STILLWATER — J.W. Walsh stood ready on the sideline at Reliant Stadium, knowing he would enter Oklahoma State's game against Mississippi State at some point, but unsure when exactly that moment would be.
The Cowboy quarterback's chance came on the third possession. By the time the night was over, Walsh had left Houston as OSU's new starter.
But Walsh didn't just win that job Saturday. He started to win it in April and June and August, as the Cowboys moved from spring ball to summer workouts to fall camp.
“Production,” offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said of what gave him confidence Walsh would find success come game time. “Just watching when you're grading the film and you're looking at the practices and the scrimmages, you just really look at production, and he's been very productive for us.”
Walsh has always been lauded for his leadership and toughness — Cowboy coach Mike Gundy said Monday the quarterback is “wired different” because of the way he's always won sprints and stadium runs while going head-to-head with the team's fastest players. Walsh has also always possessed a dual-threat ability that made him a valuable asset to the OSU offense, even when he wasn't starting last season.
What Walsh needed to improve was his arm.
Those mechanic corrections started with former offensive coordinator Todd Monken. But they've gone even further with Yurcich.
Yurcich says he's always thought Walsh's arm was strong enough to run the Cowboys' Air Raid spread system. But the coordinator put the quarterback through specific drills that targeted his base — such as the way he transferred his weight from his back foot to his front foot — along with his upper-body posture and the movement of his left (non-throwing) arm.
All of that has helped create what Walsh believes is a more consistent throwing motion and, thus, better accuracy.
“From day-to-day, week-to-week, you'd look on film, it would be one way and then it would be the other way,” Walsh said of that motion in the past. “That's something we've been trying to work on is keeping it consistent and make it's the same throwing motion every time.”
So while Walsh primarily credits Yurcich for the improvements in his throwing ability, Yurcich gives props to Walsh. After all, the quarterback needed to take what they had tweaked in the spring and keep applying in the summer, both while working with his father, Denton Guyer coach John Walsh, and with the Cowboy receivers during summer workouts.