STILLWATER — Football is a copycat game.
One minute, Emory Bellard's inventing the wishbone at Texas, the next minute half of college football has gone to the ‘bone.
Hal Mumme and Mike Leach turn football into Dodgeball at places like Iowa Wesleyan and Valdosta State, and before you know it their offense has spread to both sides of Bedlam.
There's no shame in swiping ideas. The gridiron is a public market. Take whatever intellectual property you can find.
So it's time for OSU to borrow from other brain trusts. Time for OSU to add an auxiliary offense.
The Cowboys are committed to going with true freshman quarterback Wes Lunt, and that's fine. But use J.W. Walsh at quarterback on short-yardage situations and let opposing defenses wonder what's coming next.
Base it off the principles of Arkansas' Wildcat, Kansas State's 21st-century Single Wing, OU's Belldozer, doesn't matter.
Mike Gundy should give his Cowboys a curveball to go with the hard heat of the Air Raid.
“I think that's something they're looking at,” Gundy admitted about his offensive staff. “Comes down to how many reps can you put in with another guy coming in and running a few plays in a game?”
The answer is, other people do it. OSU can, too.
A secondary offense would help the Cowboys on a variety of fronts:
* Relieving pressure. Lunt is going to have enough on his plate as an 18-year-old Big 12 quarterback. Gundy and Todd Monken will try to find ways to alleviate that burden, and what better than goal-line relief?
Plus, defenses can't load up all week against the Lunt offense if it has to spend part of practice worrying about Walsh on the goal line.
* Morale. Using Walsh would keep a talented player involved mentally and physically.
Walsh so far has been the best of soldiers. Recruited during the Zac Robinson era, Walsh committed to OSU 18 days after Dana Holgorsen became offensive coordinator.
The Holgorsen offense exploded beyond anyone's wildest dreams, which really is why Lunt was named the starter.
A classic, dropback passer is the way the Cowboys want to go, and a run/pass threat like Walsh was caught in the right place at the wrong time.
“We want to run our offense,” Gundy said. “What we've done here the last two years here is what we believe in … whether it's these three guys (Lunt, Walsh and Clint Chelf) or whoever would be here six or eight years from now.
“If we have a player that gives us an advantage with a wrinkle or two that may allow him to run the ball some, I would guess our offensive staff would want to implement those plays. But we don't want to go back to running the plays we were running when Zac was here. We don't want to run our quarterback and let him take hits. We have our system in place.”
That leaves Walsh out in the cold – unless the Cowboys resort to ingenuity.
* Strategy. The only downside to the Air Raid is its occasional lack of short-yardage success. Having the quarterback always in the shotgun formation limits options near the goal line.
In the two Brandon Weeden seasons, the Cowboys weren't horrible on the goal line. But they weren't great.
In 2011, OSU scored touchdowns on six of their nine chances when it was third-and-goal from the 1- or 2-yard line.
And the Cowboy offense, which rarely was stopped with a full field in which to maneuver, at times stagnated when the end zone drew nigh.
Quinn Sharp tried 25 field goals last season; 14 were shorter than 30 yards. Only three were longer than 39 yards. Which means the Cowboys bogged down inside the 13-yard line far too much.
“Third-and-short, fourth-and-short, goal line, is there a chance we could have another little package?” Gundy asked. “I think there's a possibility of that, based on what a certain player may bring to the table.”
And in general, OSU's short-yardage success rate could improve. Let's define short-yardage as third or fourth down, with three yards or less to go for a first down.
Through the Kansas game, OSU was 26-of-30, which is outstanding. But in the remaining eight games, OSU was 26-of-42.
The Cowboys were just one of five against Texas, which is the only way the Longhorns kept it close. And the Cowboys were just one of five against Iowa State, which helps explain the Cyclones' overtime upset.
Sometimes, the OSU offense was so good, it was hard to notice. In the 44-10 Bedlam rout, the Cowboys faced only two short-yardage situations. Think about that.
With Weeden, the Cowboys often relied on the pass in short-yardage; they converted 22 of 30 short-yardage situations, 73.3 percent, when passing. OSU was 30 of 42, 71.4, on short-yardage when running the ball.
But in 2012, there will be no Weeden and no Justin Blackmon, and OSU is more likely to resort to brute force or subterfuge than relying on NFL-caliber talent.
Put in Walsh on third-and-short, with an array of run plays, options, draws and rollouts, and defenses won't know what's coming.
If you're going to steal an idea, steal a good one. Playing J.W. Walsh is a good idea.
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.