2017 Grades: Mason Rudolph Was as Good as He’s Ever Been

Written by Kyle Porter

Coming into 2017, the strength of Oklahoma State’s football team was obviously its passing game. The wide receivers, yes, but also the guy tossing the rock to them. A lot was expected of fourth-year starter Mason Rudolph because of his trajectory over the first three seasons. To whom much is given …

And he mostly met those expectations in 2017, with a few exceptions. His overall numbers were there, even if we still left a few games shaking our heads. Let’s take a deep dive into the season that was with QB1 and wrap with a few notes about the future of the position.

Production

It sure doesn’t feel like it sitting here in December with the Camping World Bowl on deck, but Rudolph put up (by far) the best numbers he’s ever posted as a Cowboy. He led the country in yards per game (by 32 yards!) and was third in QB rating and fourth in passing TDs. His numbers in 2017 would certainly lead you to believe that Oklahoma State had a better season in 2017 than it did in 2016 or 2015.

Year Games Pct. Yds/Gm TD INT Rating
2014 3 57 284.3 6 4 154
2015 13 62.3 290 21 9 149.1
2016 13 63.4 314.7 28 4 158.9
2017 12 65 379.4 35 9 170

Rudolph threw as many interceptions this season as he has in any other season — his 2.0 percent INT percentage is still decent but is over twice his historic mark from last year — but he did show an increase in completion rate. While at times it didn’t feel like he was as accurate or as on point as he should have been, the numbers say he’s never been more so.

Our offensive expectations at Oklahoma State are outrageous (see: Comments on any post even remotely referencing Mike Yurcich), but Rudolph captained an offense that, to this point, has slightly out-paced the 2011 offense, according to BCF Toys (3.5 PPD in 2017 | 3.42 PPD in 2011).

We get caught up in the overthrows and inopportune picks (which matter, and we’ll get to shortly), but in terms of pure numbers, Rudolph was as good as it gets in college football (and as good or better than Weeden’s 2011 numbers of 72 percent | 363 YPG | 37 TD | 13 INT)

Grade: A+

Big Plays

However, throughout the season he lacked a knack for making the biggest play in the biggest moment. Twice, he had the season in his hands (OU and Kansas State), and twice he couldn’t get it done.

He did lead some thrilling victories (Texas Tech, Iowa State) just as he’s done his entire career, but it’s difficult to reconcile the numbers above with the fact that Rudolph and his offense were twice given 60 yards to score for a shot at the Big 12 title and potentially the playoff … and twice he (and they) did not get it done.

Also, what was the signature play of Rudolph’s season (or career, for that matter)? What was the moment in a monster game that you’ll remember for the next 20 years? Maybe it’s unfair to him that none stand out, but it seems like a four-year starter and the school leader in victories should have at least stamped one Big Daddy™ game over his career. Maybe it was 2014 at OU or 2015 against TCU, but neither led to a title of any kind.

Grade: B-

Rushing

I love how OSU used Rudolph in the rushing game. I love that he had twice as many rushing TDs as The Baker did. I love that, of players with 10 or more rushing TDs, nobody did it on fewer yards than Rudolph. Just look at these numbers! Rudolph had 29 rushing yards and 10 TDs. Nobody else is even close.

Rank Player Team Yds/TD
1 Mason Rudolph Okla St 2.9
2 A.J. Erdely UAB 22.7
3 Zach Green Arizona 28.2
4 Jaylen Samuels NC State 34.8
5 Trace McSorley Penn State 39.2
6 Nathan Rourke Ohio 42.0
7 Caleb Evans La-Monroe 44.5
8 Keith Ford Texas A&M 44.8
9 Ke’Mon Freeman SMU 47.9
10 Brandon Wimbush Notre Dame 54.6

The QB run (especially in the red zone) has become a staple of Mike Yurcich’s offenses, and I’m glad they opened it up his senior year (even if I held my breath every time he put his head down).

 

Overall

I supposed we should at some point discuss Keondre Wudtee’s debut and Taylor Cornelius’ trajectory since they both got playing time as well (Jalen McCleskey threw a pass, too, that we shall never discuss again). I thought Wudtee was unimpressive and Cornelius was solid.

Add their 1 percent production to what Rudolph did all year and I think you get a well above average but slightly below expectation finish. That’s probably unfair to this unit (because which QB in America wouldn’t trade their season for Rudolph’s?). But when a Big 12 title is expected, and you are twice (!) given the opportunity to shut it down but fail both times, this is what we’re left with.

