Cowboy Football Notebook: Players Are Handling the Unexpected Off Week Well, Plus a Spencer Sanders Update
STILLWATER – We’re more than halfway through the second open week in a row for Oklahoma State football following Baylor shutting down football operations following a COVID-19 outbreak within the program. This is also the second game this season the Cowboys have had postponed.
We spoke to head coach Mike Gundy Thursday morning during his weekly Zoom call with the media. He was asked about the players’ ability to bounce back after the postponement and while you’d think having gone through this the first week of the season with Tulsa would make it easier to handle
“Nothing surprised them anymore and nothing surprises the staff,” coach Gundy said of the Baylor game getting shut down. “The bounce back from the players in the Tulsa week was considerably more than it was this week. When it happened for the Tulsa game, I could kind of see some emotions in players like ‘really?’ I didn’t feel any of that this week because I just think that nothing surprises them at this point.”
Shortly following the postponement of the Baylor game, Mike Gundy said on his weekly radio show with Dave Hunziker that he and athletic director Mike Holder tried to find an opponent to play this weekend.
“Coach [Mike] Holder and I had discussed trying to find an opponent for this week and we were unsuccessful,” coach Gundy said. “I’m not sure exactly how many people, or coaches I should say, or organizations that we were able actually to pursue, but we had those discussions based on ‘we’re trying to play as many games as possible while we’re healthy and take advantage of Saturday’s.”
One of the questions asked to Gundy during the Zoom call was one that’s been talked about and thought about over the past few days: could the Cowboys have played another Big 12 school as there’s only two other teams playing this weekend.
“Our first choice would’ve been a Big 12 opponent to try and fit one in where there was an availability to potentially open one up at a later date in case somebody had an outbreak,” coach Gundy said. “I was not in those conversations; I was asked what I thought about it and I was 100% in agreement with it. I would venture to guess that the conference would – well, with this year I think everything’s free game and I think the conference would’ve been all for it. It could’ve allowed a little bit of flexibility for us and another team in this league later with an outbreak and I think the conference wants us to be able to play as many games as possible, just like we do.”
At this point in the season, there’s probably going to be cancellations each week. In fact, Tulsa’s game against No. 8 Cincinnati was postponed Thursday morning due to an outbreak in the Cincinnati program. The news also came out on Wednesday Alabama head coach Nick Saban and athletic director Greg Byrne tested positive for COVID-19. Positive tests and outbreaks aren’t if, but when.
Coach Gundy also gave an update to quarterback Spencer Sanders’ injury he sustained in the opening game of the season against Tulsa. We’ve heard the past few weeks that Sanders probably could’ve played against Kansas, but the coaching staff didn’t want to risk causing a lingering injury throughout the season.
“He’s doing just fine and [Illingworth and Sanders] are getting equal reps and seem to be doing very well,” coach Gundy said of Spencer Sanders. “He’s got to be getting close [to 100%]. You never really know until you get into a game, but I thought he was pretty close before we played Kansas, so he’s moving that way. I can’t imagine that he won’t be 100% [for Iowa State].”
With both Illingworth and Sanders sharing reps at this point, it's going to be fun and interesting to see how the Cowboy coaching staff handles which quarterback's going to get the nod against Iowa State, or are we going to see both play.