Spencer Sanders Looking for "Happy Medium" for Bedlam
STILLWATER — I’ve always thought that Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders most unfortunate circumstance was that he delivered a near perfect game in his first start as a Cowboy. Sanders got the start and was the starter throughout fall camp heading into the 2019 season opener at Oregon State. The Cowboys won 52-36 and the red-shirt from Denton Ryan High School completed 19-of-24 passing for 203-yards with three touchdown and no interceptions. Sanders ran for 109-yards on 13 carries. No fumbles by Sanders or any other Cowboy. Sanders has performed well since but is still looking for his “happy medium.”
Oklahoma and a battle for a solid path to the Big 12 Championship is on tap for Saturday at 6:30 in Norman. Sanders last two performances illustrate what “happy medium” means.
Against Texas in a 41-34 overtime loss, Sanders threw for 400-yards and four touchdowns. He ran for 11-yards (55 gained-44 lost) and set up a score. He was also involved in three turnovers, all leading to Texas points.
In the last game at Kansas State, Sanders threw for 108-yards and ran for nine-yards with no touchdowns but no turnovers in the 20-18 win.
"Decision making with the ball. I think he's gotten... obviously with experience and reps you get smarter with the ball, you get better with the ball," center Ry Schneider said. "Some of his reads have gotten better and overall he's grown as a leader."
"Obviously he was a helluva player in high school, and I think there was a bit of a learning curve here as there is for everyone, but especially at quarterback,” veteran receiver Dillon Stoner said. “To get to watch him get more and more comfortable over the years, and the game kind of start to slow down for him has been fun to see."
It would be fun to see and especially against Oklahoma this week. The “happy medium” is playing with that natural swagger he has and being aggressive and looking for big explosive plays, but also having the awareness to see danger and protect the football.
"We've all been harping on ball security, it's not just (Sanders), it's all of us that can be better at it, added Stoner, who dropped and pounced right back on a punt at K-State. “It's the little things that we've really been focusing on and we hold each other accountable on it. It's not just him it's all of him that are fortunate enough to carry the ball on Saturdays."
"I feel really good about where Spencer is with his composure," Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy said earlier this week. "He's turned it 360 (degrees) from where he was at this time last year. The positive about Spencer is he's ultra-competitive. You guys watch him play. He's not scared. He'll compete. He fights right to the end. We need him to adjust his composure some when things [don't] go well. Quarterbacks have to have short-termed memories. It is what it is. Most the time things go well, sometimes things don't go well, you've got to get over it really quick, and you have to be composed. He's much better this year than he was last year at this time."
The other Spencer in the game, Rattler from Oklahoma is also young and has also had some issues this season, but not so much the last two games with Texas Tech and Kansas on the other side of the ball.
"Well he's a much better player now than he was six weeks ago," Gundy said of facing Oklahoma's Spencer Rattler. "He's getting some games under his belt and getting adjusted a little bit, and making plays. Obviously he's got a strong arm, he's got some savvy. He can move around, make some plays with his legs. He's come quite a ways in four or five weeks."
As for his Spencer, Gundy seems comfortable and remember, his last three games have been against Iowa State, Texas, and Kansas State. Two of those teams beat Rattler and OU, the other one Rattler was benched in the first half before coming back in a hero's form in overtime with Texas.
The caliber of competition certainly has something to do with the "happy medium."
Sanders knows he’s capable of the “happy medium” and he’s found it in multiple games but he just hasn’t been able to rack up a streak of those efforts. Worrying about a streak can wait. This Saturday the Oklahoma State offense needs the pilot that takes positive chances and eliminates negative mistakes. In other words, Spencer Sanders holding on, but not too tight. You know, that “happy medium.”