Mike Gundy

Photo Credit: Jenna VonHofe | Daily Texan Staff

DALLAS ‒ The Big 12 unofficially kicked off the 2014 football season at the conference’s media days at the Omni Dallas Hotel on Monday.

The event began with Commissioner Bob Bowlsby’s annual State of the Conference address. Bowlsby delivered an eye-opening speech in which he warned that collegiate sports as we know it may be vastly different in the near future.

“Change is coming,” Bowlsby said. “There is change afoot, and some of it is going to be unhappy change because I think it will ultimately reduce the number of opportunities for young people to go to college and participate in sports.”

Bowlsby was followed by five of the 10 Big 12 Coaches: Art Briles, Charlie Weis, Mike Gundy, Gary Patterson and Kliff Kingsbury

Baylor: Briles preparing Bears to defend Big 12 title

The Baylor Bears won their first Big 12 title last season. Despite being picked to finished second by the Big 12 media behind Oklahoma, head coach Art Briles is teaching the team how to defend its title and the adversity that comes with the territory.

“We see ourselves as the guy fighting hard, scratching hard to try to get some recognition and some respect,” Briles said. “We have to learn how to prepare as the hunted as opposed to the hunter.  We've always been the hunter.  And I don't want to lose that edge and that attitude.”

Kansas: Weis, Jayhawks fighting for relevancy

The Kansas Jayhawks are six years removed from their victory in the 2008 Orange Bowl, and it’s been a rough road ever since.

Jayhawks coach Charlie Weis, in his third year as head coach, knows the team needs to improve.

“We haven't done a thing in the two years I've been here,” Weis said. “But our team very clearly knows what our expectations are. There's no hiding it.”

Oklahoma State: Gundy looking for quarterback to replace Chelf

The Oklahoma State Cowboys were a game away from winning the Big 12 Championship last season because of great quarterback play from Clint Chelf. Chelf threw for 2,173 yards, 17 passing touchdowns and 7 rushing touchdowns.

But now that Chelf is gone, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy is trying to find his replacement and leading the way is junior J.W. Walsh.

“Walsh took the majority of the reps in the spring with the 1s and has had a good summer,” Gundy said. “Based on the style of play or the plan of attack that we want to use, we have a little bit of flexibility with the quarterback that we put in the game at that time.”

TCU: Patterson, Horned Frogs looking to overcome bowl-less season

For the first time in 16 seasons, TCU and head coach Gary Patterson missed out on playing in a bowl game. Despite the frustrating 2013 season, Patterson and the Horned Frogs are preparing themselves for a comeback.

“We got back to a Bowl game,” Patterson said. “So for me, it's all been about understanding it wasn't broke; you've got to make sure you go out — gotta be physical, gotta trust each other, gotta play together as a group, and also, you've got to find a way to make those plays at the end of the ballgame.”

Texas Tech: Kingsbury settling into coaching Red Raiders in second season

Under head coach Kliff Kingsbury, the Texas Tech Red Raiders rushed out to a 7-0 start in 2013. The Raiders followed that winning streak with a five-game losing streak. But a win in the Holiday Bowl revitalized Kingsbury and the team heading into the 2014 season.

“Yeah, [winning the Holiday Bowl] was huge,” Kinsbury said. “It proved to our team and our players that if you keep working hard and you keep focusing on your job and your responsibility, good things will happen.”

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy talks on his headset as he watches from the sidelines in the fourth quarter of the game against Louisiana-Lafayette in Stillwater, Oka. on Sept. 15. Oklahoma state won, 65-24.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Mack Brown’s resignation Saturday ended his tenure at Texas after 16 seasons, but it also opened up one of the premier coaching gigs in college football. Here are five possible replacements for Brown as Texas’ next head coach:

Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State

Gundy’s stock elevated over the past three seasons, when he led the Cowboys to a 30-8 record and a conference title in 2011. Overall, Gundy is 77-37 in nine seasons at Oklahoma State, posting a 5-2 record in bowl games. He does plenty of recruiting already in Texas, and he’s been instrumental in solidifying OSU as one of the Big 12’s most consistent programs.

