Thinking about the Oklahoma State-Central Michigan over the weekend was a little like thinking about a $30,000 wedding for your daughter at which your uncle got belligerently drunk and the best man speech looked like it was pulled off of YouTube that morning. In other words, we spent well into the five figures and got excited for six months for THAT?
But still, there were bright spots and none more so than No. 2, Mason Rudolph. Yes, he missed passes (too many of them, really) and yes, he made bad decisions but you can tell with the great ones.
And Rudolph is going to be a great one. He hasn’t necessarily been great just yet. He was above average against Baylor and good (but not great) against OU, Washington and Central Michigan.
This isn’t about right now, though. This is about the next 40ish games.
A 22/32 line for under 300 yards and just one touchdown isn’t going to blow the doors off of anybody’s house, but with Rudolph, in a still-underdeveloped offense (for reasons unbeknownst to me), it’s the little things that make a big difference.
Little things like rolling through progressions like a junior or senior — not a four-game sophomore. Watch this.
All-world tailback flaring out to the sideline? Check.
— Adam Lunt (@gopokes422) September 4, 2015
Daxx Garman couldn’t do that if you gave him the controller and told him you weren’t going to rush.
It’s little things like willingly throwing passes away even after extended plays outside of the pocket. Brandon Weeden was the best at that.
Little things like staying in the pocket an extra beat so your biggest receiver could create some separation.
Little things like understanding the flow of a road game against a MAC team and knowing that you have to answer quickly after Central Michigan takes a lead early in the third.
“As the game progressed, we had to put some points up,” Rudolph said. “We try to keep an even keel throughout the game and try to keep ourselves calm. But obviously, when you’re down and you need to score there’s that added urgency.”
He would do just that in five plays to take the lead back for good and all but guarantee OSU would head to Austin in late September with a perfect 3-0 record.
“I feel like I can do it when the opportunity presents itself when there’s a lane like that,” Rudolph told the Oklahoman about his run. “Not quite Zac Robinson at all, but I’m trying to get it done however I can.”
“It was a good thing for offense at that time,” said Mike Gundy. “Biggest play of the game for us. He moved around and made some plays with his legs. That’s such a threat for an offense – when a quarterback can move around.”
So it was the QB with the golden arm who made the play of the night with his legs. Again, it’s the little things with him.
To be sure, Rudolph has a long way to go before he’s talked about as an elite QB nationally. But with the speed of his progression at the end of last season, I have zero doubt he’ll reach that plateau.
“The team did a good job of competing and fighting back against adversity,” said Rudolph (sounding a lot like Gundy). “Obviously, there are a lot of things we can correct, and we will do that. I feel like I didn’t play my best game. I was a little rusty, and so was the offense at times. We’ve got an extended week of preparation. I’m excited to get back to work.”
The great ones always are.