Also, because they got compared so often this year, we have to talk about Baker Mayfield. The one thing I’ve been thinking about between these two is how one of the primary arguments for Rudolph is “… but the defense” while Mayfield had a (MUCH) worse unit (as well as lesser receivers) that he’s about to drag to the national championship. I hate that. Hate it. But that’s the reality of this situation.

Grade: A-

The Future

This will be storyline No. 1 come December 29. There is much chatter both in front of the scenes and behind them in Stillwater, OK about the future of the QB position. Most people I’ve talked to believe that Spencer Sanders is dynamic enough to become the starter at some point in 2018. Whether that’s Day 1, nobody knows.

But Mike Gundy hasn’t been scared to start true freshmen. Wes Lunt started Day 1. Rudolph started, like, Day 87. The future at QB is a little murkier than it is at the other offensive positions, though.

And as one of our PFB writers pointed out: If we’re going to continually praise Yurcich for pulling Rudolph out of South Carolina, we might need to start criticizing him for not having a continuation plan in place behind him (depending on how good Sanders becomes). There is no natural passing of the torch, however, and there hasn’t been in a long time at Oklahoma State. Maybe we eventually get to that spot with Sanders, but you can bet the ride to that position will be a bumpy one.

Grade: B-

  • GeoPoke

    Mike Yurcich? MIKE YURCICH?!? MIKE yurcich….

    • Darth

      mIkE yUrCiCh

      • Adam M.

        My cures itch.

        • Darth

          B
          mikE
          N
          G
          yurcicH
          A
          Z
          Is a good OC and we should all accept that.

          • Adam M.

            I know.

    • Russell Wright

      Uhhhhh …. OK ….

    • Evie Taylor

      YES, Mike Yurcich who recruted Mason Rudolph. YES, wouldn’t that be wonderful if we had Todd Monken back who recruited Wes Lunt who was only an average quarterback when he left OSU for Illinois. And let’s look at Dana Holgersen who some of you thought hung the moon as an offensive coordinator but I am wondering why he hasn’t been able to recuit as good offensively as OSU has since he left if he was really “ALL THAT”. Dana has a good QB this year but he can’t compete with Mason. Maybe we would have his QB and I guarantee you we wouldn’t have our 9-3 record. Seems to me everyone should be kissing Mike Yurcich feet for his recruit in Mason Rudolph. I know, I know, I know but Mason didn’t win the Big 12 like Weeden did. Guess what, Weeden didn’t do it by himself either. And where the heck are all those perfect people (QB & coaches) today. You all would be disappointed and complaining AGAIN because they haven’t met your expectations since that perfect year in 2011 when all the stars were aligned and we won the BIG 12.

      • GeoPoke

        That you Mike? I mean sorry we don’t like you, but have you seen Monken’s tweets? How can our eyes not wander?

        • Evie Taylor

          who has Monken recruited that is a star offensive player?? HA HA HA AHA Let me tell you. NOBODY!!! Not Mike here, just someone that pays attention to the real world.

          • GeoPoke

            You Mike’s wife? His kid? Nephew? Long-lost acquaintance? Careful in the real world, I hear they have real problems there.

        • swaggypaw

          I see what you did there..

  • Forever 14

    I agee with the overall grade, but you left off one of Weeden’s 2011 stats:
    12 wins, 1 loss.

    • Adam M.

      Rudolph can’t play defense for them.

      • Doc Holliday

        Rudolph had the chance to beat K State and OU and didn’t….and Rudolph would lay down against that Stanford defense that Weeden lit up

        • Mullet Power

          Weeden’s defense played their asses off in that game. Go back and watch Markelle Martin knock the Ty Montgomery’s helmet off in the opening minutes. Set the tone. Montgomery plays for the Packers now.

          The defense that accompanies Rudolph is hot garbage and couldn’t stop Stillwater high school’s offense.

          So long story short – it’s not an apples to apples comparison

          • Guest

            But that defense that played their asses off couldn’t stop Stanford either. Stanford missed their chances to end the game on field goals. The defense played terrible in that bowl game. The offense had to come in and be the heroes. And they were. Much like Rudolph was asked to be the same hero. And he wasn’t. So your comparison isn’t accurate. Oh and Porter pointed out that the Stillwater defense is actually better than the OU defense. Yet Baker is being the hero is being called to be. Did you even read the article?

