Is There a QB Problem In Stillwater?

Kyle Porter —  November 5, 2012 — 47 Comments
luntwalsh 2

Photo Attribution: US Presswire

I had dinner with David Ubben and Travis Haney this spring at a little burger joint in Dallas. Conversation inevitably turned to the OSU quarterback situation which was still in flux at that point.

I told both of them it was going to be Lunt and they both thought I was crazy (Haney more than Ubben…just for the record).

There were two reasons I thought this:

1. Everybody was gushing about his arm strength and arm strength is, you know, a good quality to have in this offense.
2. All things being equal, you should pick the youngest guy with the highest ceiling.

Before we go any further, let’s establish a premise for OSU fans.

Can we all agree that as a program we want to be a Big 12 title favorite every third or fourth year and pretty competitive the other two or three? To me that’s pretty much the goal and I think it provides a good framework for us to look at what’s going on with the quarterback situation.

Monken and Gundy settled on Lunt (and not Walsh), not necessarily because he gives OSU the best chance to win this year (I think they both give us about the same chance at the same number of wins), but because they want to be playing for conference titles in 2014 and 2015.

As fans, you (we) have to understand that for Lunt to improve and to move towards his ridiculously high ceiling, he has to go through games like this one and the one in Tuscon. He has to run the gauntlet before he can wear the crown.

Now the problem for fans is that both Weeden and Zac came in and played up to their full potential right away. Neither changed much over the course of his career so that’s what we expect from the new guys too.

And it’s what we got from Walsh. The Iowa State and Texas games are who Walsh is. His skill set isn’t something he can really build on — he’s going to go out, run around like a maniac, and make some terrific plays.

This is fine if you want to go 8-4 every season with the occasional 9-3 sprinkled in.

But I don’t think that’s the point anymore.

Lunt is somebody who’s going to take you to 8-4, then 9-3, then you get a pair of shots at 10-2 with him at the helm his last two years.

This might seem bad right now because Walsh looks better doing it the first year (not as many picks) but I don’t think OSU’s record would be any better with Walsh starting all 13 games this season than with Lunt. And I definitely don’t think you get any shots at the Big 12 title down the road with Walsh1.

If you’re a Walsh guy your argument could easily be “but we don’t know if Lunt’s ceiling is even that high.” My rebuttal to that is 1) his throws and performance are (at times) ridiculous, the problem is his decision making which inevitably evolves over time and 2) I trust Monken’s initial decision.

The biggest issue right now is that Lunt isn’t able to grow up and improve his decision making skills in Big 12 games because he can’t stay healthy2. So instead of setting a strong foundation during his freshman season you’re left with a few pieces here and there that don’t really add up to anything substantial.

Because of that you might see another QB competition next spring.

Unless we find a way to get Chelf3 another year because…I mean that second half against Kansas State, right?!

Editor’s note: see the comment @carsonc5 makes in the comments below. I wish I would have included it in my post.

  1. We never did with Zac.
  2. If we want to talk about him being injury-prone then I’ll listen to that argument — missed all or part of 10 of his last 22 games due to injury.
  3. Can we please stop with the Chelf = Weeden because he’s third string nonsense. I like Chelf, I think he gives a crap and did a great job at KSU, but he’s not going in the first round of next year’s or any other year’s draft.
  • TJ

    Let’s not forget how many times we heard Gundy proclaim during the Spring “we’ll go with the QB that gives us the best chance to win – we owe that to our seniors”. This is the second time we have seen him ignore his own philosophy. The first was not replacing an obviously injured Zac with Weeden during the last two games of his career and now again by sitting Chelf the entire season. Anyone with eyes saw that he has by far the best command of our offense at this point. IT LOOKED LIKE OSU FROM LAST YEAR WHILE HE WAS PLAYING! Quit playing guys for development and play them for wins!

    • http://gravatar.com/lancesmithdesign Lance Smith

      K-Sate was in prevent the entire time Chelf was in the game. Any of our quarterbacks would have had success against that.

      • http://www.pistolsfiringblog.com Kyle Porter

        Agreed.

