OSU roundtable: Will J.W. Walsh be a big part of the Cowboy offense?

Four questions for three writers, previewing the upcoming Oklahoma State football season.
by Jenni Carlson and John Helsley and Gina Mizell Modified: July 24, 2013 at 6:13 pm •  Published: July 24, 2013

Carlson - Offensive consistency. That might sound crazy considering the Cowboys have a new coordinator, have yet to name a starting quarterback and lost their feature tailback. But the consistency is in the system. No matter who's running it -- whether on the sidelines or on the field -- the system produces. And with two very capable returning quarterbacks, it feels like a foregone conclusion that the Cowboys will score a bunch this season. No other team in the league with a returning starter has near as much certainty.

3. True or false: J.W. Walsh gets at least 20 percent of the snaps this season.

Mizell - Barring an injury to Chelf, false. But barely false. I think he'll get about 10-15 snaps a game out of the short-yardage and goal-line package that will likely expand a bit more this season. But this won't be a two-quarterback system.

Helsley -  True. Walsh is a winner and a quality quarterback. AND he has a unique skill set withing that, built around his running abilities, which provides a valuable wild card. So the Cowboys will utilize the Walsh Package to change the pace of a game and give defenses multiple concerns to deal with during their work week of preparation. Truth is, 20 percent might not be high enough.

Carlson - True. No question it'll be more than 20 percent. We know that Mike Yurcich likes mobile quarterbacks, so there is little doubt in my mind that the new offensive coordinator will have plenty of packages for Walsh. My gut says we'll see him in all sorts of situations. On the goal line. For entire series. Frankly, I could see him playing as much as a third of the snaps this season.

4. Is this the best OSU defense of Mike Gundy's tenure?

Mizell - I believe so. The Cowboys have key seniors at all three levels: Calvin Barnett and Tyler Johnson on the line, Shaun Lewis and Caleb Lavey at linebacker and Justin Gilbert and Daytawion Lowe in the secondary. Barnett's impact in the trenches is obvious. A guy like Lyndell Johnson is a difference-maker because of his lateral range and big-play ability. There's more speed and athleticism all over the field, and several positions have developed quality depth. Now, very similar things were said about last year's unit, and those words obviously didn't turn into results. But I think Glenn Spencer's more aggressive philosophy should make a big difference.

Helsley - TBD. Not willing to go there, yet, without some game data to support it. Fool me once, you know? Now, it is the most talented defense of the Gundy era. There are athletes everywhere, part of the annual upgrade of the OSU roster. There is speed and athleticism, bulk up front, experience at linebacker, potential stars in the secondary... The Cowboys just need their players to play to their expectations. That's when we'll know how good the defense is, or isn't.

Carlson - I'm not ready to go that far. This defense has a lot of potential, but until these guys prove it on Saturdays, you'd have to say the 2011 defense was the best of the Gundy Era. Look at all the turnovers that it caused. That wasn't a one- or two-week phenomenon. That defense did it all year. Until this year's defense comes out and shows what it can do, I can't put its potential above 2011's production.

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