Gus Malzahn, Auburn

It was reported Texas was Malzhan’s dream job earlier this month, right before he inked a six-year, $26.85 million contract to remain at Auburn. That said, if anyone possesses the money to buy out a contract — it’s Texas. Malzahn has impressed, leading Auburn to a 12-1 record and a trip to the national championship game in his first year with the Tigers. The previous season, Auburn finished 3-9 and 0-8 in SEC play. His up-tempo offense would be a solid fit with the Longhorns.

Charlie Strong, Louisville

Strong’s buyout would cost Texas $5 million, but the Longhorns' bigger challenge would be convincing him to leave Louisville. He passed on a chance to go to Tennessee last year, and the Cardinals seem intent on paying whatever it takes to keep him. Still, he is an enticing fit for Texas. Strong has gone 22-3 in the last two seasons and led Louisville to a Sugar Bowl victory last year. He also won a pair of national titles as an assistant with a big school in Florida.

James Franklin, Vanderbilt

Franklin enjoyed another strong season with Vanderbilt in 2013, leading the Commodores to their third straight bowl game. Overall, Franklin has guided an overachieving Vanderbilt team to a 23-15 record in his three seasons as head coach. The Commodores went just 4-20 in the two seasons before his arrival. It’s interesting to think about what Franklin could do with all of Texas’ talent at his disposal.

Jimbo Fisher, Florida State

After failing to nab Nick Saban, it would be natural for Texas to turn to the next best thing. In this case, that’s Fisher; who sports a .815 career win percentage and a trip to BCS bowls in each of the last two seasons. Like Malzahn, Fisher is fighting for a national championship this year with the Seminoles. He also recently received a raise to $4.25 million from Florida State. Texas would likely offer more money, but Fisher would be hard pressed to leave an FSU team that figures to contend for another national title next year behind freshman quarterback Jameis Winston.

Oklahoma State's Clint Chelf brought Texas fans flashbacks to its early season loss to BYU when Taysom Hill ran all over the Longhorns. Texas' defense has improved significantly since then but continues to struggle to stop the quaterback option.

Photo Credit: Sam Ortega | Daily Texan Staff

If there was one thing Texas wanted to forget about this season, it was its defensive woes against BYU and its quarterback Taysom Hill.

The Longhorns gave up 550 rushing yards against the Cougars with 259 of those coming from the sophomore quarterback. On Saturday afternoon, Texas had flashbacks to that woeful game, as Oklahoma State’s quarterback, Clint Chelf, took off against the Longhorns in another contest Texas would like to forget about.

“It was unacceptable, unacceptable,” defensive coordinator Greg Robinson said. “It shouldn’t have happened.”

Chelf tallied 95 yards on the ground against the shattered Texas defense. The senior grabbed two rushing touchdowns while adding 197 yards passing and two touchdowns through the air. Chelf accounted for all but three of the Cowboys’ points.

“Clint managed the game really well and continues to be a nifty runner for us,” Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy said. “We didn’t need to use him as a runner as much in the second half, so we didn’t. He plays pretty good from start to finish. I’m proud of him — the way he’s developing and leading our team on offense — and he stepped up to lead our offense at this time.”

Texas allowed multiple gaps to open up in the middle of the field, which allowed running room for Chelf. Robinson explained that his linebackers are responsible for making the call to close up gaps, but those calls were never made.

“We did a very poor job inside with gap control on the quarterback draw a couple times early that just killed us, and then they scored a run for about 20 yards with the same thing,” head coach Mack Brown said. “We did a better job with that after, but then they hurt us more on the option. It seemed like every time we get something going, we killed ourselves.”

The Longhorns were unable to apply pressure on Chelf, and with the open gaps, let him go untouched into the Texas backfield.