        • FredA

          Isn’t it harder to throw completions when the opposition is in prevent. (With the secondary and linebackers hanging back?)

          • BostonPoke

            Ever seen our prevent defense from Bill Young? Its easy to make throws against prevent defense because there’ll be very little pressure on QB and DBs cannot cover WRs forever.

    • orangestateofmind

      Amen Brother!

      • orangestateofmind

        Amen was in response to Gundy playing an injured Robinson. Also coaches can make mistakes in evaluating talent, cate over weeden anyone?

        I also agree with the comment that Chelf had success due to the K-state prevent D

  • Melicia

    I’m not sold on Lunt’s ability to lead the team. Let us not forget the year 2000, I believe, when a OU quarterback Josh Heuple let a struggling OU team to the national championship because of his leadership skills and good decision making rather than his raw abilities or talent. Oddly OU has had way more athletic quarterbacks since then…and still haven’t won a championship with them. I am an OState fan, not an OU fan, but I think you can take a kid like Walsh and win conference and national championships with them, because for them it is about toughness and the team. We certainly haven’t seen toughness with Lunt, as he seems to be injury prone. I would only have high hopes for Chelf as he seems to be what we are going to end up with this season as Walsh is out, and Lunt keeps getting hurt. I was encouraged to see him perform well at the end of the KSU game…but I also realize that is a lot easier to do when there is no real expectation of pulling out the game, or coming into it to win to begin with.

    • Scott

      i’m pretty OU wouldn’t have had a sniff at the championship game without a ridiculous defense – which they had.

  • Ryan

    How about this – instead of crafting arguments why Lunt won’t be benched no matter how many mistakes he makes, why don’t we just get through this season with whoever makes enough plays, then observe the 4-way QB battle that’s going to take place next spring? There’s no reason to think it won’t close battle, once again.

    Also, re: footnote #3 – no one, anywhere, is saying that.

    • http://gravatar.com/rwhetsell62 @mfc_crff

      Ummmmm….well, I sorta kinda did at the end of this post…
      http://www.cowboysrideforfree.com/2012/11/4/3598000/full-recap-kansas-state-44-oklahoma-state-30

      Here’s the exact text…

      “And speaking of Chelf, here’s my crazy theory…

      Gundy may have pulled a double Cate in 2012.

      Remember when the coaches spoke eloquently about how Weeden never showed them anything in practice that would have indicated what he was about to accomplish?

      Enter Clint Chelf, with TWO years of tutelage under the greatest QB to ever play at OSU. His high school coach talked about how he didn’t seem to have “it,” but when he got in the game he was a different person. Remember the rumored tantrum he had in Monken’s office after the game in Lawrence? This guy has fire in his belly.

      This, of course, is pure speculation, and is dependent upon his performance the rest of this season. Maybe we’ll see why they didn’t pick Chelf to start…or maybe we’ll see that Weeden Jr was actually once again loitering in 3rd string purgatory.”

      I agree that Kansas State was in the “keep everything in front of us” defense, but they were in that for most of the game after the Hayes TD.

      And while Chelf looked pretty good, he did throw a couple of balls that should have been intercepted prior to the last one intended for Jackson.

  • Jason

    Doesn’t Chelf have another year left?

    • http://gravatar.com/rwhetsell62 @mfc_crff

      Yes.

  • http://gravatar.com/rwhetsell62 @mfc_crff

    Chelf definitely doesn’t equal Weeden…but it is an interesting correlation…

  • http://twitter.com/CarsonC5 Carson Cunningham (@CarsonC5)

    You can teach decision making. You can’t teach arm strength. It’s really as simple as that. You’re essentially choosing between a Zac or a Weeden. Easy call.

    • http://gravatar.com/rwhetsell62 @mfc_crff

      Seems to me like Chelf is a little bit of both…better arm than Zac…better legs than Weeden. He’s not a true dual threat guy, but he can scramble effectively like we saw against Kansas State.

      I agree with you that you can’t teach arm strength, but teaching decision making is pretty difficult because you first need a subject that is “wired” for it. Some people just have poor judgement no matter the teaching or experience.

