Earlier this week, it was announced that Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph underwent surgery on Monday. Rudolph, who injured his foot in the Cowboys' game against Baylor, only played one series last week against the Oklahoma Sooners; his status for the bowl game is currently uncertain. If backup quarterback J.W. Walsh were to be the starter, OSU might as well take advantage of Walsh's dual threat ability. The Cowboys have used both the read and triple option before, but if Walsh were to start in their bowl game, they should definitely make it a focus.
Walsh has shined in the option game in his time at Oklahoma State. His efforts in the option single-handedly defeated Mississippi State in 2013.
Plays like this not only succeed in red zone situations, but in short-yardage situations as well. If Walsh is in fact the new starter, the Cowboys should look into using this formation a little more.
Walsh makes the run game better just by being on the field. Even when he isn't the ball carrier, his presence makes the defense focus on him rather than the running backs.
The run game could be boosted with plays like this. When Walsh is used in the traditional option game, it opens up holes for the running backs up the middle. When the Cowboys used it against Texas Tech, for example, the defense's focus on Walsh opened up a hole for Raymond Taylor.
It opens up for the read option as well, although not always to the same extent as the previous example. With Walsh as a running threat, offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich uses plays that give Walsh a number of options at his disposal.
The Cowboys ran this play a couple of times last week against the Sooners. The play has an inside zone read, a flat route by the cowboy back and a bubble on the back side. If the end stays, as he did in the gif below, the quarterback hands the ball off.
If, however, the end crashed, the quarterback would then read the linebacker. If the linebacker jumped on the flat route, the quarterback would run upfield. If the linebacker ran to the quarterback, the QB would throw to the uncovered flat receiver.
The Cowboys also spread out the defense with four and five receiver sets and had Walsh as the primary ball carrier.
They ran this play once or twice against the Sooners but Walsh threw on both occasions.
Notice how the offensive line is blocking. There were originally seven defenders in the box before the snap, so Walsh decided to throw the ball. If the defense didn't have a lot of players in the box, Walsh could have kept it on a quarterback draw. This was an interesting idea coming from offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich and is something to keep an eye on in the future.
Hopefully the Cowboy coaching staff will be able to adjust the game plan to Walsh's strengths. While he is a fairly competent thrower, it wouldn't be smart to have him throwing 50-60 times a game. Walsh is a talented player, and in his last game as a Cowboy, it is only fair to show off those talents. If used correctly, those talents can lead Oklahoma State to an 11 win season and end the year on a high note.