          • Mullet Power

            dear Guest: the 2011 defense led the league in ppg allowed. Weeden’s defense was light years better than this defense. They held an NFL QB and highly ranked Stanford to 38 points. If only OSU’s D could have held OU to 38 points.

            and Yeah – i read the post. It’s the 27th post saying the exact same thing… “rudolph is awesome except when he wasn’t. Wow, we all had such high expectations”.
            and everyone (including me for some reason) is jumping in and clicking away and arguing in the comments.

            Luckily OSU played Kansas during the last week of the season which brought this season’s ppg allowed up out of the basement to ‘only’ 34.3 ppg. Only WVU, Baylor and Kansas are worse. Before the KU game, we were only better than kansas.

            Ask yourself, why is this the 27th post pinning the blame for shattered dreams/expectations on Rudolph and the offense? Why is the leader of the shit-show defense getting a pass here?

          • Guest

            Completely different offenses running completely different systems. Stanford was a run first team and each run went for an average of about 8 yards. We couldn’t stop them. If they were a Baker led unit they would have scored 60. Your argument is invalid. Oh and that soft non con against such awesome opponents like Louisiana Lafayette, Arizona, and Tulsa at 3am definitely helped those ppg numbers. Lol look at later in the season at the shootouts we got in. Look at K State. Definitely wasn’t a world beater like you are touting. Only thing they did right was get turnovers to get Weeden the ball more so he could get points off turnovers. Something Rudolph was never really great at doing.

          • Mullet Power

            i’m only using conference games in the PPG allowed on defense.
            This years offense >>>>>>> This years defense.
            Any arguments otherwise are nonsense.

        • Adam M.

          He shouldn’t be put in the position to beat someone if they score 52 points. I’m just saying Weeden doesn’t own the win/loss stat of 12-1, the overall team does. Considering the offense was on part with 2011 from a statistical view, this year’s record is indicative of the other two phases falling flat on their faces in big games.

          • Guest

            Ummmm remember A&M, K-State, Stanford, and Iowa State? Yeah pretty sure Weeden had to go and win those games.

          • Adam M.

            Except ISU beat us…

            Weeden is a better clutch player, I agree, but I’m tired of this fan base thinking that because we didn’t score 63 points it’s the offense’s fault we didn’t win.

          • Frank Eaton

            aTm scored 21 points that game. Stanford 35 with OT. KSTATE I don’t remember. Point is, TCU 41, OU 62, KSTATE 45… Mason can’t do everything for us and it’s likely that if Weeden had this team he goes 7-5?

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        • Frank Eaton

          Except Rudolph led us to more points against OU and KSU than Weeden ever did. Again, 23 PPG allowed vs 40. Our defense blows and lost us 3 games this year. End of story.

          • Forever 14

            Weeden would throw the occasional brain dead interception (see K-State, Stanford), but Weeden made the plays when he had to. And that’s the difference between 9-3 and 12-1.

          • Frank Eaton

            You’re an idiot if you guys think our record would be better this year with Brandon Weeden. Weeden went 12-1 with an awesome team. Mason just went 9-3 with horrible defense and special teams.

          • Guest

            Yet they gave Rudolph the chance to win two of the three games we lost and he couldn’t do it. End of story.

        • Evie Taylor

          Justin Blackmon motivated our team when Weeden looked like he did in the Iowa State game (a deer in the headlights). Justin was running up and down wavying his hands and telling our team to stay in it. We didn’t lite up Stanford. We went toe to toe with them and they had a loser for a kicker and we didn’t. Our kicker won that game.

  • Iceman

    Title of the article says it all. He was as good as he had ever been but not much improved between years. Certainly not bad but he just really never went from great to phenomenal.

    • zachattachone

      Yeah. Pretty clearly the third best QB in college football behind Baker and Lamar. Good enough to compete with anyone, but the complete team season was not there.