  • OSU-Bill

    Why must we assume that Lunt must play in games as a true freshman to develop? Weeden sure as hell didn’t need do it, as he was mired in the #3 spot until the fateful Colorado game. It’s well established that the coaches just weren’t impressed with Weeden as a freshman and for all but the last game of his sophomore year (I assume his arm looked great in practice). The fact is that Weeden was a gamer with an outstanding arm. The question is whether that developed while he was sitting on the bench or whether he had that from day one?

  • KS1010

    Any chance that maybe Chelf is just a “gamer” just like Weeden? Clearly the kid came in trying to win the game and found ways to move the ball. I feel like he is a hybrid between Lunt and Walsh, with about 80% the arm of Lunt and 80% the mobility of Walsh. He’s not outstanding at either skill set, but pretty good at both of them. Maybe the 80/75 combo (pass/run ability speaking in NCAA football skill rating language)is a pretty good mix as opposed to like 90/30 you get with Lunt or 60/90 you get with Walsh? Just a though but my guess is we’re going to get to see how Chelf works out the next two weeks at least…

  • KS1010

    Actually I have a question here…What would everyone give our 3 QB’s “ratings” out of a max 100 under the following 3 criteria:

    Pass Ability/Run Ability/Decision Making

    I go with the following:
    Lunt-90/30/60
    Walsh-60/85/50
    Chelf-80/80/70??

    • orangestateofmind

      Walsh has a higher completion % than Lunt. Of course Lunt has a better deep ball but we still put up decent numbers with Walsh in the game.

    • Scott

      i think your decision making numbers are off. walsh has the lowest? And chelf has higher than Lunt based on what? Chelf still threw a pick (and should have been picked off before that). I’m on board with your passing/running ability #s

    • @realchriswagner

      You forgot another important “rating” to put in: Upside

      Lunt- 100
      Walsh – 50
      Chelf – 0

      Chelf is an experienced, serviceable backup, nothing more.

  • Mike

    “1) his throws and performance are (at times) ridiculous,”

    Exactly when has Lunt’s performance been ridiculous? He clearly has a strong arm and he’s been pretty good at times and really bad at other times, but I’ve yet to see anything that I would call ridiculous.

  • orangestateofmind

    Kyle, I don’t understand why you are so quick to downgrade Walsh? Was he not a highly touted high school QB? Does he have better stats than Lunt on a per game basis? Has he not shown incredible toughness to play the entire Iowa State game? How many times have we seen him throw a pass to the wrong color jersey for a pick six?

    There is more than one way for a QB to play to win a game, we don’t necessarily need Weeden stats every game, and its unfair to compare everyone on the roster to Weeds. Football is the ultimate team game, we just need someone who can keep the Holg/Gundy/Monk train rolling and not take us off the tracks with turnovers. Take a look at the BCS Champ QB’s, are all of them great NFL style passing guys?

    Young
    Leak
    Flynn
    Tebow
    Mcelroy
    Newton
    McCarron

    • Scott

      OSoM – i think the point is, Lunt has a much higher ceiling than Walsh – not that Walsh is worthless. Walsh can’t make throws to the sideline (that’s important in this offense). And his throws over the middle are often behind the receivers. But he makes good throws too – i love me some Walsh – that kid is exciting to watch. And he’s tough as hell. But Lunt is the future. Give the kid some time, he should have still been in high school 5 months ago.

    • Sean

      No they are not, but all of those teams had different offensive styles than we do. They had top level defenses. If we want to win a National Title, we either need to be able to recruit like those teams above or use a system that lets us get it done with what we can recruit. OSU would have won nothing last year with any of those QBs listed above.

  • Bobby Reid, Al Pena, Aso Pogi, Tone Jones, & Chris Chaloupka,

    Since when is it a “problem” to have three guys that can all play? My hat is off to all three of them and it speaks to the talent level we have in our program. Put the guy in who is 100% healthy and lets go beat someobody.

