Spencer Sanders produced a good debut season as Cowboys quarterback.
Good. Not great.
And that’s OK. Most first-year QBs – especially freshman starters – would welcome such a season. Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year. School freshman passing record. An average of 13.32 yards per completion, good for second in the Big 12 and 27th nationally.
Now it’s up to Sanders to do more, to take the next step, dare we say, to being great? Sanders has that potential, with a rich prep career spent winning and leading and willing his team repeatedly to wins as proof.
And sure, this ain’t high school. Still, it’s an indicator, of skills and intangibles, that suggests there’s much more for Sanders to tap into. And under the tutelage of new quarterback coach Tim Rattay, Sanders seems responsive to what is needed.
“I feel like we’ve got a very close connection,” Sanders said last week in talking about his position coach. “I’ve learned a lot of things. He’s slowing the game down for me quite a bit. He’s getting me through my reads a half a second faster than I was last year.”
In the pocket, with ill-intentioned pass rushers threatening, a half-second can be the difference in a big play and a busted play.
There may be no greater indicator of success this fall for OSU than the play of Sanders. If he thrives, shaking the inconsistency that plagued him at times a year ago, the Cowboys offense looks elite, with plenty of talent – elite talent – surrounding him.
Sanders stands as the clear-cut No. 1. Touted recruit Shane Illingworth, a true freshman out of California, has shown well this preseason. Junior college Ethan Bullock is also in the mix behind Sanders. Nolan McLean, a baseball recruit from North Carolina who’s joined workouts, has displayed a strong arm.
Rattay definitely has talent to work with. And he’s making an impression.
“He’s very mature,” Gundy said. “I think he’s a quarterback guy from the standpoint that he relates to the players. We’ll see as the season moves on, but how I feel about him at this particular time is really good.”