STILLWATER, Okla. -- Asked about Oklahoma State’s quarterback situation, offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said it best.
“I think it comes to a certain point where you have to make a decision,” Yurcich said. “I don’t know that it was [specifically] this or that. It was just time, I guess.”
Cowboys quarterback Clint Chelf’s time came Saturday. The senior replaced starter J.W. Walsh in the second quarter and helped spur No. 21 Oklahoma State to a 24-10 victory over TCU at Boone Pickens Stadium.
Was Chelf dominant? No. But he was effective. The Enid, Okla., native entered the game and promptly threw an interception. Yet the Cowboys had scoring opportunities on their next five possessions -- thanks in part to two TCU turnovers -- with a field goal, touchdown, turnover on downs in TCU’s red zone and back-to-back missed field goals before halftime.
“We felt like we needed a spark, so we made a change,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said. “Clint gave us some advantages in attacking their defense. Overall, I thought he managed the game well.”
Oklahoma State's offense changed for the better when Chelf entered, though it still didn’t look like the dominant unit that terrorized the Big 12 for the past few seasons. With Chelf in the game, Oklahoma State gained 278 yards on 51 plays, averaging 5.45 yards per play. With Walsh in the game, the Cowboys gained 137 yards on 28 plays, averaging 4.89 yards per play.
Gundy’s decision to go with Chelf could spark the Cowboys offense and have a major impact on the Big 12 title race. Texas Tech, Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma remain on the Cowboys’ schedule, with Oklahoma State sitting at 5-1 overall and 2-1 in conference play.
Gundy wouldn’t commit to a starting quarterback after the game.
“You gotta do what you gotta do,” said receiver Josh Stewart, who was the star of the game with 265 all-purpose yards, including a 95-yard punt return for a touchdown. “Clint came in and did his thing; now we are rolling with Clint.”
While not the runner Walsh is, Chelf brings a different dimension to the Cowboys offense with his passing skills. He has the ability to make opponents defend the width and length of the field and could force Big 12 defenses to prepare for both quarterbacks. Chelf isn’t the savior for Oklahoma State's offensive attack, but he brings more options to the table.
Gundy’s decision to turn to Chelf also sends a message to his team that nobody’s starting spot is safe. It’s about performance and on-field production.
“It’s good when you have quarterbacks battling,” Stewart said. “Right now, Chelf is our guy. He’s playing pretty good, so we’re going to roll with him.”
Last season, the Cowboys started Chelf then used Walsh in special packages at various times late in the season. A dual quarterback attack would make defensive coordinators’ preparation more difficult.
“That’s a possibility,” Yurcich said of playing both Chelf and Walsh. “They’re both good quarterbacks."
But seeing Chelf enter the game and have success was encouraging for Cowboys players as Oklahoma State begins preparations for a game at Iowa State next Saturday.
“Pretty much any guy we go with, we know we can win with,” cornerback Justin Gilbert said.