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Choo Choo is off the rails

Clint Chelf is QB2…for now. What the heck just happened?



Photo Attribution: USATSI

Photo Attribution: USATSI

It was actually a little bit sad to watch — ABC trying with all its might to drum up a QB controversy to shroud the fact that it had inadvertently chosen a snoozefest as its opening 2:30 game for most of the country.

The camera kept panning to Clint Chelf on the sidelines, his facemask concealing what had to be a very confused and bummed out look on his face.

The ride was a wild one, too.

Comes in at the end of the Kansas State game and plays beautifully (much to the chagrin of Wes Lunt’s pithy hate crowd). After cleaning up that mess in Manhattan Chelf would go on to guide a team that would only trail 52 of the next 300 minutes of football. A stretch that included three wins and a bowl MVP.

He seemed the inevitable senior starter coming into 2013. Gundy even said so, multiple times:


“We’re going to work our quarterbacks just like we would any other position, but when we start out in the spring and they go running out there, Clint is going to go running out there just like he did today.”


“Clint Chelf is our starter; he takes all the reps with the (first string) right now. The other guys compete out there, but I don’t necessarily feel like there’s a battle out there to start in the first game.”

Then suddenly two weeks after that April quote Gundy flipped:

“We haven’t necessarily said anything about the first game of the season…Clint’s been the guy that, up to this point, has gone out there and gotten the reps when we started with the 1s. But we haven’t established who would be a starter for any particular reason.”

This came three weeks before Wes Lunt transferred.

Gundy solidified that statement again in August:

“We’re going to play both guys. It hasn’t changed since spring. Both quarterbacks have improved. I don’t feel like either one of them will be a backup in the first game.”

Today though, today he tabbed No. 4:

Chelf went from “neither will be the backup” to “Walsh is the starter” in seven plays.

Here’s what I think happened…

After the Heart of Dallas Bowl Gundy was ready to roll with Chelf as his QB. He all but handed him the reins in January…before Mike Yurcich was hired.

Since Dana Holgorsen was hired in 2010 Gundy has been all in on the air raid offense. This was a switch from his early years as offensive coordinator when he would sort of mold the offense to whatever his personnel enabled it to be. Since 2010 though, no changes.

But since 2010 OSU has always had a definitive air raid-ish QB as its QB1. Weeden for two years and then, apparently, Wes Lunt last year, according to Monken. This year Gundy figured Chelf would just step in as that air raid QB and that would be that.

It feels like Yurcich had different plans though. And if you read between the lines (or watched the first two series’ on Saturday) it feels like Yurcich always wanted it to be Walsh. The thing about Gundy is that he’s mostly ceded total control to his coordinators and what they wanted to do.

And that’s where that fiasco on Saturday comes in. You can say whatever you want about Chelf having a poor first few throws (and he did) but it sure felt like it was a 2009 Alex Cate situation all over again. It really feels like Gundy and Yurcich already knew.

Hey Clint, here’s your obligatory seven snaps, I’m going to run a bunch of plays that don’t really play to your skill set totally, and……now we’re going with the other guy. 

Boom, life as QB1 over.

OKC Dave put it this way:

It’s surprising, too. I’m not going to go on an anti-Walsh rant because I watched a replay of the game this morning and I feel like I really have been blinded to a lot of the great stuff he does with his wheels and the arm thing, I’ll live.

I can roll with Walsh, I am rolling with Walsh.

But Chelf going from “he’ll go out there with the first team” to being the definitive backup went down faster than Justin Gilbert can drop a pick.

I’m actually glad Gundy finally made a decision,[1. I’ve said all along I prefer Walsh over the 2-QB system.] though the entire processional makes me wonder whether he actually knew back in April that Walsh was the guy, figured out Lunt was transferring, knew he’d need a backup, and decided to string Chelf along so he would have to play Daxx if/when Walsh goes down.

I’m not saying that happened, only that it’s possible.

One national writer told me he talked to a Big 12 coach in early August who couldn’t believe the OSU QB race was still a race. That coach said:

Unless I’m missing something, Chelf is the guy there.

It would appear that we were all missing something because he is definitely not the guy anymore.

I don’t think his season’s completely over though.

Go back and watch the highlights (or “highlights”) from that 2009 season when Zac was running zone reads all over the place.[1. He was probably zone reading the drink menu at Murphy’s.] His dome got battered harder than a misplaced Jamie Moyer fastball. Will Walsh escape the season unscathed? I sure hope so, but I wouldn’t think the odds of it are good. So unless Gundy is going to roll with Daxx later on I think we could see Chelf again.

RIP Choo Choo…for now.

JW Walsh is the starter and that’s fine.

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