Quarterback J.W. Walsh, who last week became the first Cowboys quarterback since Zac Robinson in 2007 to rush for more than 100 yards in a game, had a record-setting day as he answered the question that many were asking this week about his ability to throw the ball.
Maybe those asking forgot that last season his 170.11 quarterback rating was the fourth best ever by a freshman, behind only Michael Vick (Virginia Tech), Sam Bradford (Oklahoma) and Rudy Carpenter (Arizona State).
The third-year sophomore was 24-of-27 passing for 327 yards and four touchdowns against the Roadrunners in the fourth start of his career. His 88.9 completion percentage set the record for the highest single-game percentage (20 or more attempts) in school history, besting Brandon Weeden’s 85.7 percentage (24 of 28 passing) against Kansas in 2011.
“He played very well and we were able to distribute the ball, and get the ball in the hands of guys who could make plays. I’m going to guess there were a bunch of receivers who caught passes in this game," said OSU head coach Mike Gundy.
“We came out and played really well. I thought we had real good continuity on offense. Defensively, early we were hemorrhaging and then we really picked it up and played well on defense.
"We had the big lead going into early the third quarter and we wholesale changed our guys out, and that’s my fault. We completely took the ones off the field, and put the twos in. We need to mix guys in when we do that; I shouldn’t have done that. It threw off our rhythm and continuity on both sides of the ball."
The Cowboys scored touchdowns on five of their six first-half possessions against the Roadrunners, with Walsh throwing touchdown passes to Jhajuan Seales, Brandon Sheperd and Josh Stewart. Walsh’s 4-yard scoring run and Jeremy Smith’s 1-yard TD resulted in OSU’s 35-7 halftime lead.
Walsh added his fourth TD pass – a 22-yarder to Blake Jackson – early in the third quarter, and Clint Chelf added a pair of scoring tosses to Charlie Moore and Desmond Roland for good measure.
The Roadrunners, coached by Larry Coker, the offensive coordinator when Mike Gundy was the quarterback for the Cowboys in the 1980s, made the score respectable by scoring four touchdowns in the fourth quarter when the game was decided.
The Cowboys first-team defense was outstanding in only allowing Mississippi State three points in last week’s season opener, and they did the job against UTSA. The Roadrunners drove 71 yards in 13 plays in the first quarter to tie the game 7-7. But defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer’s team did the job the rest of the first half.
Walsh’s 19-yard touchdown pass to Sheperd put the Cowboys back on top 14-7 and linebacker Shaun Lewis intercepted Eric Soza’s pass on the first play of UTSA’s next possession.
The Cowboys led 28-7 when Ryan Simmons, the sophomore linebacker from San Antonio, intercepted Soza’s pass and returned it 28 yards to the UTSA 32-yard line. Four plays later, Jeremy Smith scored to give OSU a 35-7 lead going into halftime.
"Overall, the guys played good. That’s a good football team. They’re pretty skilled, and that quarterback is a good player. The have two or three wideouts that can run and catch the ball. They’re going to win some games this year," said Gundy.
The Cowboys return to action next Saturday when they host Lamar at Boone Pickens Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m.