This week we'll be highlighting the key position battles for every program in the Big 12. We continue the series with Oklahoma State’s quarterback derby.
Here's where the battle stands:
What happened last season: Departed quarterback Clint Chelf ignited OSU’s offense when he took over as the starter midway through the 2013 season. He played as well as any quarterback in the conference during OSU’s final seven games, playing a major role in the Cowboys' late-season surge. Chelf finished second in the Big 12 with an 82.9 adjusted QBR.
Walsh started five games and played the majority of OSU’s season-opening win over Mississippi State while helping the Cowboys to a 10-3 record. His 74.5 adjusted QBR was fourth in the Big 12, and he rushed for 294 yards and passed for 1,333 yards in 2013. Nonetheless, Walsh hasn’t run away with OSU’s starting quarterback job heading into the 2014 season.
While Chelf and Walsh were running the Pokes' offense each Saturday, walk-on quarterback Garman was beginning to create some buzz in practice while sitting out due to transfer rules after transferring from Arizona.
What they offer: Walsh offers an unquestioned leader who has a proven ability to win Big 12 games. He enters his junior season with 2,897 passing yards, 22 touchdowns and eight interceptions along with 584 rushing yards and 10 scores in 18 games played. Walsh struggled at times during the 2013 season and needs to greatly improve as a passer, but nobody on the roster can match his experience or college production.
Garman’s ability to throw the ball started garnering attention last fall. His passing ability remains one of his top assets, with offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich repeatedly praising his throwing skills. Garman’s play is the main reason Walsh, despite his experience, has not been named the starter, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the former walk-on taking snaps in the season opener against Florida State.
Rudolph appears to be the Cowboys' quarterback of the future. The question is, could the future begin this fall? With OSU featuring two quality options ahead of him, Rudolph faces a long road to earning playing time this fall. And if he does, that’s a terrific sign for the future.
They said it: “As a group, the three of them had as good of a scrimmage at the quarterback position in a number of years.” -- OSU coach Mike Gundy after the Cowboys’ scrimmage on Saturday.
Prediction: The Cowboys’ quarterback battle will wage deep into the season. It would be a surprise if Walsh didn’t start against Florida State, particularly since his running ability could come in handy against an active Seminoles defensive front. But, much like last season, Walsh will have to hold off another quality quarterback behind him in Garman. There will probably be times when Garman is the best option instead of Walsh, and Rudolph’s physical gifts are impressive. In fact, it wouldn’t be a surprise if all three quarterbacks take snaps for the Cowboys in 2014.