LUBBOCK, Texas — Clint Chelf was handed the OSU offense seven quarters ago. And since then, Chelf has completed 39.2 percent of his passes.
The Cowboys are 2-0 with Chelf, but that's a testament to the watered-down Big 12, not the resiliency of the OSU offense.
Now the Cowboys are out here on the South Plains, with a must-win-for-title-contention game against Texas Tech, and OSU apparently will stick with Chelf.
I think it's the wrong move. Chelf's superior arm can stretch defenses. But J.W. Walsh's superior accuracy is more valuable than Chelf's deep balls.
Throwing deep is helpful. Completing short is mandatory.
And Chelf has proven to be an inaccurate passer. In the eight games over two years in which he's served as more than a mopup quarterback, Chelf has completed just 56.3 percent of his passes. Good for the 1980s. Not good for the 2010s.
Of Chelf's 16 misfires at Iowa State, one came on a miscommunication (Chelf's fault), one came when a receiver slipped, two came via dropped passes, one came on a tip at the line of scrimmage, four were well-covered and seven came when receivers were open and Chelf missed them. Often badly.
That can't happen Saturday at 15th-ranked Tech. Doesn't matter if it's Chelf or Walsh. The Red Raiders have used two true freshman quarterbacks, Davis Webb and Baker Mayfield, and both have outplayed Walsh and Chelf, who were productive last season.
And above all, OSU has to complete short passes. No throws at the feet of Tracy Moore on a slant. No crossing patterns behind Josh Stewart.
“I'm with you 100 percent,” OSU offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said.
But Yurcich also made the case for the deep balls. “The shots we are taking down the field, we need to complete those, too,” Yurcich said. “Make sure we're stretching the defensive vertically. It can't just all be little dink and dunk passes underneath. We need to stretch ‘em too.”
No doubt stretching the defense helped Des Roland break out for 219 yards rushing at Iowa State. But the Cyclones are the Big 12's worst rushing defense and one of the nation's worst, ranking 110th.
And after watching Chelf the last two weeks, why would Tech back off the line of scrimmage and open running lanes? More likely, the Red Raiders will dare OSU to pass.
“The passing game's there,” said receiver Charlie Moore. “We have the confidence. We know at any time the passing game can light up.”
That seems to be the theme of this entire OSU season. Surely the passing game will blossom.
It's got a better chance of blossoming with Walsh, even if his .596 completion percentage isn't world class. That's 20 percentage points ahead of what we've seen of Chelf the last two weeks.
OSU is putting its season on the line with a quarterback who can't throw straight. Doesn't seem like a good idea.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. 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.