Mike Gundy is taking a wait and see approach with his starting quarterback Spencer Sanders.
The redshirt sophomore from Denton, Texas, suffered what was called a “lower extremity” injury after playing just one drive in the season opener against Tulsa, and missed the remainder of the game.
On Monday, the Oklahoma State football coach said it won’t be until the middle of the week until they are certain if Sanders would be healthy enough to play in Week 2.
“We booted him up. We’ll take it off on Tuesday and put him out there Wednesday and go from there,” Gundy said.
Sanders’ health could prove more pivotal considering the carousel that occurred on the Oklahoma State offensive line in Saturday’s game.
The Cowboys utilized nine offensive linemen throughout the opener, with redshirt freshman Cole Birmingham – who started at right guard – suffering an injury that Gundy said was more severe than that of his starting quarterback.
“We’ll find out on him. His was a little more serious,” Gundy said. “We’ll know about all of them, because they all get put in boots, but his was more than what the quarterback’s was.”
If Sanders isn’t ready to roll for the Big 12 Conference opener against West Virginia, the Cowboy coach wasn’t quick to anoint true freshman quarterback Shane Illingworth as the likely starter in his stead.
“We haven’t got that far yet,” Gundy said. “You know, we’ve got three guys available, and we’ll have to make that decision based on practice reps. Good news is, we don’t have to practice until Tuesday, so we’ll figure that out on Tuesday afternoon.”
Junior college transfer Ethan Bullock worked as the backup for Sanders, and his performance was less than stellar. He completed 8 of 13 pass attempts for 41 yards and an interception – his last pass before being replaced by Illingworth – and was sacked four times.
The Oklahoma State offense went three-and-out on its first three drives with Bullock behind center.
After the coaching staff switched to the true freshman, the offense instantly clicked – finally getting senior receiver Tylan Wallace involved – and the Cowboys scored their first touchdown of the season on his first drive.
“I thought he was composed and executed very well,” Gundy said of Illingworth on Monday. “I don’t think we could have asked him to do any more than what he did, so we were pleased with his play.”
Aside from the obvious stats and production in scoring drives, there were also other notable differences between the two backup quarterbacks.
One of note was taking a loss of yards when being forced to scramble out of the pocket.
Both backups were forced into a situation of having to head for the sideline with defenders in pursuit while still looking downfield.
Bullock’s one instance, he ran out of bounds on a first down for a four-yard loss to make it a second-and-long, which the Cowboys couldn’t overcome. Illingworth also faced a similar situation and instead of taking a loss, he threw the ball out of bounds – for his only incomplete pass – and kept the Cowboys in range for a manageable field goal for Alex Hale that made it a six-point game with less than five minutes remaining.
“It’s OK to throw it away and play another down, obviously instead of taking a loss or force it into coverage,” Gundy said. “For the most part for the situation (Illingworth) was in, he played well.”