PFB - Mike Gundy on the Difficulty of Choosing a Backup Quarterback

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Greenhorn
Feb 17, 2018
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For the first time since Mason Rudolph was slinging the rock around Boone Pickens Stadium, this was supposed be the season where only one Cowboy quarterback was talked about.

Spencer Sanders was, and is, Oklahoma State’s outright starter when healthy. The problem is Sanders wasn’t healthy that long into the Pokes’ 16-7 season-opening win against Tulsa.

Sanders took three hits on the Cowboys’ opening drive that left him hobbling. After a fumble ended OSU’s second drive after only one play, Sanders went back to the locker room and didn’t return.

It left OSU’s coaching staff in an interesting predicament, one that OSU coach Mike Gundy said is one of the toughest for head coaches to make.

“It’s extremely difficult [to choose a backup quarterback],” Gundy said Monday. “It’s become the hardest part of offensive football for a head coach, in my opinion, in that they don’t get as many reps as they should get.

“Sadly enough, I was thinking about that a few months ago in that there can be good quarterbacks that really never show up because they don’t get enough practice or work with the ones. For example, Joe Burrow. That can happen at times just based on the way things fall, who the starter should be, who the backup should be.”

Predictably (and justly), starters get the lion’s share of reps in practice, but without an extensive look at QBs two and three on the roster, it can be tough to judge who should go in after given the small sample size.

Gundy mentions Joe Burrow, who transferred from Ohio State down to LSU before becoming a national champion, Heisman winner and No. 1 NFL Draft pick. But the later in his news conference, Gundy brought up a scenario that was more relatable to OSU fans as to how some guys perform better in games than in practice.

“I’d say 75 percent of the time you can tell in practice, but it’s not always that way,” Gundy said. “Sometimes you find out more in a game. There’s so much more to being a quarterback. You can look good in practice and throw good, but the savvy, your ability to handle the pressure, composure, your willingness to throw a ball away, just different things. A lot of times you can’t see that in practice. You see it in games, and that’s what I was referring to that sometimes we don’t find out about quarterbacks until it’s too late.

“We didn’t know what we had in Brandon Weeden until he got in and started playing two or three games. He looked good in practice and all that, and then there’s times he would do things that would make you scratch your head. Then he got in games, and we were like, ‘Why was this guy not playing earlier?’ You find out about quarterbacks sometimes a lot later than you should.”

With Zac Robinson injured heading into a matchup with Colorado in 2009, Gundy and Co. started Alex Cate at quarterback. Cate played the entire first half, where he went 0-for-9 and threw an interception.

Brandon Weeden started the second half and led OSU to a 31-28 win before going on to start for OSU in 2010 and 2011 where OSU would go a combined 23-3, win a Big 12 Championship and a Fiesta Bowl. Again, all that came after Weeden was put behind a guy who went 0-for-9 against Colorado.

The Ethan Bullock/Shane Illingworth ordeal has its own set of variables. Illingworth hadn’t gotten the opportunity to even be at practice much the past few weeks because of contact tracing, so it made more sense to go with Bullock, who had been at practice. But, just like with Weeden, it seems as though OSU has found its heir apparent just a game into his college career.

The post Mike Gundy on the Difficulty of Choosing a Backup Quarterback appeared first on Pistols Firing.

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