“They were blocking with most of their guys,” senior defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat said. “They’d bring the fullback in the back and block with him or they’d get it out pretty quick … When they got up, they didn’t throw the ball much.”

Texas played lights-out defense for the past few weeks while they recorded six consecutive wins. But on Saturday, the team regressed back to last season’s defense, which was statistically the worst in school history.

“It’s something you just can’t explain,” senior cornerback Carrington Byndom said. “Sometimes, you don’t know why things go the way that they do. As a defense, we have to make sure that we come out and start fast and we just didn’t. We just need to do better.”

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

After redshirting, Clint Chelf stood on the sideline with a clipboard in his hands for two years learning from one of the greatest quarterbacks in school history — Brandon Weeden.

He saw Weeden lead the Cowboys to national prominence. Many felt they deserved a shot at the 2011 BCS championship game. So when Weeden got drafted in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, Chelf felt like it was his turn to lead the team he grew up watching from nearby Enid.

But head coach Mike Gundy brought in the country’s No. 4 and 7 quarterback recruits, according to rivals.com, and declared an open competition for the starting quarterback job.

“Go win the job,” Weeden texted Chelf, endorsing his back-up and best friend.

But he didn’t.

True freshman Wes Lunt won the job. The other freshman and highest-rated recruit of the three, J.W Walsh, was named the back-up.

“Clint probably knew the offense better than anybody in the room,” Weeden told The Sporting News this February. “His heart probably broke.”

In the third game, Lunt went down with a leg injury. He was replaced by Walsh.

Then Walsh went down with an injury. He was replaced by a banged-up Lunt.

“My morale was obviously hurt,” Chelf said. “I wanted to play for Oklahoma State, but it didn’t seem like it was ever going to happen for me.”

Chelf thought about transferring for his fifth year. He was tired of watching. Luckily for Gundy, though, Chelf stuck with it, because when Lunt went down with a head injury against TCU and Walsh wasn’t healthy, Chelf was ready.

In the final six games, Chelf threw for 14 touchdowns, including a three-touchdown performance against Purdue in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Walsh and Lunt were healthy for final two, but Gundy stuck with Chelf. He went from third-string to MVP of the bowl win.

“I’m very happy he decided to stay with us,” Mike Gundy said after that game. “It’s not been easy for him this season.”

So finally, for the first time in his five years in Stillwater, it looked as though he wouldn’t have to worry about starting on the sideline. He clearly outplayed Walsh in the prior year. Lunt opted to transfer to his hometown team, Illinois.

“The way I look at it? It’s my job,” Chelf said after the bowl game. “It’s my spot right now.”

And when this season started against Mississippi State, Chelf trotted out there as the starter.

But, as planned, Gundy made the switch and put Walsh in at quarterback. Chelf didn’t play again in the season-opening win over the Bulldogs. 

Fast forward five weeks, and after Walsh threw two interceptions in three drives against TCU, Chelf once again worked his back to under center. And just like last year when he finally got a chance, he never looked back.

Despite the coaches still not backing him fully as the best quarterback on the team, he’s started every game since, winning all three. The Cowboys have scored more than 42 points in all of them. He was named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week.  

And the Longhorns know that, just because he was at one point a third-string quarterback, it doesn’t mean they can take him lightly.

“The Chelf kid, he’s a talented quarterback,” senior defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat said.

With Johnathan Gray out for the season, Texas running back Joe Bergeron will be relied on to fill the void in the backfield.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

The 2004 season opened with promise for Oklahoma State — it won six of its first seven games. But then, the team dropped four of its final five. This started with a 38-35 loss in their Bedlam rivalry game against Oklahoma, giving the Cowboys ample motivation to bounce back the next week in Austin. 

Early on they did just that, taking a 35-7 lead over the Longhorns with just under a minute and half to play in the second quarter. The Longhorns answered with a score at the half and dominated the Cowboys 42-0 in the second half to win 56-35 in the largest comeback victory in program history. The Cowboys rebounded against Baylor but dropped their final two contests, setting the stage for the struggles of 2005 under head coach Mike Gundy.

