There has already been plenty of chatter about the Oklahoma State quarterback competition between Clint Chelf, J.W. Walsh and Wes Lunt that will take place this spring.
Monday afternoon, Chelf and Walsh finally got to chat with the media about the battle for the starting spot. And, of course, both quarterbacks expressed a strong desire to win the job.
“May the best man win, really,” Chelf said. “Whoever is going to give the team the best chance to win, I think that's who the coaches are going to put out there.
“Some of the questions coming in I really I feel like I need to address are leadership and taking charge of this team and showing those guys that they can look towards me and they can follow me. That's what I'm going to try to do.”
Added Walsh: “Words can't explain how excited I am for this. It's something that I've dreamed about as a little kid, and now that it's finally here, I've taken advantage of every opportunity to be able to work, to get film and to just gain some chemistry and some kind of friendship with those guys on and off the field.”
OSU has a policy that does not allow first-year players, such as Lunt, to speak to the media.
NEW SAFETIES COACH VAN MALONE ALREADY MAKING IMPACT
When new OSU safeties coach Van Malone was hired last month, it appeared his coaching philosophy would fit in perfectly with the Cowboys' defensive style that thrives on forcing turnovers.
While at Tulsa, Malone's secondary led the nation in interceptions with 24 and ranked 12th in that category last season with 18. That's clearly already been an emphasis with the OSU safeties, who accounted for only one of the Cowboys' 24 interceptions in 2011.
“Things like that don't just happen,” defensive coordinator Bill Young said of Tulsa's interception totals the last two seasons. “Our safeties, we dropped a lot of passes last year. He told them they need to get on the jug machine, and we have some drills with tennis balls and so forth, trying to improve their hands.
“I think that will really have an impact on them.”
COOPER BASSETT SETTLING IN AT DEFENSIVE END
Cooper Bassett jokingly asked members of the OSU coaching staff shortly after returning from the Fiesta Bowl what position he'd play in 2012.
Tight end? Defensive lineman? Linebacker? Really kidding on the last position, of course.
Bassett has been moved around a lot during his time in Stillwater, beginning his career at tight end before switching to defensive line. But heading into his senior season, he's locked in as a defensive end, where he will compete for the starting job with Nigel Nicholas.
That made the offseason much easier for Bassett because he didn't have to worry about putting on or losing weight — or simply wondering what position he'd play in the fall.
“It was nice, because I didn't have to worry about getting in the film room and learning something new,” Bassett said. “Instead, I could get in the film room and just hone in on the skills I need to work on.
“It was a little stress that I didn't have that I've had in the past. That's going to make my senior year, I think, that much better.”
Bassett tallied 17 tackles (four for loss), one sack, one interception, and one fumble recovery last season. He'll still occasionally move inside as part of the Cowboys' “speed package,” where he'll sometimes drop into coverage.
COWBOYS WON'T SCRIMMAGE LIVE DURING SPRING
Coach Mike Gundy took a slight risk during fall camp last season, opting not to have any full “live scrimmages,” where players are taken all the way to the ground.
For the most part, it paid off, as OSU went 12-1 and stayed relatively healthy throughout the season.
OSU will use the same philosophy this spring, with no tackling during scrimmages.
“I was comfortable with the way it worked,” Gundy said. “Even though we have younger players, I believe that we can have our two or three live scrimmages, but we don't have to tackle all the way to the ground and take shots on players.”
‘THE CHALLENGE' A WINTER CONDITIONING TRADITION
Throughout OSU's winter conditioning program, the Cowboys participated in “The Challenge,” a series of physical activities that test a player's will and builds team chemistry.
Eight captains drafted teams at the beginning of the offseason, which then competed in a tournament in events like the tug of war, tire flipping and an obstacle course.
Quite fittingly, the finals pegged Chelf's team against Walsh's team.
“For a week, we had to listen to them talk,” Chelf said. “They had beaten some good teams and they hadn't lost. We lost the first week, so we had to come back kind of through the depths.
“We listened to them talk, and finally, we came out and we gave it to them. We won. We ended up beating them by 10 I think, which is a pretty big deal. That's not close.”
Gundy also likes the way “The Challenge” allows new walk-ons to make a name for themselves in the spring.
“There's a lot of walk-ons out here that fight through it and they end up whipping scholarship players,” Gundy said. “So everybody kind of wants to know who they are.
“It's like going down to the end of the block and there's a fight and you beat some guy up. Everybody wants to know who that guy is.”