Just when Oklahoma State quarterback J.W. Walsh was starting to get comfortable as the starting quarterback, his season is over just like that.
A day after throwing for 415 yards and running for another 46 yard and a touchdown, OSU head coach Mike Gundy announced Sunday night Walsh was done for the season to everyone's surprise.
“He just has an injury that I don’t think anybody wants to reveal, but he just has an injury with his knee,” Gundy said. “It is not career-threatening or anything, but he is finished for the season.”
No decision has been made on who will start this weekend against TCU, although Gundy indicated he thought it would likely be freshman Wes Lunt who started the first three games of the season before his own knee injury thrust Walsh into the starting role.
Even before Walsh's injury, it was assumed once Lunt was back to 100%, he would regain the starting spot but given Walsh's strong play against Iowa State, nobody can be sure exactly what the Cowboys' plan was going to be the rest of the way.
Gundy had said that Lunt was available to play the past two weeks if needed, but he's yet to see the field again after being knocked out early in OSU's third game of the season. We'll now get to see exactly how ready he is.
If Lunt is still unable to go, third string quarterback, Clint Chelf would be next in line. He had been Brandon Weeden's backup the past two seasons. He saw the most extension action of his career last season in mop up duty against Kansas completing 14 of 21 passes for 206 yards. He's also seen brief action in two games this season completing four of eight pass attempts.
Chelf lost out on the starting job to Lunt during fall camp and to the surprise of some, fell all the way to third string. The good news is that if he is indeed thrown into the fire this week, he knows the offense, probably even better than the Lunt or Walsh. This is his third season playing in the Holgorsen-now-Monken offense.
Walsh's injury apparently happened early in the game against Iowa State but given his performance, it was evident to anybody watching the game.
“It just happened and he was able to play with the pain. I can only say that it was a pretty amazing performance. I would hate to use that term for a guy or a player on my team that is only a freshman, but for him to finish the game the way he did and run the football and never say a word was really a terrific performance," Gundy said.
That's probably a bit of an understatement. He was on a bad wheel and still led the offense to over 600 yards against a very good Cyclone defense. Impressive to say the least.
It's anybody's guess what this means for Oklahoma State the rest of the way. If Lunt is healthy, it's probably business as usual.
He won the job in fall camp because he was the most talented and best suited to run Monken's offense even if he still doesn't yet have the experience factor on his side. Chelf has a few more years under his belt but obviously lacks some of the physical tools possessed by the two freshmen.
Whoever is under center, the schedule certainly isn't going to make things any easier. The Cowboys next five games are against TCU, Kansas State, West Virginia, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma.
The biggest concern for the Pokes is if Lunt truly isn't healthy and ready to go. That would leave OSU dangerously thin at the position. After Lunt' injury earlier in the season, the Cowboys brought back Jase Chilcoat who was a former walk-on and had given up football but was still a student at OSU to be the third string quarterback.
It's obviously too soon to start discussing that scenario, however, since all signs point to Lunt being back in action this week. Not to mention, Walsh's dad said Saturday night that his son's injury could only keep him out a month leaving open the possibility he could be available by season's end.
Whatever the case, it's been a tough go for the Oklahoma State's quarterbacks healthwise through the first season's six games. If Chelf is indeed forced into action this weekend, a word of advice, it might not be a bad idea to throw on a couple knee braces. It might not help, but then again, it couldn't hurt.