Spring Football: QBs Are Running And Throwing

Oklahoma State head football coach Mike Gundy, some of his assistant coaches and players met with the media for the second time this spring before going to the practice fields on Wednesday that in some ways signaled the second start to spring practice. The practice was the second in full pads this spring. The Orange-White Spring Game concludes the 15 practices allowed by the NCAA on April 20.

Back in pads meant getting more physical and a natural increase in intensity. There are questions at a number of positions that need answers, and the answers will come in the next two to three weeks.

"There's still a lot of excitement as our staff looks to see some players that really need to help us out next year begin to make a move in the next three of four practices as we finish this week and all of next week," said Gundy in front of the large contingent of microphones, cameras, and reporter notebooks.

"Then the guys are back into the football thought process and you see some of the young players develop from that point in the last six or seven practices of spring."

The practice on Wednesday had all the trappings of a full pad workout with inside drills, lots of work between the offensive and defensive lines, as well as a lengthy team period. Gundy wants to find his most physical football players, increase the physicality of the entire team, and be ready to play as physical as is required to win the Big 12.

"We work at it every day as long as we have pads on, and there are some limitations we have based on the NCAA and how they want practice set up in the spring and we certainly have no problem with that," Gundy explained.

"We don't go to the ground in full scrimmages, we work hard in our team periods and in our other practices making sure we are in good position and we are physical up front."

All three quarterbacks (Clint Chelf, J.W. Walsh and Wes Lunt) participated in the last media session, but only Lunt was there Wednesday. Those three and Arizona transfer Daxx Garman seem to be the quarterbacks that are reportedly getting serious practice reps.

While neither the quarterbacks nor new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich were requested by the media, Gundy was asked several questions about where that position stands a third of the way through the spring.

No one has won the job yet, according to Gundy. But asked whether he wants to continue to see at least some of the quarterbacks continue to run the ball, the head coach's answer came fast and emphatic.

"Our quarterbacks will run the ball based on who is in there. J.W. Walsh will do it because he's really good at it and Clint Chelf is better and more effective at it than you think. Clint runs and doesn't look good doing it, then you look up and he has 12 yards when you thought he had three. So, he's more effective at it," said Gundy, who was partial to former Cowboys quarterback Zac Robinson.

"If Wes Lunt is in, we aren't going to do it a lot. It's not rocket science to figure out that's not what he does. He's more of a Brandon Weeden-type player. We have enough flexibility in our offense to do whatever we need based on who the quarterback is.

"If one guy is in there and he isn't going to run it then we are going to do different things throwing the ball. If other guys are in there that give us more flexibility running the ball but maybe have some limitations throwing the football. I think everyone is aware of what the three quarterbacks bring to the table."

Gundy confirmed that they are looking at some different things with the quarterback run game, and maybe even eventually looking at some of the material that Yurcich used in Pennsylvania.

Yurcich's offense had plenty of eye candy in backfield motion and fakes to get safeties locked into looking at the action behind the line and forget what was happening downfield.

"He did more than we ever did," Gundy said of Yurcich. "They had more plays, more under the center and guys moving around in the backfield. There are a couple plays that we will be experimenting with this spring that Mike Yurcich has brought with him that we would like to look at and how it fits in our system.

"There will not be a time where we risk the simplicity and speed that we play with for extra plays, and I think as long as we keep a handle on that then we will be a good offense."

From the passing standpoint, veteran receivers Tracy Moore and last year's hero Josh Stewart feel the quarterbacks are doing well and have no complaints on the throws.

"They've all improved just from the experience they gained in last year's games," said Moore, who actually caught four touchdown passes in the second game of the season at Arizona, all from then freshman Wes Lunt.

"Clint Chelf was the only one with experience entering last spring, so he's just even more comfortable now. Wes Lunt is getting more comfortable back there, and J.W. Walsh is continuing to develop as a running quarterback. They all have their strengths."

"Not many teams have that situation where any quarterback can come in and make plays," added Stewart, who has beefed up some since carrying such a heavy load as a playmaker last season. "To have that is a real good thing for us receivers.

"We have confidence going in and when you have confidence it's hard to be stopped on offense. Having those quarterbacks is a good deal for us and they are only getting better. They're fighting for a starting spot because no one has it yet. Anything can happen.

"Look at last year, all three of them played. You never know what can happen. They're just working hard and waiting for their moments," added Stewart.

Moore has always been known as a good blocking receiver and said he'll do what is needed to assist.

"I'm going to do my part," said the veteran. "If I can do that, maybe I can make sure they don't have to run the ball as much. That's my focus."

Practice continues for the Cowboys in full pads on Friday with a large group of spectators as the OSU coaching staff host the annual Coach's Clinic, which will go on throughout the day and into the evening.

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