    • Scott

      ha… love the list of names. tony lindsay anyone? his rollout and drive it into the dirt 10yds in front of him will haunt me forever

  • Mark

    Personally I’m not ready to compare any of our qbs to Weeden until I see one of them finally throw a catchable fade ball in the end zone ;-)

  • KS1010

    I guess I just disregard Walsh’s decisions because I feel like the “who do I throw to on this play” decisions are made simple with him at the helm. AKA more play action with only like 2 receivers running routes vs. more 4 or 5 receiver spreads with Lunt.

  • OSUaggie

    At this point, I consider us blessed to have three kids capable of stepping in to run the show. Not that we’d all love to have a true freshman show up as a Weeden clone, but at the first of the season we all *KNEW* that this kid needed seasoning and a lot of comments about how great the future looked….it still looks great. He still looks like an 18 year old kid out there; needs a little more mass on that frame and we need to allow him to grow into this role a bit more; he seems a little frail right now. yeah, he had a crappy game, against a team that has a good shot of contenting for the NC with basically none of the starting WR we started the season with….. I say let Chelf take a helm for a while; a little bit of game manager sounds good when your #1 and #2 are walking wounded, let our running game beat the crap out of WVU…..I still think we need to get a shock collar on Justin Gilbert that goes off anytime he gets more than 3 yards off the line of scrimmage before the snap….

    • orangestateofmind

      hahaha, all good points. Let’s finish this year up strong and try and pull a shocker down in Norman

  • Ryan

    Everyone that’s citing “arm strength” as the ultimate argument-ender…

    That’s literally the only *measurable* that Lunt wins out on, over the other 2. People say his “ceiling” is higher – that’s merely your hope. You don’t really know, until you’ve seen more game reps. He may keep throwing a bunch of picks, even when healthy. He may not.

    I could perhaps buy the argument that Chelf may not get much better than he already is. But to say that a guy like Walsh is already capped out is just silly. If Lunt can improve his decision-making and accuracy, then so can Walsh (and Chelf too, for that matter).

    My point is this – there’s probably going to be a 4-way, start-from-zero, QB competition next spring. Unless Lunt sets the world on fire in the final 4 games.

    • http://www.pistolsfiringblog.com Kyle Porter

      Unless Walsh spends the offseason getting an arm transplant, I feel like he’s tapping on his ceiling.

      As for the arm-strength argument – I’m using Monken’s quotes after the games Walsh started about how the playbook wasn’t really open and he felt constrained by what he could call etc. etc.

      • Ryan

        Honest question – would Walsh’s lack of arm strength cost us wins? He doesn’t have the distance or the zip that Lunt does, but it can be worked with. Zac didn’t have it either. And the ability to scramble isn’t meaningless.

        I get that we all want a QB that resembles what we had with Weeden, I’m just saying I don’t feel like we have to force this *right now*. Lunt has had some positive moments, but he’s also thrown 7 picks and been hurt twice in 2.5 games. Maybe this isn’t his year to blow up. Play Lunt or Chelf or both for the remainder of the year, get to a bowl, and let’s start fresh in the spring. All of the QBs have areas for improvement.

        (As for Monk’s comments, I understand he might feel frustrated about playing Walsh, but really, I don’t want to hear about it. Make it work. Don’t tell me you’ve never considered the possibility of gameplanning for your #2 QB.)

      • Orange99

        So, is an “arm transplant” the reason Colin Klein is now a Heisman frontrunner?
        or are there other factors in play here? maybe toughness, mobility, and leadership? Qualities Walsh has and Lunt doesn’t…

  • orangestateofmind

    QB Jr Year: 161 completions-281 attempts; 1918 yds; 57.3% completion; 13TD 6INT
    QB Sr Year: 133 completions-187 attempts; 1875 yds; 71.1% completion; 12TD 2INT

    QB?

    Collin Klein, those senior stats are through 9 games. I don’t think he has NFL arm strength and I don’t think he can drop 60 yd bombs in a receivers lap.

