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Film Look: Two Key Takeaways from OSU’s Homecoming Loss to Baylor

Spencer Sanders decision making and a nice game plan from the Baylor defense.



Oklahoma State lost their second game in a row this past Saturday in Stillwater. The Baylor Bears rolled into town and defeated the Cowboys 45 – 27, even though OSU was in the lead for a good chunk of this one.  The Pokes racked up 469 yards of total offense on the day, and below I’ll cover my key takeaways from their third Big 12 loss on the season.

Decision Making

I touched on this in my film review after the Cowboys’ loss to Texas Tech, but we continue to see the up and down decision-making of redshirt freshman quarterback Spencer Sanders. In Saturday afternoon’s loss, things started off really well for the young QB. He was doing something we have seen him struggle with at times this season, hitting the checkdown receiver.

The checkdown — a lot of times to a running back/fullback/tight end — is the last passing option when all the other receivers are covered. Sanders has often forced a throw, taken a sack or scrambled too early (albeit sometimes for huge gains) as opposed to hitting his checkdown. Well, against the Bears, he did it early and often as we see in the clip below.

As Sanders drops back to pass, he surveys the field and see that his outlet, Cowboy Back Jelani Woods, is open out to the flat. A quarterback should only take around 2.8 seconds to make a pass, and Sanders gets the ball away as the pocket begins to shrink around him.

In the next clip, we see him point out the Baylor blitz before the snap, which is again something that has been tough for him this year. You’ll see that he points out the blitz and then quickly makes a decision to run away from it after the snap. This may have been the play call all along, but Sanders’ pre-snap field vision improvement is a positive takeaway on this play.

In addition, we continue to see him make nice throws on quick hitches, slants and outs, and he runs the offense very efficiently when they are moving quickly.

However, even though we saw improvements, there were still some negatives as well. One thing in particular, which was brought up on the Tape Doesn’t Lie Podcast, was Sanders’ persistence in trying to break all of his runs outside. Instead of getting up field and sliding, he is always trying to break the big play around the end, an example shown in the clip below.

I’m not saying he would’ve gained a first down, but if he tucks it and slides here, he gets at least a couple more yards, instead of trying to get around the edge and barely getting anything. He has enough speed to get away with it sometimes, and he was able to make huge plays with this style of play in high school, but sometimes it’s better to just pick up a few inside than risk it around the edge.

And, then there are the fumbles…

Like I discussed in that Texas Tech post, it’s going to be a roller coaster ride for a QB during his first year running the team. It is promising to see him improving in certain areas of his game week over week, but there are still some glaring issues (… turnovers…) they need to be cleaned up.

Stopping Tylan and Chuba

I normally focus these posts on specific plays or things I saw from the Oklahoma State offense, but for my second takeaway I wanted to point out something more specifically geared towards the Baylor defense. The Bears came out with the mindset that we’ve seen many other teams try to accomplish this season, not get beat by Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace. They were able to limit Wallace to six catches for 69 yards, and even though Hubbard had a great performance with 171 yards rushing, it took him 32 carries to get there.

One thing BU did that stood out to me was something very similar to what Texas Tech did a couple of weeks ago. The Bears — specifically when the Cowboys were in the diamond formation that they’ve used so frequently this season — would move an additional defender into the box to stop the run, and shade their safety over to the side Tylan Wallace was on. This left the opposite side receiver in one on one coverage, but OSU just couldn’t take advantage of it consistently enough, similar to what happened against the Red Raiders.

The video below from’s Sam Bradshaw illustrated what Tech did against the Cowboys.

And, here’s an example of what happened this past weekend against the Bears.

The tough thing about this is, until Mike Gundy and Sean Gleeson become more comfortable with Sanders and Sanders becomes more comfortable with himself and receivers not named Wallace, we may see this continue to happen as the season continues.

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