How Will It Work At Quarterback?

I think we were all a little curious, even those that are around the Oklahoma State football program on a regular basis, how would things work when two dynamic leaders and talented quarterbacks were both healthy and eager to earn the starting job? In past seasons head coach Mike Gundy has let the candidates battle each other through the spring and sometimes through the summer and into fall camp.

This time riding the euphoria and the crest of confidence brought on by late season wins over Bedlam rival Oklahoma and talented defensive bowl opponent Washington and the strong play by just baptized freshman quarterback Mason Rudolph, Gundy named a starter going with the younger Rudolph over the veteran and leader in senior-to-be J.W. Walsh.

If there is a knock on Walsh it is he hasn't been able to stay healthy as a definite dual threat at quarterback. Rudolph is bigger at 6-5 and 235 pounds and so far in a limited sample size of playing time takes hits and keeps in there.

Both have the respect of their teammates.

"When I look in the locker room right now, I'm one of the oldest guys," Walsh said the other day after practice. "I've been around here the longest. I feel like I have that leadership role and the experience on the field and off the field.

"I've been through some injuries. I've been around a lot of things. I feel like I have a lot to show the team and a lot of experience to help them get through. Experience, age and leadership is a big part of my role right now," said Walsh.

Rudolph said, "It's light years different (spring for me this season) and we have John Kolar, a talented young quarterback that is in here, and it is like it was for me with all the offense and your head is spinning. But you get into that second spring like I am now and everything slows down and you try to zero in loaded with so much more knowledge now that comes from this coaching staff. It's great."

Those two comments with both pertaining to leadership show exactly where these two guys are this spring. Walsh has that command of the entire team that comes with leadership over time and age. Rudolph mentions one player in Kolar that he sees himself having a teaching impact with.

Rudolph earned the respect of his teammates by leading the team to wins, but he has a hard time speaking as to how he might lead them. However, the word is that even thought the Cowboys and Rudolph weren't used to huddling when the experimented with it at Baylor and OU and sometimes in the bowl, Rudolph knew how to have huddle presence and make sure the other players knew who was in command in the huddle.

As for that relationship between the two quarterbacks, it couldn't be any better than it is considering you have a younger quarterback named the starter over another quarterback.

"J.W. kind of took me under his wing when I got here," Rudolph said. "He's been a great teacher and a great teammate for me this first year. We are good friends on and off the field, but on the field we are both going to do the best we can for this team. He is always going to support me and I'm always going to support him and be solid for each other whatever our roles are."

"Being able to get along helps tremendously," Walsh added. "At the same time we all have the same goal in mind, a common goal. We want what is best for the team and that is to listen to the coaches and to trust their decisions. We want to help the team the best we can. We're really good friends so that helps a lot to be able to communicate with each other and help each other out."

Even with Rudolph as the starter, Walsh knows he will play. He will have a bigger role than you might imagine because the coaches know what he has done, and know that he is the right guy for sure to stay happy.

"I know those guys (coaches) trust me on the field and they tell me they're going to give me every opportunity to play and that is a good feeling," Walsh said of his yet to be seen special package in the offense. "At the same time whatever the decision is for them is the decision for me and I am going to be on board with it and ready to roll because our team is going to be very successful this year and it's going to take everyone on board for that."

Yes, it is especially with two talented quarterbacks.

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