After a rocky start against Mississippi State, Chelf entered against UTSA in the third quarter and came out firing.
He finished 11-of-16 passing for 192 yards and two touchdowns, remaining at the controls when the Roadrunners made a mild rally and the Cowboys needed to press on the gas again.
“It felt good,” Chelf said. “They're a good team. They started to come back and we had to put some of the (starters) back in. I was happy that they let me keep playing with the ones and throw some passes to those guys. It was exciting.
“It feels good to get back out there and play and get back in the rhythm I was in at the end of last year.”
For some of the young receivers not accustomed to that rhythm, like Jhajuan Seales, Brandon Sheperd and Marcell Ateman, Chelf put them on alert.
“I was telling those guys on the sidelines, ‘When I come in, I'm not holding anything back. It's time to go score some touchdowns and throw the ball deep and make plays,'” Chelf said.
“They were on the same page as me and went up and made some plays for me.”
And in a half, Chelf reconfirmed his commitment and his confidence and his capabilities.
“You know, that's a tough week for him,” said Cowboys coach Mike Gundy. “I've said it before, he's very important to our team. He and I had discussions, he talked with (offensive coordinator Mike) Yurcich.
“It's hard. It's difficult. It's difficult for me and it's difficult for him. It will pay great dividends for him at some point. When, I don't know. Maybe 10 years from now.
“He has a very difficult job. We have our own kids and children and you would want them to react the way he has. You don't know if they will. But he's been good. He's done good. He's tough.”
And he's ready. Still.
“I've been through everything before,” Chelf said. ““I've just got to keep focused and determined and know that I'm one play away.”