As Texas prepares for its matchup with the No. 12-ranked Oklahoma State this Saturday, it hopes to exact a similar type of resilience.

Since 2005, Gundy has worked wonders to make the program nationally relevant, including a No. 3 final ranking and a Big 12 title in 2011. One of the biggest consistencies in Gundy-coached squads is elite offensive-line play in the sacks-allowed category. In four seasons since 2007 the Cowboys have allowed the fewest sacks in the Big 12.

This season’s squad is no different, allowing only eight sacks through nine games so far, good for first in the Big 12. It ranks just ahead of Texas’ under-appreciated offensive line, which gave up five sacks in its first three games but only six since.

Since 1998, the Longhorns out-sacked the Cowboys by an average of 2.5 to 1.9 per game, leading to an average final score of 37.3-24.2. In Oklahoma State’s victories in 2010 and 2011, the Cowboys brought down Texas’ quarterback 3.5 times per game to Texas’ one. It’s fitting that this matchup features the top two statistical offensive lines in the conference, since this game is often won by the team that allows the fewest sacks.

This plays to Texas’ advantage, as its defensive line is one of the best in the country. The Longhorns have tallied 24 sacks in conference play so far, the second-most for a BCS conference squad. The Cowboys, on the other hand, are only at 11 so far, which is sixth in the Big 12.

Texas’ loss of senior defensive tackle Chris Whaley will hurt the line’s production but junior Desmond Jackson, who started 11 games in 2012, should be capable of filling in without much drop-off.

Texas’ offensive line should hold up against the Oklahoma State defensive line, which makes Texas’ defensive-line play key to this contest. If defensive ends senior Jackson Jeffcoat and junior Cedric Reed continue to harass the quarterback as they have the past six contests, the Longhorns should be able to take another step closer to the Big 12 title.

Former Longhorn Connor Brewer relays information to starting quarterback David Ash at the December 2012 Alamo Bowl against Oregon State. Brewer is the most recent athlete to transfer unconditionally from Texas. Football transfers have made headlines due to ambigious restrictions placed on student athletes.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Earlier this month, redshirt freshman Connor Brewer announced that he would seek a transfer from the Longhorn football program after only one season at Texas. Brewer is following in the steps of former Texas quarterbacks Connor Wood and Garrett Gilbert, both of whom transferred to other programs with eligibility remaining. 

“I want to thank everyone at The University of Texas — the coaching staff, the fans and especially my teammates for a great experience here in Austin over the last 18 months,” Brewer said. “I do, however, feel that it is in my best interest as a football player to pursue other options to continue my college career.” 

The Texas football program has had its fair share of transfers, but recently with increasing restrictions by high-profile universities across the country, the rules regarding transfers have been thrust into the spotlight. While Texas has an open policy for its transferring athletes, imposing no additional restrictions beyond the minimum by the NCAA and Big 12, such is not the case for many other football programs. 

In May, Oklahoma State sophomore Wes Lunt elected to transfer but was stuck with stringent stipulations on where he could play next, which brought scrutiny to what restrictions head coaches could place on transferring athletes in addition to the restrictions placed by the NCAA and Big 12. 

According to the NCAA, students are allowed to transfer to any school of their choice but must be released by their current institution from any scholarships. For football and both men’s and women’s basketball, an athlete must sit out for one year before being allowed to compete at a new institution. In the Big 12, an athlete can choose to attend another conference school, but he would lose an additional year of eligibility for those same sports. 

There is no rule, however, against the initial institution placing limitations on which universities are eligible for an athlete to transfer to as part of the student’s initial letter of intent, with the team generally blocking in-conference opponents and schools that will show up on the schedule during the player’s career. 

