Walsh settling in as Oklahoma State starter

JOHN TRANCHINA (Associated Press)
The Associated Press
Walsh settling in as Oklahoma State starter
Oklahoma State's J.W. Walsh (4) looks to throw against Texas San Antonio during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013, in San Antonio. Oklahoma State won 56-35.(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) -- As good as he was in last Saturday's game against Texas-San Antonio, it's easy to forget Oklahoma State quarterback J.W. Walsh wasn't even the starter two weeks ago.

Walsh, who completed 24 of 27 passes for 326 yards and four touchdowns while leading the No. 12 Cowboys to a 56-35 victory against UTSA on the road, was selected the Big 12 offensive player of the week for his performance.

Before that, Walsh had to earn the starter's role by outplaying senior Clint Chelf in the season opener on Aug. 31. Following a protracted pre-season battle, coach Mike Gundy indicated both would play, and Walsh came off the bench and rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown, threw for 135 more, and sparked a 21-3 win over Mississippi State in Houston.

There's no question now that Walsh is the main man and will start Saturday at home against Lamar.

Typical for the humble Walsh, he deflected any personal praise to the rest of OSU's fast-paced offense.

''I think that's a team thing,'' said Walsh of the award. ''It means that we have guys who can catch the ball for us. No matter how many times we throw it, or how accurate you're throwing it, those guys still have to catch it, they still have to get open, you still have to have guys protecting for you, and to be able to do that, I think it speaks miles for our passing game.''

Receiver Charlie Moore, who caught three passes for 43 yards and a touchdown against UTSA, turned the attention back on Walsh.

''He was great, what a great game he had, almost 90 percent passing accuracy,'' Moore said. ''J.W.'s a great leader, he's a great friend, he's fun to play for. We trust him back there and it's just exciting to watch the guy play. He's one of the toughest guys on the team. He's going to work and do whatever he can to help us win a championship and that's why we love him.''

Walsh's physical and mental abilities were what impressed Gundy the most.

''J.W. has an uncanny ability to put aside pain and fatigue,'' Gundy said. ''He has a tremendous cardiovascular system and up to this point he has shown the ability to think fast and to compete. The greatest asset he has going right now is his ability to lead. He's improved in the throwing game and certainly has the ability to run. He's eager to learn and is very coachable. He accepts responsibility for what happens in practice and in games and that gives him the best chance to succeed.''

Walsh's leadership qualities, even though he's just a sophomore, have played a key role in his success.

''He kind of keeps us going, lets us know we got to go faster, and he's really a supportive guy,'' offensive lineman Brandon Webb said. ''He's always there to help us, tell us, 'Hey what do you see? Do you need to be better at protecting, get us a bigger pocket?' And we're like, 'OK, we'll get that for you.' We know he's not going to quit. I think he's like the Energizer bunny, I don't think he ever gets tired.''

As one of three quarterbacks to see significant action last season, Walsh was named Big 12 offensive freshman of the year after appearing in 10 games, including three starts, in which he completed 67 percent of his passes for 1,564 yards and 13 touchdowns, and rushed for seven scores.

Walsh, of course, views his development as part of the team's.

''I've learned a lot about the team, just how strong we are and how much of a family we really are,'' he said. ''Because no matter who's in there, no matter who's playing which position, we always go to work and we trust the guys next to us and we play hard for each other and that's why we're starting to be successful.''