Todd Monken: QB Decision Won't Be Easy

Todd Monken said his job is really tough now. The Oklahoma State offensive coordinator knew who he had to work with before the Cowboys experienced a series of injuries at quarterback. But Monken has watched the baton passed from one signal caller to the next throughout the season.

Original starter and true freshman Wes Lunt exercised his strong arm in the first two games, but in the third game with Louisiana suffered a knee injury on the sixth play of the game.

On came redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh, who handled the UL win, was outstanding in the loss to Texas, and quarterbacked wins over Kansas and Iowa State. He actually played the Iowa State game, most of it, with a fracture.

That led back to Lunt, who quarterbacked the win over TCU before leaving the Kansas State game in the third quarter with a suspected concussion.

Next was Clint Chelf, who played well in finishing the K-State loss and guided the Cowboys to an important win on Saturday over West Virginia. Now all three appear to be cleared medically and ready to go.

The decision this week is not by force of injury, but like last spring by choice of the coaching staff.

"We'll have to look at it and decide who gives us the best chance to win," said Monken. "They were all available the other night, but available and medically cleared is different from being able to function, practice, be accurate with your throws and give us a chance to win.

"They'll all be cleared this week, so we'll just go from there. We have three guys who are capable of winning, so we'll just assess it as the week goes," Monken added.

Monken is getting lots of credit for keeping the offense together and in gear. Both running back Joseph Randle, a 1,000-yard plus rusher for the second season in a row, and Josh Stewart, who is the Big 12's Offensive Player of the Week for his 13 catches for 172 yards and 46-yard reverse for a touchdown against West Virginia, gave Monken credit for handling the quarterback revolving door.

"It says a lot about the guys we have," Monken said meaning the quarterbacks and supporting cast. "I think our guys have played well around them. I think it's a credit to those kids. They're talented. If they didn't have the talent, you can't win.

"It's not like you can pull someone off the street and decide to play them. There is a limit to that. We have talented guys who believe in what we do. Our guys buy into that."

This week they will need to buy into doing a job on the top overall defense in the Big 12. In conference play, the Red Raiders are tops in total defense -- allowing 324.6 yards per game and 4.9 yards per play. In scoring defense, the Raiders are sixth allowing 27.1 points per game.

Either way they are better than the group OSU toyed with in winning 66-6 in Lubbock. The Cowboys aren't the same either.

"Last year they had a bunch of guys injured. I think they moved a receiver to corner and he was playing. They were in a tough spot," Monken explained. "They were trying to fill some holes, and they kind of switched up on defense in our game. You go through that. You go through times when you're trying to figure stuff out.

"They're obviously structured differently. They have two or three different guys on defense. The way they line up and approach it is different. They're playing hard. The thing about playing against spread teams is you have to play consistently sound and not give up big plays. When you do that, you give yourself a chance and that's what they're doing."

You can consider the Stewart and Monken relationship a mutual admiration society. Monken is impressed with how Stewart is advancing. He now has 69 receptions on the season for 838 yards and ranks fourth in the Big 12 in receptions and receiving yards.

"I think Josh has played well all year, but sometimes the ball comes your way more often and you have a chance to make those kind-of-plays, and obviously he did when they afforded themselves Saturday," Monken concluded.

"He's progressed as a route runner. That's where you'll see it the most. He's always been a good athlete--a good space player. That hasn't changed. A lot of guys are athletes. What you're trying to do is get your guys to be good route runners and receivers."

With all the young Cowboys pass catchers that is a chore they have constantly been working on with the receivers and the now healthy trio of quarterbacks.

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