Lunt’s case made national headlines after Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy significantly limited Lunt’s transfer options. Gundy barred Lunt from transferring to schools in the SEC and Pac-12 conference, Southern Mississippi, where former Cowboy offensive coordinator Todd Monken was named head coach, as well as all in-conference teams and teams that Oklahoma State has currently scheduled, a staggering 37 in all. 

If a player wants to leave for another school but is not granted a release from his letter of intent contract with the original university, the athlete forfeits the opportunity to play for scholarship money while still sitting out the next season. However, as in the case of Gilbert, if a student graduates from his original university, he is not bound by transfer restrictions if he is seeking a new degree. 

In another case this past April, Pittsburgh placed restrictions on running back Rushel Shell who wants to transfer to Arizona State, a team that is in a different conference and is not on Pittsburgh’s future football schedule. Arizona State’s head coach is Todd Graham, a former coach at Pittsburgh.

Texas has had a record of issuing unconditional releases to athletes who elect to transfer, under whatever circumstances, for other opportunities. Texas head coach Mack Brown has even said he is willing to aid transferring athletes in their search for a new program. Even after former Big 12 rival Texas A&M left the conference, Texas did not place restrictions in regards to the Aggies. 

“If a guy comes in and talks to us about, whether it’s being unhappy, needing more playing time, wanting to get closer to home, whatever, it really doesn’t matter,” Brown said. 

Brewer is the third Texas quarterback in three years to choose, and be awarded, an unconditional release from his scholarship in search of new opportunities. It has been suggested that Brewer’s decision to transfer stems from his position on the depth chart. Over the year, Brewer has fallen behind junior starter David Ash, senior backup Case McCoy and true freshman standout Tyrone Swoopes on projected depth charts for the upcoming football season.

“I mean, if they’re not happy here, we want to help them, and we’ve never had a conditional release for anybody,” Brown said. “If we release them, we try to help them. So we’ll call the places they want to go.”

Brewer has not named what school he will be transferring to, but indicated that Alabama, Notre Dame, Stanford, UCLA, Louisville, Tennessee and Arizona have expressed interest. 

“Coach Brown was great,” Brewer told ESPN. “He understood the situation and basically said, ‘You’re free to go where you want.’” 

Wood, who was a redshirt freshman when he elected to transfer to the University of Colorado, was tied for third on the depth chart with Ash behind Gilbert and McCoy in 2011. Similarly, Gilbert was allowed an unconditional release to attend SMU after starting the 2012 season and suffering a season-ending shoulder surgery. 

The rules that govern student-athletes are ambiguous and a student cannot do much to change an institution’s ruling on transfer, Austin sports lawyer Pete Reid said. After a student asks for permission to contact other schools, the school has seven days to respond. After that, the student can request a hearing to appeal that must be held within 14 days, but the rules don’t provide for more specific parts of the process.

“The rules allow for the schools to do whatever they want,” Reid said. “It doesn’t say what grounds the school has to have to deny the student, doesn’t even say specific parts of the hearing. There are no standards.” 

The ambiguity of the rules makes it more difficult for student-athletes to do anything to fight against a university if they want to transfer. 

“It’s just not practical for a student to bring a lawsuit against a school,” Reid said. “No one wants to cause trouble against the school. No one wants to be the one who leaves because the coach doesn’t like them and students respect what the schools tell them.” 

As for Texas’ history of unconditional releases, Reid said he thinks it is a good thing. 

“Usually there’s a reason that a student needs to transfer,” Reid said. “I think what Texas does is a very good thing, even when offering to help the students.” 

Many opponents of the current transfer situation claim that the universities and NCAA are treating student-athletes less like the students and teenagers that they are and more like their professional counterparts. A student who seeks a transfer after more than one year at his original institution is putting his playing career in jeopardy thanks to heightened transfer restrictions. 

Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops told ESPN that he supported Gundy’s decision to restrict Lunt’s transfer options, stating that he doesn’t believe it is right for a student to be able to do whatever he wants after already committing to play for a university. Other proponents of transfer restrictions say it is needed to help teach athletes to stay the course, mature and work harder to get better. There is also worry that a transferring player could take school playbooks to a rival university. 

