How Much Does COVID-19 Impact College Football? It Nearly Erased an Oklahoma State Win
STILLWATER -- The scene in the Oklahoma State dressing room was relief as a really sensational defensive effort could have been ruined if the Cowboys had not been able to muster up enough offense for what was an eventual 16-7 win over Turnpike neighbor Tulsa.
Long after the game had ended, there were several adults and some children standing in the west end zone of the field at Boone Pickens Stadium and standing out there with them was a tall Cowboy players dressed in a t-shirt and his football pants and cleats. Shane Illingworth's mother and stepfather moved to Stillwater from Orange County, Calf. in order to follow Shane's career. He has family living in Oklahoma that also came to the game.
Illingworth completed 4-of-5 passing for 74-yards, but it would have been a shame for his family to miss his first action as a college quarterback. They were there and fortunately so was Shane.
"There was some discussion over whether to even suit him up for the game," head coach Mike Gundy told the Cowboy Network radio crew after the game. "He had been out with secondary contact and missed 14-days in quarantine, so he had not done much the past two weeks."
Prior to that, the four-star standout from Norco, Calf. had either been the clear second team quarterback behind Spencer Sanders or he alternated with junior college transfer Ethan Bullock, who came in first against Tulsa after Sanders left with a high ankle injury.
Gundy said he had been told that Sanders' injury wasn't major, but he didn't have anymore details. That matched what Pokes Report learned as Sanders wanted to come back and play in this game. Instead, he was started on ice and treatment for the injury. Our sources tell us that he likely misses one-to-two games. That is still early and still somewhat speculative.
Illingworth came in on the last series of the third quarter with Oklahoma State still trailing Tulsa 7-3 and on the first play of his college career, threw up a jump ball down the right sideline that Tylan Wallace went up and grabbed over Hurricane corner Allie Green IV.
"We know what all three of the guys (quarterbacks) can do," Wallace said. "He is a freshman and I have to say that I was impressed with him coming out there playing on the big stage for the first time. He exceeded my expectations because he came out there and did his thing. I'm really proud of the way he played."
Mike Gundy was more reserved saying that Bullock had some bad breaks go against him when he was quarterbacking (8-13-1 for 41-yards). Protection was rough as the Oklahoma State offensive line was struggling to find some rhythm after losing young right guard Cole Birmingham early to a foot injury and then shuffling around to get the most experienced linemen in the right places. Illingworth took some hits as he delivered passes, but it did not seem to bother the 6-5, 220-pounder.
On the sidelines he came back smiling after each series. He was having fun. Now, it is likely that offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn, quarterback coach Tim Rattay and the rest of the offense staff will be exploring the things that Illingworth can do to make sure he and the offense have more fun next week against West Virginia. The Mountaineers are better on the defensive line than Tulsa.
But before worrying and planning next week and the 2:30 p.m. kick with West Virginia, just remember that if OSU played a week ago, the locker room relief, the family pictures on the field celebrating with a talented freshman son and a 16-7 win pulled out of what looked like a third quarter spiral, would never have happened. At least not the way it did and not with Shane Illingworth if the game had been last Saturday.
We all may have griped about the Tulsa-inspired delay, but it actually worked in Shane Illingworth's favor and therefore the Cowboys favor.