It’s been a surprisingly uninteresting battle to replace Mason Rudolph in Stillwater. Mike Gundy basically ended the debate in the spring when he said Taylor Cornelius was the lead guy.
Since then, Cornelius hasn’t lost the job, like many of us thought. In fact, Mike Gundy confirmed that he’d locked it up, when he announced the depth chart for game one after Sunday’s practice.
News from #OKState’s Sunday practice: Mike Gundy listed the QB depth chart as follow - 1) Cornelius, 2) Brown, 3) Sanders, 4) Wudtee— Mark Cooper (@mark_cooperjr) August 19, 2018
Since the announcement was made, I’ve had time to gather some thoughts on the announcement and the depth chart itself.
We Should Have Seen this Coming
Since the end of last year, the overwhelming belief was that incoming true freshman Spencer Sanders would be taking over as QB 1 this year. Less thought there was a chance for Dru Brown, and still fewer believed that former walk-on Taylor Cornelius would win the job.
We should have been smarter.
Gundy has never started someone game one of a season who hadn’t been on campus since at least the previous spring.
Wes Lunt started as a true freshman but he had arrived on campus early. Zac Robinson, Mason Rudolph, J.W. Walsh, Clint Chelf, Brandon Weeden, nor Bobby Reid, started game one of a season without having been on campus for at least five months.
Why did we think this year would be any different?
Spencer Sanders is the Future
I don’t care what the depth chart is. We all know that Spencer Sanders is the heir apparent to Mason Rudolph to lead this team into the future. But that future is going to have to wait another year.
Sanders being third tells me that the Cowboys are hoping to be able to redshirt him and never see him touch the field in 2018.
Obviously that’s barring injury, but it’s also the best thing for the Cowboys.
They’re better off letting him learn for another year and utilizing the talent and experience they have on-hand in Cornelius and Brown. Plus, as much as Gundy has seemed excited about Sanders, and people have raved about his talent level, it’s got to make you at least a little more confident in the two guys currently sitting in front of him.
We all know Coach Gundy likes experience. And if that depth chart doesn’t back that point up, nothing will.
Cornelius may not have the most in-game experience, but he has the most in-Cowboy experience, and the best built-in relationships with the players.
Behind him, the guy with the most game experience of the bunch. Gundy said himself on Sunday that that factor was a major one.
“Dru’s the backup,” Gundy said. “Spencer is just a little bit behind him due to maturity.... Experience is very important, and he’s much more comfortable just being out into the speed of the game.”
Having two guys with the kinds of experience Cornelius and Brown have is huge for the Cowboys this year, and something I don’t think we’re appreciating enough.
Which leads me to my last two points...
Dru Brown Could Still Redshirt
I’ve thought the best move that Oklahoma State could do this season is redshirt Dru Brown and Spencer Sanders and hope that Taylor Cornelius makes it through the entire season unscathed.
Brown hasn’t used a redshirt season yet, meaning he could do so this year and still be eligible to play in 2019. That would be huge for OSU.
If you’ve looked at the rest of the quarterback depth chart, there’s some real concern about next season behind Spencer Sanders if both Cornelius and Brown are gone. Wudtee is fourth. Kolar hasn’t been seen since this Spring. There are some walk-ons on campus, and a 3-star 2019 commit, but that’s it.
I’d feel more comfortable about 2019 if I knew both Brown and Sanders were coming back.
Mike Yurcich Deserves Credit and Blame
People rail against Mike Yurcich too much. He’s been a fantastic offensive coordinator.
But if you want to make one argument against Yurcich, it’s this: He hasn’t done a great job with quarterbacks.
Yes, he recruited Mason Rudolph. But he also recruited Keondre Wudtee (who’s No. 4 on the depth chart), John Kolar (who wasn’t at fall camp), and a guy now playing tight end. That’s not an overwhelmingly positive track record.
Add on top of that, none of those three guys have developed into anything. Kolar was a 4-star recruit. Yes, 4-stars flame out every year, but still, he obviously had some talent. Why couldn’t that be coached up?
Yes, Yurcich also brough in the future in Spencer Sanders, and there’s no reason to believe he won’t be great. But we all thought Wes Lunt would be great, and look how that turned out.
Also, thank goodness Dru Brown came to Stillwater this season. Think about how the QB depth chart would look if he hadn’t. Would Sanders be the back-up or would they have to put Wudtee there?
Yurcich deserves a lot of credit for his time in Stillwater. I may not have been his biggest fan at first, but I’ll admit I was wrong and will now strongly defend him. But he also deserves blame for the QB situation moving forward.