According to the NCAA website, in 2012 NCAA President Mark Emmert convened a task force to work on transfer rules with university presidents and NCAA members, reviewing every rule to establish a way of enforcement. New bylaws were expected to be presented to the Division 1 Board of Directors in late 2012 or early 2013, but have not been announced.

Report: Anderson apologizes to Gundy [UPDATED]

The head of Big 12 football officials apologized to Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy for the botched call on a Texas touchdown on Saturday, a source told The Oklahoman.

Walt Anderson “apologized profusely” for the call.  Anderson said the officials were too quick to call the go-ahead touchdown.  The replay booth reviewed the call.

Texas running back Joe Bergeron scored the touchdown with less than two minutes to play in the game.  Anderson said the ball was fumbled before he crossed the goal line.

The Big 12 said these reports, however, were inaccurate.

The touchdown gave the Longhorns the lead and made way for their eventual 41-36 win over OSU.

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy talks on his headset as he watches from the sidelines in the fourth quarter of the game against Louisiana-Lafayette in Stillwater, Oka. on Sept. 15. Oklahoma state won, 65-24.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Oklahoma State’s game against Texas on Saturday will be a measuring stick for OSU coach Mike Gundy and the program he’s built.

Sometimes it’s an overused term, but in this case it fits. Oklahoma State’s football team was hit hard by graduation after the 2011 season, losing two first-round NFL draft picks in Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon. The Cowboys also lost defensive captain Markelle Martin in the fourth round and both of the team’s starting defensive ends.

Since the departures, Gundy has constantly had to answer two questions: Will he reload or rebuild, and who is his quarterback?

The latter was announced at the end of spring practices when freshman Wes Lunt won the starting job. His 6-foot-4 frame and electric arm was exactly what Gundy and offensive coordinator Todd Monken wanted for Weeden’s replacement.

Lunt’s play this season was initially strong, and included him breaking the Big 12 single-game passing record for a freshman against Arizona when he threw for 436 yards and three touchdowns. It seemed as though Gundy had answered both of the offseason questions with ease — at least until the first quarter of the Louisiana-Lafayette game.

Lunt was tackled as he rolled to his right and remained on the turf while grabbing at his knee in obvious pain.

Just like that, the second question came back into play. Will the Cowboys reload, or will they rebuild?

Gundy has said several times that his goal is to have a two-deep depth chart, a situation that would provide flawless transitions between the starter and backup in an injury situation.

It’s a recruiting plan much like Texas coach Mack Brown has in place, though Oklahoma State doesn’t quite have the power that the Longhorns have in their offseason acquisitions.

“There’s a number of advantages in playing or coaching for Texas,” Gundy said. “If you started writing down the big-time guys they’ve had, you’d take up an entire notebook ... We’re starting to get into that geographical region more than we have in the past, but we’re obviously not on their level.”

But Gundy is moving in the right direction, and it showed two weeks ago when former Denton Guyer quarterback J.W. Walsh lined up behind center in Lunt’s absence.

Walsh, a redshirt-freshman, torched the Ragin’ Cajun defense for 420 total yards, which was good for the eighth-best single-game total in Oklahoma State history.

The backup looked strong but it was also against La.-Lafaeyette, who’s obviously not a Big 12-quality football team.

Now, Walsh faces a bear of a challenge in a Texas defense that boasts two of the best defensive ends in the nation in Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat, and the talent doesn’t stop there. The Longhorn secondary is just as loaded, and is so athletic that they play man defense a majority of the time. That game plan is something that has given OSU some trouble against the Longhorns in their last two match ups.

“This will be a good test for both of us to find out where we’re really at, at least in my opinion,” Gundy said. “I don’t know that we’ll play anybody that will be as athletic as these guys.”

