LAWRENCE, Kan. — J.W. Walsh has drawn all sorts of comparisons to Zac Robinson.
That's high praise if we're talking about the Robinson who used his arm and his legs to become one of Oklahoma State's most successful and beloved quarterbacks.
It's bad news if we're talking about the Robinson who hobbled through the final months of his Cowboy career.
“It was just kind of some unfortunate stuff,” Robinson said. “Shoulder. Elbow. Then ankle. Then AC (joint). Then concussion. It was one after another.”
Was it ever.
By the time OSU played the 2009 regular-season finale against Oklahoma and then the Cotton Bowl, Robinson was shot. He struggled to pass it. He struggled to run it.
And the Cowboys scored a grand total of seven points in those games, both losses.
Which brings us to Saturday's game at Kansas.
Expected to start again in place of the injured Wes Lunt, Walsh is sure to shine. The Jayhawks have improved since last year when the Cowboys throttled them, and yet, they still lost to Rice and Northern Illinois earlier this season.
This is sure to be a whoopin'.
Walsh will have a big day, and after a stout showing two weeks ago against Texas, there are bound to be folks who believe he should start even when Lunt returns. Cowboy coaches have insisted, though, that Lunt will be their guy once he's healthy. They are sold on the air-raid offense and believe Lunt is a better fit.
But it's hard to believe they aren't mindful, too, of how Robinson's injuries piled up at the end of his career.
“Is it in the back of their minds?” he said. “I don't know.”
It seems that it is. Cowboy coach Mike Gundy has mentioned Robinson, now a scout team quarterback with the Cincinnati Bengals, and said that he doesn't want any of his quarterbacks to get hit like that again.
“I think maybe it has changed a little bit when they saw how much it can be on a quarterback to take hits week after week,” Robinson said via cell phone as he drove home from practice earlier this week.
Now, don't misunderstand — he didn't mind the hits.
Being able to run gave him another option, made the offense more unpredictable and added stress on the defense. The trade-off was an occasionally shot.
Most of the time, he popped up and played on.
But his senior season, not so much.
“I don't know if I ever got hurt on a designed quarterback run,” Robinson said. “It was more, ‘OK, the play's broken down, we're gonna scramble.'
“I think it was just by chance.”
Regardless of how well Walsh plays Saturday, he will eventually return to the back-up role. Perhaps he'll be used in some special packages. Maybe he'll become OSU's version of Tim Tebow or Blake Bell. But because Robinson got to the most important games of the season in the worst shape of his career, it may be a long time before the Cowboys hitch their wagons to a dual-threat quarterback.
That isn't a chance they're willing to take.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. You can also like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.