    Walsh Fr Year: 102 completions-154 attempts; 1467 yds; 66.2% completion; 10TD 3INT

    I’m just trying to say we don’t know what Walsh’s ceiling is, he could improve, he could throw lame duck Int’s, who knows? There is more than one way to score points besides having a pocket passer in the gun. Walsh has shown me he can be effective against Big 12 competition and I think its unfair to say what his ceiling is at this point in time.

  • Pokelahoma

    The starting QB for SMU has a pretty strong arm too…..Arm strength isn’t everything. I’d say the one thing the QB in this offense can’t do for us to be successful is the only thing Lunt has done much better than JW in. Turn it over.

    Also, I’m not real comfortable with going 6-6 or 7-5 this year under the assumption that Wes will get better. Even if he does he’s a senior by the time we win ten games again…maybe…Who knows what recruiting does when we go 6,8,9 wins next three years.

    • Cowboy-KS

      Recruiting will be fine. Players get that we are more than a flash in the pan. If Lunt doesn’t play, I suspect we lose 1 or 2 of our top WR prospects.
      Running Back depth is an issue. Would like to see 1 more 4 star RB and a FB that can tote the rock.

  • Cowboy-KS

    First – Credit Gundy for creating a 3-Deep roster of Good to Great QB’s. This really is a nice problem to discuss.
    Second – No whining – We were playing the #2 Team in the country in their house. I was there along with 60K screaming Wildcats and about 1,000 OState fans – turn-out was pathetic. There was not one OState offensive snap where I could have heard a gun go off. It was the loudest game I have ever attended. My ears are still ringing.
    Third – DO NOT get carried away with this personal player bashing. It’s an ugly path to head down.

    KState’s Defense SMASHED our Running game leaving Monken&Lunt no choice by to air out the ball. KState’s D knew this. Lunt had 2 very deep throws (Charlie, Austin) that were within 2 ft of TD’s. Assuming more experience, I’ll bet he makes throws throws and it’s a different ball game.

    We also had multiple pass drops. Last year we would have been livid. This year we are shrug. Jackson had 3 very catchable balls drop. Austin and Charlie each had one drop. Chalk this up to losing 3 of 4 Sr receivers reducing us to (count’em) 6 first year players (Jackson, Hays, Webb, Carr, Rockwell, Glidden, Sheperd), 1 Sophomore (Stewart) and Charlie (Sr) w/ maybe Anderson (Sr).

    Net-net is:
    1) Lunt is a passing freak that’s had about 3 total games worth of D-1 experience. Lunt grows enough to hit those 2 TD passes and he’s a 1st round NFL draft pick and leads us to a Big 12 title.
    2) Walsh is an amazing Run/Pass QB. I agree with Stinky Porter. Walsh has incremental growth left. He is an AMAZING change of pace QB for us. I love it that Monken could drop him in for a series and screw with defensive minds.
    3) Chelf is a very good QB as well. We all owe him an apology for turn our backs on him when the prettier girls showed up. Mr. Chelf – thanks for being there for us.

    • R00st3rPokes

      Thank you Cowboy-KS!

  • http://www.facebook.com/casey.shepherd.545 Casey Shepherd

    I have nothing constructive to add. I just had a blast reading it though. Odds we see Lunt play his week? Anyone?

  • http://gravatar.com/thabounceisback Kurt

    Before I start, let’s just get it out of the way; I am an idiot. This seems unequivocally redundant considering I am commenting on something on the internet, but it needed to be said for one very important reason: choosing QBs is hard work ad should not be done by idiots.

    With that disclaimer out of the way, here are the facts (or something resembling facts):

    1. Gundy is like 0 for 6 on picking starting QBs. In order, he went:
    -Pogi over Fields.
    -Reid over Zac.
    -Zac over Reid (in the goal line play to win against OU in, I think, ’05).
    -Alex EFFING Cate over Weeden (for an entire 0 for 13 half).
    -Zac over Weeden (again in the OU game when Zac was clearly not 100% after getting demolished by a Tech
    safety, something Bell.)
    -And now potentially Lunt over JW.

    2. OSU QBs have almost never really improved while at OSU. As you pointed out, we pretty much are used to seeing what we are going to get almost immediately out of guys. Granted, Monken may be able to do something here, but that is a big ‘if’.

