The Oklahoma State Cowboys have terrorized the Big 12 with a prolific offense that could score with almost anyone over the last few years. In 2013, however, that offense is struggling to find its groove and has been fairly pedestrian even as the Cowboys have raced out to a 5-1 record and 2-1 in Big 12 play. On Saturday, Mike Gundy made a switch at quarterback, replacing J.W. Walsh with senior Clint Chelf that gave OSU enough of a spark to beat the TCU Horned Frogs. Can Chelf keep that spark alive for a run at the Big 12 title?
While Chelf was far from explosive or dominant coming on in relief, he was effective. After an interception on his first drive, Chelf rebounded and drove the Cowboys to scoring opportunities on their next five drives (though they only turned two of them into points). Once the senior took over under center, Oklahoma State gained 278 yards on 51 plays (5.45 yards per play) after gaining just 137 yards on 28 plays (4.89 yards per play) with Walsh at the helm. Gundy had minor praise for Chelf following the game, saying: “I thought he managed the game well.”
Chelf is a step back in terms of athleticism from Walsh as he lacks the same running ability but he does provide a better vertical threat in the passing game. His ability to get the ball down the field is what has been missing from the Oklahoma State offense this season. Last year, Chelf was the primary quarterback for the team with Walsh coming in for specific packages. That might be the way that offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich deploys the two going forward depending on matchups and game situations.
Inserting Chelf back into the starting lineup isn’t going to be a magic fix-all for what ails this Oklahoma State offense. He does, however, provide a different dimension with the ability to throw the deep ball. With that throwing ability, he can force defenses to play the entire field and keep defenders back to prevent big plays over the top. That could open things up for the running game while also providing some big passing plays down the field.
With huge matchups against the Oklahoma Sooners, Texas Longhorns, Texas Tech Red Raiders and Baylor Bears still on the schedule, Oklahoma State needs something to spark their stagnant offense. Can Chelf get the job done?