  • OSU Student

    Not giving mason any passes because he definitely shied away when it mattered the most, but in both the KSU and OU games, some of the plays that were blamed on him weren’t his fault. The biggest play, of course, was the overthrown ball to Johnson. Definitely Mason’s fault. But if Washington is standing in that spot, does he catch the ball? We’ll never know, but Washington and Mason have their timing down perfectly. Johnson and Mason do not. You can argue that it was a stupid play call if that is the case, but maybe Washington gets under that ball if he’s out there instead of Johnson. Also, mason had a dump off pass to Brown, where he could have extremely easily ran it into FG range to tie the game. He was all alone and only needed 6-7 yards for a field goal/ easier conversion for a first down. Instead, he runs laterally trying to outrun corners and safeties (as a cowboy back!!!) and only gets one yard on the play. In the KSU game, on that final drive, mason hit James in the hands on first down. He dropped it. Mason hit James in the hands on second down. He dropped it. Mason hit Hill in the hands on third down. He dropped it. The blame goes on Mason for those 4 incompletions, but three of them were not his fault.

    • Lee

      On the throw to Johnson: the db was holding on to Johnson or he would have made the play. He had at least two steps on the db and was breaking away. The db grabbed hold of Johnson and held on for dear life. Every one in the stadium and on TV saw it, but the refs did not (no plausable explanation for that.)

      • Big Daddy

        100% agreed. That “over throw” was not timing error on MR but disrupted timing by the DB play.

  • Mullet Power

    I totally get the need to keep fanning the flames (the flames that keep readers clicking on your site).
    but it’s becoming nauseating.

    Just post something asking “is Mason as good as Baker?” – the answer is no. Our rival has the best QB in college football. So THAT’S what Rudolph is constantly being compared to.

    To keep saying over and over and over and over that he wilted under pressure – and at the same time dismissing the “but what about the defense” reasoning…. you’re writing for clicks. and again – i get it.

    but it’s getting old. it’s beyond old

  • Chris Stover

    Rudolph had a good year. Great player for sure. That said, he threw a few too many picks. Probably 3 to be exact at key times that led us to not win the Big 12. That, and a porous D against OU, TCU, and K-state.

  • Big Daddy

    “he couldn’t get it done” . . ..

    Like he could have shed the holding that the 0U CB did on Tyron.
    Or that he could have caught the ball for Wash or Hill on that last KSU drive.

    So sure, MR didn’t get it done . . . . crap

    • Bootstrap Bill

      Did you watch the final series against K-state? It was choke city.

  • OSUgary

    the truth be told … i would go to battle anytime/anywhere/anywho with Mason – Zach or Brandon on my team and not take a second thought ….each of them had a ton of skill and all 3 of them were mentally tough competitors …. this Spring game we will have another great QB competition just like 2012 and it will be fun to watch … the ONLY difference between Yurcich (calls Gundy ‘Coach’) and Monken (called Gundy ‘Mike’) is
    that Monken had the balls to tell Gundy to go ‘F-himself’ and Yurcich ‘defers’ ….. Yurcich and Monken are on par with each other as far as FB/OC – IQ’s ….

    • Mullet Power

      Chelf had himself a nice OSU career too. He should have a Big XII trophy on his mantle too

      • OKState Student

        still don’t see how they called Justin Gilbert’s INT incomplete in 2013

  • JG

    I’m so tired of these articles, as if it’s supposed to make up for this train wreck of a season.

    • Michael H

      Oh please. There were highs and lows to the season. Mason was one of the premier QBs in college football. Just because the performance on the field didn’t result in the number of wins we would have liked doesn’t make it untrue.

  • KCOC10

    Mason didn’t live up to the hype. The expectations put on him are not his fault, but that is why I think he is looked at harsher than Zac and Weeden. He had a great career on the whole statistically. I just don’t feel that he progressed a lot as a quarterback throughout college and that will be a part of his legacy in addition to the school records. I don’t know how much of that is on him, Yurcich, or Gundy but it feels like he should have been better based on what he was as a true freshman.
    I hope he gets with a good team in the pros and has a long successful career. He has been a great representative for OSU.

  • Bootstrap Bill

    Weeden > Rudolph

  • Jason

    I like Rudolph and wouldn’t trade him for Mayfield but in college he hasn’t carried a team like Mayfield has. Rudolph could win us a title if he had a special teams and defense to go with him. But he does not and so we are 9-3. We shouldn’t need a game winning drive vs Tech but we did. He has been clutch in a lot of moments thru the years. He couldn’t bail us out every time. I hope he gets with a great team that can develop more of his talent. I think Mike Y developed him some but is no means a QB guro IMO