    3. You cannot teach decision making either. If someone is throwing a lot of picks,it does not matter that their ball looks pretty while they’re doing it, they are probably going to continue to throw picks. See also: Jones, Landry or Gilbert, Garrett or any other of the litany of college football players with big arms that just simply got overrated because of said arms. Some people just have the ability to make good decisions really quickly and some people do not. Yes, you can move the needle on this somewhat, but do we really think we can take someone who throws more than 1 pick per TD** and turn them into Weeden? I am not that optimistic.

    4. Granted, it has not gotten to this point for various reasons, but what does it say to the rest of your players when you play the guy who is obviously worse for your team right now?

    5. Playing in games seems like a particularly bad way to develop players. Practice/watching film is where QBs get better. Starting Lunt seems to imply that he is going to develop better habits 30-ish reps at a time. I am not buying it.

    I still like Lunt. He makes throws that JW couldn’t make on Rookie in NCAA Football ’13 against Savannah State. That said, I am nervous about him taking us down an elongated path of mediocrity because his talent is just too promising for us to resist. There is a decent chance that he just simply is not that good.

    **This argument, of course, is burdened by sample size.

    • http://www.pistolsfiringblog.com Kyle Porter

      Good arguments. My one rebuttal: no, we haven’t technically developed QBs under Gundy but we also haven’t started a true freshman either….

  • mcg20k

    Alright, lets slow down on the Lunt hate, Walsh love and Chelf love.

    Walsh has looked good, but he also has shown his inability to make throws. This offense is based on the ability to put zip on the ball and put it where it can hit the receiver in stride which Walsh has had trouble with. And on the whole stat argument. Walsh put those on Savannah State, Texas, Kansas, Louisiana Lafayette and Iowa State. ISU is the only team with a respectable defense out there and basically any QB looks good playing those teams (although Walsh looked absolutely horrid in the Kansas game).

    Chelf has very limited play time so it is hard to make any real assessment of his overall play based on a quarter and a half. Yes he looked good, but K-State was playing softer coverage. I do like his mix of arm strength and running ability though.

    Lunt has had limited meaningful play time as well. The Arizona game was rough, but a lot of the mistakes were by the receivers (except that pick-6 he threw late). He missed out on his easy games to actually get his feet under him and he was basically thrown to the wolves having to play the #2 team on the road with very limited college play. But in the end, he played very well until the end of the 2nd. He was able to drive the ball down the field on KSU’s defense, but his inexperience started to show (he stares down his receivers WAY too much)

    Also, on the whole Chelf vs Lunt argument. If we compare Lunt’s first quarter and a half he played against KSU and Chelf’s game (basically a quarter and a half) they played fairly evenly. Lunt got rattled after that point and started thoriwng picks, but Chelf also seemed to be losing it at the end of the game when he basically tried his best to give KSU the ball 4 throws in a row.

    Ovverall everyone just needs to take a deep breath. This team is probably going to go 8-4 or 9-3, which is about where sensible people though we would be if stuff went pretty good for us. This is no where near the doom and gloom some people are making it out to be.

  • http://www.facebook.com/casey.shepherd.545 Casey Shepherd

    Interesting thing said by Gundy on his radio show tonight. He was asked the “durability” question and said “With Wes being so young he thought maybe Wes thought he was hurt worse than he really was and although we wont know more until tomorrow he expects Wes to practice this week.” Does this mean Wes will start? Who knows, but it almost sounded like he questioned the kids toughness. I personally thought it was a concussion, hence the vague lost expression and dry heaves.

  • Haterofherbstreit

    Everyone on here is ridiculous. Just like most sports fans, we all think we have some secret knowledge about this game, and the players that the coaches spend everyday watching and evaluating don’t have. The fact is, all of our qb’s are inexperienced in game situations, so it is going to be different game to game. AnyOne who all of a sudden thinks That because Clint completed a couple off passes he should automatically lead us to the promise land, is probably the same person who Was thanking god Lunt was back after that first Bomb to Hays. Oh the fickle crowd.