So Mike Gundy says Clint Chelf gets the start today.
All of you surprised Cowboys fans out there, stand on your heads.
That’s what I thought.
Still, there’s something to glean from Gundy’s statement, which didn’t proclaim Chelf the starter, yet only suggested “he will go out there first.”
And while there’s much thought that Gundy is playing coy, that it’s all just a ploy to somehow create problems for Mississippi State, that Chelf is indeed the starter and J.W. Walsh is bound for his role as a package QB for certain situations… there may actually be more at work here.
I don’t know for sure, we the media have been blocked from watching practice since the early going of last season, but I’ve talked to enough people on the inside to know that Walsh has been very good. Good in the offseason. Good throughout August and in the preparation for this game, with a lot of extra work — remember, his dad is a very successful Texas high school coach — resulting in improvement in the passing game.
Good enough for some to believe that he’s capable of taking over the team.
And there’s a sense that the competition is still very much on. And that today and perhaps the upcoming couple games could serve as the deciding factor in who eventually earns that tag as “starter.”
Now, there are some other factors to consider.
For Gundy, there’s some PR to consider. The head coach has gone out of his way to proclaim Chelf’s importance in the locker room; how his teammates respect and admire him and rally around him. Make no mistake, there’s value in that. And it should not be taken lightly, although Walsh’s leadership has also been lauded in recent months.
And then there’s Chelf’s demeanor. Insiders say that he’s like Brandon Weeden in that he doesn’t shine in practices; that his best bubbles up in games. And there’s plenty of proof toward that thinking, considering he was the easy No. 3 in the quarterback competition of spring 2012, almost an afterthought, yet revealed himself as a solid option when given the opportunity — the game opportunity — a year ago when Walsh and Wes Lunt were hurt.
So let’s see how Chelf performs in the spotlight today.
Chelf will go out there first. He’s earned that.
But Walsh has earned a closer look, too. And he’ll get it.
And that makes for an intriguing game within the game for the Cowboys, today and going forward.