Oklahoma State has been through a few early setbacks this year, but the Cowboys still have been able to put together another productive season.
The Cowboys (6-3, 4-2) are currently the fourth best team in the Big 12 Conference, however, that will be challenged this weekend when the Red Raiders, (7-3, 4-3), currently fifth place, travel to Stillwater, Okla., to face the Cowboys at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium.
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said he expects a raucous crowd for the Cowboys’ senior day game.
“We’re not only playing an offense that has had a lot of success and run up some big numbers, a quarterback that’s experienced and playing very well, but also a defense that’s considerably different than what they were at this time last year,” Gundy said. “They’ve been very effective, so we’ll have a challenge this week. Our players are in a good frame of mind, (they are) excited and we’re at a point where we can have two good practices a week, polish up on Thursday and get ready to play with a lot of effort.
“It should be a lot of fun this weekend. We have two good teams and we should have a great atmosphere. We’re looking forward to it.”
Wide receiver Josh Stewart was named Big 12 Player of the Week for his performance against West Virginia last Saturday.
Stewart caught 13 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns in the winning effort.
Coach Gundy said players like Stewart have a great chance to be successful because he loves the game of football.
“Josh has been really good for us,” Gundy said. “Not only as a receiver — but we’ve been able to flip the ball to him and let him run. When we recruited him, the word was that he was a gamer. He liked to touch the football, he liked to be in the heat of the moment and be the guy that you rely on for big plays. He’s starting to mature a little bit.”
Stewart has caught 69 passes for 838 yards and five touchdowns this season.
Stewart said he was humbled to be selected as the Player of the Week.
“It means a lot,” Stewart said. “All of these great players in the Big 12, and you get chosen as one of the best players that week. That’s great.”
The Cowboys have one of the more balanced offenses in the Big 12 Conference. Oklahoma State has the fourth-best passing offense in the nation, according to NCAA.com; they also have the 22nd-best rushing offense.
The Cowboys’ efficacy in their passing offense comes as a surprise to many because Oklahoma State has been forced to utilize three different quarterbacks during this season.
Oklahoma State started the season with freshman Wes Lunt at quarterback before he injured his left knee during a game against Louisiana-Lafayette.
Redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh finished the game for the injured starting quarterback and passed for more than 1,300 yards in Lunt’s absence.
Walsh suffered a season-ending knee injury in a game against Iowa State, which led Lunt to return as the starting quarterback. Lunt led the Cowboys in a 36-14 victory against TCU, but would suffer a concussion the following week against Kansas State, leaving junior Clint Chelf as the new Cowboys quarterback.
Chelf excelled in his first start for Oklahoma State last week against the subpar West Virginia defense, which is allowing opponents an average of 41 points per game.
Chelf passed for 292 yards and four touchdowns, completing 22 of his 31 pass attempts in the 55-34 win against the Mountaineers.
Offensive coordinator Todd Monken said the success speaks to how the Cowboys have recruited and acquired depth at the quarterback position.
“It says a lot about the guys we have,” Monken said. “They’re talented. If they didn’t have the talent, you (wouldn’t be able to) win. It’s not like you can pull someone off the street and decide to play them.”
Oklahoma State has not named who will start at quarterback this week against Texas Tech.
Monken said the coaching staff will decide who offers the best chance of winning and from that, they will decide who will start Saturday.
“They were all available the other night, but available and medically cleared is different from being able to function, practice, be accurate with your throws and give us a chance to win,” Monken said. “They’ll all be cleared this week, so we’ll just go from there. We have three guys who are capable of winning, so we’ll just assess it as the week goes.”