Although Kansas University’s football team does not know for sure which Oklahoma State quarterback it will face at 2:30 today in Memorial Stadium, the Jayhawks know one thing — whichever Cowboy starts will be awfully inexperienced.
For a defense that features mostly juniors, seniors and even a couple of fifth-year guys in its starting lineup, the Jayhawks see this as a potential advantage in a game in which they figure to have only a few.
“Anytime you’re playing a person that’s not as experienced as a senior or a junior, it can help,” KU senior linebacker Tunde Bakare said. “Experience plays a role in each and every game.”
If it’s Wes Lunt the Cowboys turn to, they’ll be counting on a true freshman who has played in three college games, finished just one and played six plays in the Cowboys’ last two games combined. The 6-foot-4, 211-pound rookie from Rochester, Ill., earned OSU’s starting QB job this summer largely because of his big frame and even bigger arm.
Lunt has completed 51 of 75 passes (68 percent) for 588 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions.
If it’s the 6-2, 205-pound J.W Walsh the Cowboys hand the ball to, they’ll be counting on a red-shirt freshman who played in relief for two games and started their most recent game, a home loss to Texas two weeks ago.
Walsh has completed 52 of 78 passes (67 percent) for 797 yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions. He also owns the rushing advantage over Lunt, having rushed for 159 yards and one TD, while Lunt has yet to attempt a run.
“Both quarterbacks present a little bit different problem,” KU defensive coordinator Dave Campo said. “Walsh is a winner-type guy who throws OK and runs OK, and he makes things happen because he knows how to play football. The other guy, Lunt, has got a big arm and is not quite as mobile.”
Regardless of which guy is taking the snaps, the KU players believe there will be ways to get under their skin.
“You wanna get at him,” KU senior defensive end Josh Williams said. “If you get after a young quarterback and hit him a couple of times, that’ll rattle him. That’s with any young player. If they get rattled, then you can take advantage of that.”
Added senior defensive end Toben Opurum: “We’re gonna do everything we can. Any chance we can get to intimidate them and maybe bring more pressure … ”
Bakare said it usually is pretty easy to decipher when someone gets rattled during the heat of battle.
“Once you hit somebody, you definitely can tell,” he said. “And that can change the game.”
Regardless of which tactics the Jayhawks resort to, the plan is to keep things clean even if they would not divulge what they had in mind.
“There’s a lot that goes on out there on the field, man,” Williams said.
“Within the rules, within the rules,” added Bakare. “Hitting, getting hands in his face, making sure it’s not an easy pocket for him, whatever we can do.”
While the inexperience of OSU’s quarterbacks seems to be an advantage for KU’s defense, particularly since it’s the savvy veteran Campo making the calls, nearly every KU defender made sure to point out that they did not expect anything to come easy.
“You gotta keep calm,” Bakare said. “Just because somebody’s a freshman doesn’t mean they’re no good. These guys are definitely skilled, and that’s why they’re starting for them.”
Added Williams, who said he could not remember facing many freshmen QBs during his days at Nebraska: “It’s not very common. Normally guys get in and learn the system. You also have to realize that no one’s gonna put a true freshman out there if he isn’t a good player.”