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Mike Gundy Has Taken Up Residence on Spencer Sanders Island

The head coach rides for QB1



I’m not here to talk about what’s right or wrong, only to comment on what is reality.

Reality: Spencer Sanders is T4 nationally in INT (9) and T2 in fumbles (5).
Reality: He is tied with New Mexico State QB Josh Adkins for most turnover-prone player in the country with 14 total.

Other reality: Sanders only has one more INT than Trevor Lawrence.
Other reality: Rudolph threw just as many picks in his second year.
Other reality: Rudolph fumbled five times in his third year.

Again, save the sermons. This is a #factsonly zone. It’s been well documented that I’m riding this ship to the bottom of the ocean, so I don’t need to hear your hollering or the other side of the argument.

Apparently neither does Mike Gundy. After he played QB hot potato early in this decade, he’s picked his horses and ridden them into the ground the last two seasons. Maybe this isn’t a surprise and context probably matters, but I’ve been ? at his recent press conferences defending No. 3.

To start …

“To play quarterback at any level, you have to have good ball security in the pocket,” Gundy said on Monday. “We worked hard on it for two weeks, and he was better. He put one on the ground in the fourth and they picked it up for a touchdown, made it look worse. If they recovered it and just get on the ball and we hold them to a field goal, then it’s different. That’s his responsibility, he knows that and he understands that. We will continue to work and get him better.”

That’s … a big if!

Gundy wasn’t done though.

“He made a poor throw at the end of the first half. People will say what happened? I don’t know what happened. If I had known what happened I would have fixed it before it happened. I just know sometimes that happens.

“Arguably, the most decorated quarterback to ever play here, other than me was Mason (Rudolph).”


“I saw Mason against Oklahoma pull an RPO and throw it right to a safety in the back of end zone on first-and-goal from the six-yard line. I don’t have any idea why he did that. [Sanders’] demeanor and the way he handled the offense, since I said he got flustered at Texas Tech, he was good [against Baylor]. He was like a seasoned veteran. He was fine and was communicating. He got off the field, he talked to Sean [Gleeson] and he was doing really well. He understood it and he got it, even when he missed reads.”

I actually agreed with this on Saturday. Sanders was really good for most of the first half with mediocre (at best) offensive line play. Again, it’s difficult to parse through what’s to be laid at the feet of the OC, the head coach and the QB for his reads, but generally speaking I thought Sanders was solid for much of the game against Baylor.

Back to Gundy.

“When Rudolph was at his best here, he would still miss a couple reads in a half. That is normal, because there is a lot going on. I think Sanders missed four total in the game. For a guy at his progression at his age, there is nothing wrong with that. That is going to happen. All of that was good.

“Forget the throw at the end of the first half. If he doesn’t drop the ball and they don’t run it in for a touchdown, we are not really having this discussion. He had improved and he had gotten better. He will get better each week, I guarantee you. The guy coaching him knows what he is doing. He will get him better. Sanders is a very prideful young man. The only issue he needs to work on is thinking that he can play a perfect game. He will accept responsibility. He will tell you he is wrong. He will tell you it is his fault. He wants to play a perfect game and that is not going to happen.”

There’s a lot to digest, and I’m pretty fascinated by it. Remember when Rudolph used to throw for like 450 in a Big 12 win, and Gundy would be like, “[shrugs] Yeah, he was fine. Gotta watch the tape.” Now he’s going to the mat for somebody who has been objectively bad the last few weeks.

The argument here is that he doesn’t really have a choice — Dru Brown for 20 quarters? OK — and he wants to maintain Sanders’ confidence, but I’m also curious if he sees something the rest of us can’t see.

The consensus on these internet streets is that No. 3 is Bobby Reid No. 2. If you only watched the last two games, it would be hard to disagree. But there is a world in which Sanders rights the ship, and it’s smooth sailing for the next three seasons. I want to live in that world — badly want to live in it — and it sounds like, based on the way he’s currently talking about his QB1, Gundy does too. Regardless of whether it ever comes to fruition, Gundy has pretty firmly built his mansion on Spencer Sanders Island, and I believe I am renting the poolside cabana out back.

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