Spring Review: Quarterback Silence

Now comes the long wait for Oklahoma State football fans. It is from the conclusion of spring practice each April until the first fall practice in August that college football takes its longest break. But it's also an important time for teams. "It's really from this time until August that determines just how good we will be," said head coach Mike Gundy after Saturday's Spring Football Finale.

"It comes down to how hard our guys want to work during this time, and I feel good about our team and where they are. We need to stay focused and avoid distractions especially off the field. The teams that do that are the ones that give themselves the best chance for success in the fall," said Gundy on the postgame radio broadcast following Saturday's finale.

Gundy should feel pretty good following a spring that combined healthy doses of returning experience and leadership with a sizeable helping of young players needing to advance and mature and more change in the coaching staff than Gundy has seen in one offseason since he arrived.

The Cowboys came out looking pretty solid and with a lot of optimism and potential to make 2013 another special season.

There will be the old school traditionalist members of the media that can't write down any school on the top line of a preseason Big 12 prediction other than Oklahoma or Texas. But the majority of the open-minded members of the media covering the Big 12 will likely write down Oklahoma State, TCU, or both on the top line this late spring and summer when casting their ballots.

As we expected, the Oklahoma State Spring Football Finale gave Cowboys fans a glimpse of what went on during the spring, but not the entire picture. Here is our review of where we see the Pokes sitting in idle but revving the engines for the season opener on August 31 against Mississippi State in Reliant Stadium.

The changes in the coaching staff worked well and the staff seemed to form up and get together for a strong working relationship in a hurry.

On defense, it was a huge bonus that Gundy was able to add to his staff Joe Bob Clements, who came from Kansas State and was added before the end of recruiting. Newly promoted defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer and Clements formed a fast bond, and Clements made a solid late contribution in recruiting along with former Spencer pupil Eric Henderson, who came in as a defensive line graduate assistant.

The late departure of Jason Jones allowed Gundy and Spencer to execute a move that may really pay off. Van Malone, who had done a good job with the safeties, moved to the corners and had an impact with them. Malone is a really effective on the field instructor with a lot of passion. The entire defensive staff carries that passion and it is evident in practice.

Tim Duffie was added after the first spring practice to coach safeties. He blended in as well as you can coming in after spring starts, and it helped that he had Daytawion Lowe, a very veteran free safety in the room and on the field.

New offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich is going to be really good. Not as intense or emotional from an outward standpoint as his predecessors, he certainly is internally. His players know that football means a lot to him and he takes a lot of pride in his craft.

He also likes to go very fast. The spring game was an example. With Yurcich as eyes in the booth, it allows Kasey Dunn and Jemal Singleton to call the plays on the field. It went fast on Saturday but not quite the breakneck speed in scrimmages and team periods during spring practice.

Dunn has taken the lead on receivers with younger assistant Jason Ray providing energy, while Jemal Singleton is a strong teacher for the running backs.

The spring game was not a reflection as injuries and lack of numbers in the spring can quickly water down an offensive line, but just remember that Joe Wickline is one of the best at what he does in all of football, college or NFL. Be glad he is at Oklahoma State.

Quarterback Situation
Every time we discuss quarterback I get that strong sensation of "been there, done that." I realize that I am repeating myself and maybe that is why Gundy has decided to have the entire staff quit talking quarterbacks and put the quarterbacks in media quarantine for the summer and until after the game with Mississippi State.

"We've got our guys in the position where we want them, and they're all working hard and having really good springs," said Gundy after the spring football game. "All three are better. We're fortunate to have three, and we'll continue working with them in the way we feel gives us the best chance for success until the first game.

"We really won't talk about the quarterback situation from this point on. There's really no reason to talk about what our quarterback situation is. We've been very open about it through the spring, but I don't know if there's anything else we can say other than we're fortunate to have three that are really good."

It's unfortunate that the media won't get to talk to the quarterbacks because just like in their play and their attributes they are some of the best interviews on the team even though they vary in style there as well.

Where Gundy is right is that he knows the media can't help itself, especially certain outlets. They are not part of the program and aren't necessarily interested in whether the program has success. I'll be the first to admit here at Go Pokes, and with me individually, I am emotionally tied in. However, you still have to be realistic and do your job.

The outside media wants to press on who will start. They are wanting to know why they will start? What is the outcome or role for the two quarterbacks that don't start?

But Gundy and his staff are more concerned about developing a plan that maximizes the quarterback situation and the talents and abilities or all three. The desires of the media could drive a wedge in what is an unbelievable, and maybe first of its kind, quarterback situation.

The needs of the program are to maximize all summer the leadership abilities, physical abilities and the confidence the team has in Clint Chelf, J.W. Walsh and Wes Lunt. Not that we need to review again, but all three won multiple games last season, all three threw for more than 1,000 yards, for four touchdowns in a game, and threw for 333 yards or more in a single game.

You top it off with the fact they really like each other, are good friends and they work well in helping each other.

"I don't really think there is much of a difference," said Walsh, when asked how things have changed from the spring of 2012 when they battled for the starting job. "We're all trying to do the best thing for the team and prepare as best we can and help each other out.

"Like you saw last year, you never know what's going to happen and all three of us have to be ready to hit the field. I think right now we're just making sure we're taking care of the team and everyone's ready as part of the team."

The only thing that has changed is that last spring Oklahoma State did not have a returning starting quarterback and now the Cowobys have three.

There's no need to name a stater this time because you can use the impact of three players that all have experience, talent and the respect of the team. Let them lead all summer and let them compete and push to sharpen each other right up until the final preparation for the season opener.

At that time you will have to make decisions, but not any that would automatically exclude any of them from being involved. Remember, it is a very unique situation where Gundy and Yurcich could rewrite what football teams can do with multiple experienced and talented quarterbacks. Although, I would not expect to see the plays you saw from the White team in the spring game with Walsh and Lunt on the field at the same time.

"Those guys come up with some plays for the spring game, and that was the first time I had seen that myself," said Gundy after the 17-7 win by the Orange team. "They had a lot of fun with it."

Next: We will look at the rest of the Cowboys offense and who will emerge as the top targets in the passing offense.

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