This game will show where Gundy stands. Is he where he wants his program to be, a two-deep football team capable of sustaining their level of play even when the injury-bug bites? Or is the team still trying to get there, trying their hardest to rebuild after the mortar of Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon was removed from their brick wall?

Saturday’s match up against the best defense in the Big 12 will tell you all you need to know.

Rebuilding, or reloading?

Freshman quarterback Wes Lunt is helped off the field after injuring his knee against Louisiana-Lafayette.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

This weekend’s game between Texas and Oklahoma State might as well be a battle between two Texas teams. After all, 66 members of the Oklahoma State football team are from Texas in addition to safeties coach Van Malone, who played at Texas from 1990-1993.

Saturday evening, Texas will open its Big 12 slate of games against the Cowboys in Stillwater, Okla. at Boone Pickens Stadium. The Cowboys are 8-8 in Big 12 openers, and 6-2 under head coach Mike Gundy. 

The Longhorns hold a 22-4 advantage over the Cowboys and have won the last 10 games at Pickens Stadium, the last win coming in 2009. However, Oklahoma State took advantage of the Longhorns’ two-year slump and are riding a two-game win streak over Texas.

Last season the Cowboys won a close game 38-26 in Austin. The Oklahoma State defense forced three turnovers, logged five sacks and 13 tackles for a loss. Although Texas quarterback David Ash passed for 139 yards last year, he also fumbled once and threw two picks. 

The Cowboys still have not released the name of their starting quarterback for Saturday although it is not because they are trying to be secretive. Gundy and the football team’s medical staff are remaining optimistic about quarterback Wes Lunt. Lunt was the Cowboys’ starting quarterback until he suffered a knee injury two weeks ago against Louisiana-Lafayette.

“They’re going to cut off his knee brace today,” Gundy said. “They looked at it a few days ago, and it was even better than what we thought...we’re excited about the feedback we’re getting from the medical staff.”

Texas would fare better against a cautious Lunt who is hesitant to risk the big plays that have been hurting the Texas defense lately. It would be better than a healthy J.W. Walsh, the explosive redshirt freshman who turned in 732 total yards of offense last weekend coming off the bench for Lunt.

The Texas defense will also have its hands full with Joseph Randle, who is Oklahoma State’s leading rusher and is currently the top rusher in the Big 12 with 335 total yards. For comparison’s sake, Texas’ Malcolm Brown is currently fifth with 238 yards on the ground. So far this season, the defensive unit from Texas has given up 148.3 yards rushing per game, despite only giving up 16 points on average.

“[The Longhorns] are aggressive and well-coached,” Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Todd Monken said. “You have to make sure you are sound in everything you do I think they do a really good job and their guys play hard. They fly around the football.”

In addition, Oklahoma State has the top-rated offense in the Big 12 through the first three games in all categories — rushing, passing, scoring and total offense.

On defense, Texas has outperformed Oklahoma State in every category so far this season. The Cowboy’s biggest challenge, like Texas’ previous three opponents, will be to stop the prolific run attack that Texas has been utilizing in non-conference games.

“I think we’re doing a good job of establishing that in practice,” OSU cornerback Justin Gilbert said. “We’re practicing pretty heavily against the run. They have some big backs, so we have to work on going out there and stopping them.”

Last season, Ash was the quarterback who got the nod for Texas against the Cowboys. Although Oklahoma State has seen Ash in action before, it is facing an entirely different quarterback this season. While Ash had three turnovers in the game against Oklahoma State last year, he has yet to throw an interception this season. If Ash continues to progress in his passing game, the Cowboys’ secondary will have a hard time controlling Jaxon Shipley, Mike Davis, and the rest of the Texas wideouts.

“They’re a better football team overall and not just on offense,” Gundy said. “In my opinion, because the quarterback has gained some experience ... he seems to have a better understanding of what they’re trying to accomplish on offense. The running backs are making plays and running the ball effectively, which keeps the defense off the field ... experience would be the main reason that they’ve improved on offense.”