By most measures, Taylor Cornelius passed the week two test. I wrote last week about what we as a fanbase should’ve wanted to see from him against South Alabama. I’ll compare his performance to the points I made last week and provide thoughts on what we should want to see out of him for Oklahoma State’s first real test of the season.
Getting Settled In
The biggest key for Corndog in last weeks’ game was to just get settled in to the ball game and look comfortable. He certainly looked more poised in last weeks’ game than in week one. He didn’t put up as good of numbers last week, but he wasn’t missing some of the easy throws that he did in week one. It isn’t necessarily encouraging that he threw yet another “free play” ball out of bounds, but he didn’t make many close and intermediate range mistakes. He got the game one jitters behind him and looked more like the Taylor Cornelius that we will likely see for the rest of the season, which to me was the most important thing.
Here is a great example of two back-to-back good throws that Cornelius made. He hit a wide-open Tyron Johnson over the middle and then threw a beautiful fade to Tylan Wallace in the end zone.
WATCH: Cornelius to Johnson and Wallace takes #OKState 71 yards and into the end zone in just 23 seconds!— Cowboy Football (@CowboyFB) September 9, 2018
#Big12FB on @FOXSports pic.twitter.com/5k0sXKsURV
Numbers Don’t Matter
Last week I wrote that it didn’t matter how many yards Cornelius threw for if they felt like empty yards (like the five yard swing out to Chuba Hubbard that went for 55 yards that we saw in week one). To prove that the numbers are far less important than we think they are, Cornelius finished the game with just one touchdown pass to pair with two interceptions. He had more passing yards than week one with 428 on 25/40 passing. For comparison, he had 295 yards on 25 completions in week one. Even though he had a worse touchdown-to-interception ratio and a worse completion percentage, his week two performance felt much more encouraging than week one.
This video is a great example of hitting on the short and intermediate stuff. Here are most of Tylan Wallace’s 10 catches, some on quick slants and some on longer out-routs.
Tylan Wallace (@OfficialTylan2) was Superman against South Alabama. The #OKState receiver had an impressive stat line. 10 receptions, 166 yards, TD. pic.twitter.com/oHOYIWVJ3H— Dylan Buckingham (@DylanBuckingham) September 10, 2018
Is The Deep Ball Dialed In?
It wasn’t really there last week, but it doesn’t need to be. Of course it would help, but Cornelius can still be effective by making good decisions and executing the short and intermediate throws. If he has his confidence, taking care of the ball and hitting on the short and intermediate stuff (with a connection on one or two deep balls per game) he’ll be perfectly fine. He doesn’t need to do it all for the offense because of the stable of backs that the Cowboys can deploy.
Taylor Cornelius looked good last week against South Alabama. He put a nice touch on a fade to Tylan Wallace in the end zone where only Tylan could get it (above), which was impressive. He connected on most of his short and intermediate passes, made a couple of bad decisions including a horrendous interception in the end zone, still didn’t look great on the deep ball, but overall generally seemed collected. However...
Boise State is not South Alabama. This is not another pushover “group-of-five” team. This is a squad that has finished in the top 25 in seven out of the last 10 years. Sure they get a cupcake schedule because of the conference they’re in, but this is not a game to be taken lightly. They are ranked for a reason. Because this weeks opponent is drastically more difficult than the last, a whole new set of expectations should be set for QB1. Lets dive in.
How Does Cornelius Handle Pressure
Because boy is there gonna be pressure. Oklahoma State could very well find itself down multiple scores in the second half. I think it is important to look at how Taylor Cornelius handles his first ever important game. One where if you mess up, you don’t have a 20+ point cushion. If OSU finds itself down 10+ in the second half or down at all within five minutes, how does Cornelius handle it?
Thankfully he has one of the deepest running backs corps in the nation to lean on but does he help lead OSU down the field or does he throw a telegraph interception? I doubt that this will be a game where either team will be comfortable in the fourth quarter. Brett Rypien is an experienced quarterback who is a legitimate NFL prospect. Taylor Cornelius has played meaningful snaps in two games over the last five years. Comparing Cornelius’ fourth quarter chops to Rypien in a week should tell us some things.
Does He Have What It Takes To Help Lead OSU To A Win Over A Top 25 Team
I think this is important because it could show how OSU handles its quarterback situation later in the year. This is sort of rehashing a lot of things I’ve already mentioned, but can he survive in a pressure situation late in a game, can he play well enough to keep OSU in the game, things like that are important here. If he plays well and keeps OSU in the game late in to the fourth, the coaching staff will likely have confidence in trusting him to compete with teams like OU, West Virginia and TCU in November.
If he struggles most of the game, the coaching staff may start to look in to playing Dru Brown or Spencer Sanders to see if they might be better options for the late season slate. Cornelius doesn’t necessarily have to lead OSU to a win to have a successful day (because the defense, offensive line, game plan, etc can blow the game, its not like we blame Mason Rudolph for last years’ TCU loss) but he has to at least keep OSU in the game.
Does Cornelius Make Mistakes That Cost OSU The Game
I’m not saying that Corn Dog isn’t allowed to make mistakes. But he has telegraphed interceptions in the end zone in both of OSU’s first two games. That probably won’t fly against a team like Boise State. If the Pokes are driving down the field to tie the game, take the lead, etc. in the second half and the possession ends in an interception in the end zone, its not going to be pretty. And if he does make a mistake like that, can he redeem it by leading a scoring drive on the next possession? The interception at the 2:08 mark of this video was uh, not good.
It probably seems like I’m singling out all the ways that Cornelius can fail, but I sincerely hope that Gundy is able to ride with him all year. These are all just things to look for in terms of boxes that Cornelius can check to reassure fans that he is “the guy”. Spencer Sanders comes with a lot of fan fair as a former four-star recruit and Dru Brown comes with a certain level of intrigue of a former starter at an FBS school. Everyone is excited to see what each can bring to the table and some fans are over the whole Taylor Cornelius phase. This game is a big one for Cornelius to prove himself and I absolutely hope he does it.