagnosis on Lunt's injury and said following the ULL game that the next update would come when the team's injury report is released Friday, he has not completely shot down questions about it.
Last week, the coach revealed that the injury was not as serious as originally thought, but would not estimate recovery time because it's often difficult to predict how specific bodies will heal. Then came Monday's update. Even the NFL-style weekly injury reports — a new practice at OSU this season — have kept the public informed on the status of players all season.
It's certainly been a different approach than many college coaches, such as USC's Lane Kiffin, who last week ducked out of a post-practice media session when a reporter brought up a player's injury.
“I just felt like I needed to say something,” Gundy said. “Everybody wants to know about the quarterback. It is what it is. I love linemen, but they just don't draw the interest that a quarterback does.”
Gundy also said he doesn't feel sharing information about Lunt's injury will change much of UT's game planning. The coach noted the Longhorns play a lot of man-to-man coverage, which isn't impacted much by the opposing offense's personnel or style of play like teams that play more zone coverage.
“I don't think Texas is concerned one bit,” Gundy said. “…I think they're down there practicing for J.W., because they know that Wes is injured. Could he go out there and play some Saturday? I guess he could.
“But we all have a feel that J.W. is probably going to be the guy that plays the most, unless it's something out of the ordinary. So there's really nothing to hide.”
Still, OSU defensive coordinator Bill Young knows the challenge preparing for two quarterbacks could be for the Longhorn staff. Young said the Cowboys faced a somewhat similar task in game planning for ULL, as starting quarterback Blaine Gautier had left the Ragin' Cajuns' previous game with bruised ribs. But the backup, Terrance Broadway, was the same dual-threat mold as Gautier.
Not so with Lunt, a pocket passer, and Walsh, a run-pass threat.
“That'd be very difficult,” Young said. “J.W. does throw the ball a lot better than people think, so you've got to prepare for the vertical passing game, but you also have the quarterback run game.
“A lot of things that you do defensively, you can't do with a quarterback that's an athlete. I'd have to be careful with some zone blitzes and some things and not having someone assigned to the quarterback.
“Most quarterbacks, they kind of tailor them to the scheme. It's a little bit different here with J.W.”
UT coach Mack Brown also talked about the key differences between defending Lunt and Walsh during his Monday press conference in Austin. But he noted that because they were each part of a quarterback competition, the Longhorns would have prepared for both Lunt and Walsh, anyway.
“It is more difficult,” Brown said. “Because there will be some stunts you would use against a quarterback that's not very mobile that you can't use when you have an option quarterback in there. So it does change a lot of what you're doing.”
Even after Monday's revelations, Walsh is still the likely starter against UT. But what are the chances that Lunt is healthy enough to play?
“It's just hard to say,” Gundy said. “It really is.”