Rudolph's Next Step Might Not Be His Own

Former CRFF contributor Thomas Fleming once again posted something great, now at Pistols Firing, but it opens the door to what is an ongoing annoyance for many Oklahoma State fans.

"On paper, Mason Rudolph has been excellent this season. He has already thrown for over 2,200 yards and has 14 touchdowns this season. He logged 220 yards and a touchdown in a solid passing performance against Kansas.

But while Rudolph is an efficient passer, he is by no means perfect. His biggest weakness actually has nothing to do with his passing ability; rather, it’s completely mental. Rudolph’s biggest weakness is his indecisiveness, and it showed in the Cowboys’ 44-20 win against the Jayhawks on Saturday."

Gotta love Thomas Fleming analysis. His move to PFB is just the next step in what should be a career involving this stuff.

I live for his breakdowns, which are always fascinating and accessible, even for those who are not "students" of the game.

But this one is a little more "spot on" than normal.

In the Big 12, having a good QB is not enough. You need someone who can put the team on his back when the situation demands it, and you need an OC who's willing to let that happen.

But you also need a head coach who's willing to let his guys "do their thing."

Mike Gundy is NOT one of those head coaches.

Now before everyone goes all "YOU WANT TO GET RID OF MIKE GUNDY," that's an emphatic NO. I'm fine with HC Mullet. But that doesn't mean I don't get to criticize what I don't like.

And I don't like his fear of mistakes.

You've heard the mantra "protect the ball."

You've heard Gundy talk about how the QB needs to manage the game and get the ball to the playmakers.

You've also heard that if you're not making mistakes, you're not trying.

In the greatest QB season in OSU history, led by the greatest QB in OSU history, Brandon Weeden tossed 37 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. That's 2.85 TDs/gm and 1 INT/gm. That's a decent amount of interceptions, but if you look back at all the TDs and "key" throws...3rd downs, 4th downs...where he made quick decisions and zipped the ball into space and kept a drive going, those were examples of THE QB MAKING PLAYS. He didn't make those plays without taking chances.

That is a concept with which Gundy is not familiar...or maybe he is just not comfortable.

Rudolph right now is on pace for 26 TDs and 4 INTs this season, presuming a bowl game. That's 2 TDs/gm and 0.29 INTs/gm. While his overall rating is slightly higher than last season, his raw and adjusted QBR are both down halfway through 2016. The opponents are only getting tougher as the season finishes out.

He's got the ability. He's more mobile than Weeden. He's got adequate arm strength. He's shown he can make the key throws.

Is it his ability to see the field, to anticipate what will be open, or is it coaching?

Because I think it's coaching.

I'm confident that Gundy has sent down the edict from on high that the ball is NOT to be turned over. Which means you have a QB that could become hesitant to make quick decisions. A QB that does NOT see himself as a playmaker. A QB that can be hesitant to "zip" one in there, or throw it up to his stud in good coverage who will make a play. A QB who is trying to decide if that throw is the right throw, while standing in the pocket. That is no bueno.

"These were not the only examples of Rudolph being indecisive. Sometimes, on third downs especially, he waits too long for a route to develop instead of pinpointing a receiver or taking his check down."

You don't win the Big 12 with a QB who is NOT a playmaker, and having the ability to be a playmaker isn't enough. You have to believe it. Being indecisive tells me (an admitted amateur) that you are afraid of making the wrong decision, that you're not confident in what you're about to do.

I've said all along that Holgorsen, Monken, and Weeden gave Gundy ulcers. That's the main reason you have Yurcich, who's drawn up plenty of good game plans and has a pretty good eye for QB talent. Remember Baylor 2013? OU 2014? But there is no question that the reins of the offense reside in Coach Gundy's hands. We've seen it too many times. The 2015 Cactus Bowl is the blatant example. That was a pretty good defense that Mike Yurcich bludgeoned in the first half, only to have Gundy shut the whole thing down for the 2nd half, which resulted in the need for a last minute interception to seal the deal.

I don't expect him to be Weeden, but I don't want him to be Gundy either. He's got to take some shots, and I don't mean sacks.

I'll say it here, and anywhere else with enough characters to convey the thought...

Mason Rudolph is being coached to NOT make mistakes. He's NOT being coached to make plays and win games.

It's the "prevent defense" of QB coaching.

Especially if you play in the Big 12.

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