After taking a hard shot and leaving Saturday night's 44-30 loss at Kansas State, Cowboys quarterback Wes Lunt was monitored for concussion-like symptoms, including nausea.
He'll continue to be monitored, yet OSU coach Mike Gundy said Monday that he expects Lunt to return and work on preparations for West Virginia.
“I would expect that Wes would practice this week and that we'd split the reps,” Gundy said of a likely practice time share between Lunt and Clint Chelf. “That's what we did last week. I'm guessing that's what we're going to have to do again this week.”
If Chelf starts, it would mean three different Cowboys will have taken a turn opening games this season. J.W. Walsh started three games before being lost for the season with a knee injury.
KICKING GAME COSTLY
OSU's kickoff coverage has been in the focus of two of the team's three losses this season: Texas and Kansas State.
The Longhorns used D.J. Monroe's 100-yard return in the second quarter to seize a 21-14 lead en route to a 41-36 victory. The Wildcats returned four kickoffs for 199 yards, with Tyler Lockett taking one 100 yards for a TD.
Now to Stillwater comes another superb kick returner — West Virginia's Tavon Austin.
Austin has 16 kickoff returns this season, for a 32.9-yard average, which ranks second in the Big 12, just behind Lockett.
So OSU's Quinn Sharp is on alert — again.
“They're just as dangerous as Kansas State's Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson,” Sharp said. “They have Tavon Austin back there and he's just as fast as those guys, so we have to come prepared and take care of business.”
Sharp has kicked off 59 times this season and produced 47 touchbacks. But two of his 12 non-touchbacks have been returned for touchdowns. Overall, OSU is giving up 33.5 yards per kickoff return, putting them at No. 9 in the league in kickoff coverage.
SHARP A GROZA SEMIFINALIST
Kickoffs are but one aspect of Sharp's job description. He's the Cowboys' punter and field goal kicker, too.
Monday, he was named as one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award, presented annually to college's top kicker.
Sharp leads all kickers at 11.75 points scored per game and also ranks first nationally with 2.25 field goals per game. He's converted 18 of 23 field goals and has made all 40 point-after attempts.
MORE PRAISE FOR CHELF
Chelf replaced Lunt at K-State and played well, completing 16 of 27 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown, with an interception, in less than a half of play.
The third Cowboys quarterback called into meaningful action this season, Chelf's play off the bench was a popular topic when OSU met with the media on Monday.
“Clint's a great player,” said Cowboys receiver Josh Stewart. “I've enjoyed playing with him ever since I got here. He can throw well and he can get out of the pocket.
“We're not worried at all if he's is going to be our starting quarterback for the rest of the season. He'll be fine.”
Said fullback Kye Staley: “Clint was great out there. He was a great leader in the huddle. He kept telling us to never give up, never give up. We all knew that we could have made that game a lot closer than it was and he was the main guy behind that.”
OPPONENT WATCH: WEST VIRGINIA'S THREE-GAME SKID
West Virginia, on the verge of rebounding from back-to-back blowouts by Texas Tech and Kansas State, surrendered a late lead and eventually lost in double overtime Saturday to TCU, falling 39-38.
Afterward, Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen fired away at his offense, targeting virtually everyone on the offense and calling out quarterback Geno Smith by name.
“They whipped us up front,” Holgorsen said. “I though the O-line played bad. The receivers didn't make plays. And Geno was probably as bad as he's been since he's been here.”
By John Helsley and Berry Tramel