Will Wes Lunt play Saturday against Iowa State? Or will OSU stick with J.W. Walsh?
Mike Gundy's not saying, for strategic reasons. Keeping your quarterback situation a mystery is a subtle advantage for a football team.
And Kansas promises to play two quarterbacks against the Sooners on Saturday night. Charlie Weis says he will use both Dayne Crist and Michael Cummings.
Making a defense prepare for two quarterbacks, when their skill set is diverse, cuts into practice-time effectiveness.
“It causes issues, no question,” said OSU defensive coordinator Bill Young. “If you didn't know who the quarterback was, if you didn't know the style of offense you're getting ready to see, it would handicap you.”
The OSU offense under Lunt is different from the OSU offense under Walsh.
Walsh can't fire a 30-yard missile on a sideline pattern; Lunt can, as we've seen despite him playing only about five quarters this season.
But Lunt can't tuck the ball and haul out for a 50-yard run, like Walsh did against Texas. Lunt would need a golf cart and police escort to gain 50 yards on the ground.
So the defensive preparation for each is different. The Cyclones are having to game plan for the quarterback run threat and the deep pass, even though they are likely to see only one of those weapons Saturday.
“You get X number of plays a day in a team setting against a demonstration squad,” Gundy said. “There has to be a segment of who potentially could play and who they think will play.”
Most of my colleagues think Lunt returns Saturday. I sort of think it still will be Walsh. Which just goes to show the uncertainty.
Gundy, enjoying his place in this game of poker, revealed no clues on which QB he will play but said he would guess that Iowa State would prepare mostly for Walsh. More mind games for fans, media and Paul Rhoads' Iowa State staff.
Meanwhile, KU brings to Norman a 6-foot-4, 235-pound senior quarterback, Crist, who runs only on duress, and a 5-foot-10, 200-pound redshirt freshman who is labeled a dual-threat.
Weis inserted Cummings in the second half against OSU last week, and Cummings directed two touchdown drives to get the Jayhawks close.
“When they put the other quarterback in, you have to defend the option and zone reads,” Young said. “It's a different game, no question.”
Not that Bob Stoops is admitting it.
“They're not that much different,” Stoops said. “I don't see that. When he (Cummings) went in the game the other day, it wasn't that much different. We don't look at it as that much of a big deal at all.
“They'd have to be drastically different. If you've got Jamelle Holieway and Troy Aikman, then you'd have to prepare two different practices.”
OK. If Stoops' point is that Kansas is bringing neither John Hadl nor Nolan Cromwell to Owen Field, I agree.
Plus, Stoops says if Cummings wants to take off and run some, fine. The Sooners have seen it before. They've played against quarterbacks as diverse as Collin Klein and Seth Doege already.
For example, Stoops said, Texas ran the zone read (an option out of the shotgun formation) last Saturday, a play the Sooners had not seen on Longhorn film. Yet free safety Tony Jefferson smothered David Ash for a four-yard loss.
So maybe Stoops' point is, good solid defensive fundamentals and instinct trump subterfuge.
But teams don't play good solid defense every Saturday, or at least every play, and sometimes games come down to a play or two. OU-Kansas won't, but OSU-Iowa State very well could, and any little advantage on those pivotal plays help.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.