When Oklahoma State backup quarterback J.W. Walsh scored two touchdowns against Texas last week, many watching at home were surprised. Starter Mason Rudolph was not injured, yet Walsh came in and successfully directed a package of plays designed for his dual-threat skills.
He ran for 27 yards and a touchdown on designed keepers. He threw for 2 yards and a touchdown. He helped the Cowboys beat the Longhorns with plays the ESPN announcing crew described as effective and unexpected.
Kansas State coach Bill Snyder reacted differently.
“He could play one snap or he could play 80 snaps,” Snyder said. “It is just whatever they choose to do.”
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No one at K-State was surprised to see Walsh do damage against Texas. The last time the Wildcats faced the Cowboys in Stillwater, Walsh was Oklahoma State’s starting quarterback. He threw for 245 yards and a touchdown in a 33-29 victory.
Rudolph, having led Oklahoma State to late victories over Oklahoma and Washington last season, is now the primary quarterback. So Walsh mainly enters the game in short-yardage situations, taking shotgun snaps and powering straight ahead with his 6-foot-2, 215-pound frame.
But he can do more. This season, he has rushed for 74 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries and he has thrown for 47 yards and three touchdowns.
“You anticipate that (Walsh) comes in the ballgame and they are going to run the quarterback,” Snyder said. “But he completed about 67 percent of his passes against us in 2013 when we played them. ... He is capable, and he proved to us that he can throw the ball around. We know he can run it, because that is what they use him for now. But he will do both when he is in.”
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy is intentionally vague when talking about Walsh’s future usage.
He says the Cowboys plan to use him in every game. Maybe he will see five snaps against K-State. Maybe he will see 25. Perhaps he will even get to throw some passes out of a traditional formation.
“He’s a weapon for us,” Gundy said.
K-State players expect to see Rudolph, who has thrown for 1,237 yards this season, and Walsh on Saturday. Nothing Oklahoma State does should surprise them.
Still, two quarterbacks present a new challenge.
“When you have two quarterbacks who can do both and they are always fresh all the time,” linebacker Will Davis said, “it is always tough on a defense.”
Kellis Robinett: @KellisRobinett
Kansas State at No. 20 Oklahoma State
WHEN: 3 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla.
TV: Fox Sports 1
Three story lines
1. Road losing streak: K-State’s last two trips to Oklahoma State went down to the wire, but they ended the same way as every other game at Stillwater dating back to 1999 — in defeat. Boone Pickens Stadium has not been kind to K-State over the years. Oklahoma State has won four straight home games in the series.
2. Nothing new: Playing a road conference game will be a new experience for several new starters, including quarterback Joe Hubener, but they aren’t worried about it. Winning a nonconference game at Texas-San Antonio earlier this season, they said, helped prepare them for Oklahoma State.
3. Where are the interceptions? K-State’s defense didn’t force a turnover in either of its first two games and it hasn’t intercepted a pass. Bill Snyder said snapping that streak will be a priority.