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OSU Has Had Success Bouncing Back While Playing Multiple QBs

Whether it’s a QB carousel or a defined role, OSU has proven it can win with two QBs.




Our nine-month drought without football will come to end on Friday when Oklahoma State opens its season Oregon State in Corvallis. For the Cowboys, it’s probably seemed more like nine years.

Just three times during the last decade has OSU failed to reach double-digit wins — 2012 (8-5), 2014 (7-6) and last year (7-6). Fortunately, Gundy’s team always bounced back with a 10-win season. The uncertainty at quarterback might bring up doubts about keeping that streak alive, but maybe it shouldn’t.

Gundy does have a plan which, for the time being, involves playing both Spencer Sanders and Dru Brown, but who will start and how those snaps get divvied up is anybody’s guess.

Coincidentally, both of those bounceback seasons also came with multiple quarterbacks at the helm.

The most recent rebound was in 2015 when Oklahoma State blasted off to a 10-0 start fueled by residual fumes from Mason Rudolph’s 2014 Bedlam win and a 2-1 finish to his would-be redshirt season. But J.W. Walsh also made huge contributions to the offense. Before that, it was the 2013 team led, at different times, by Clint Chelf and Walsh that finished 10-3 and just missed out on a conference championship.

Both of those teams utilized multiple passers, but each did so in different ways.

In 2015, it was no question who would start. Mason Rudolph had grasped the reins of the offense and provided a much-needed spark following a five-game losing streak in 2014. Despite sharing reps in short-yardage and goal-line situations with the more proficient runner, J.W. Walsh, it was Rudolph’s team.

This 2019 team shouldn’t have the issues that 2015 team had in short-yardage situations or in the running game as a whole. But there still is the possibility that both QBs have a role in the offense, and even at the same time. Sean Gleeson has utilized two and sometimes three quarterbacks at once, and if it brings value to the offense, all the better.

But in 2013, the rotation was more about instability than a situational substitution. After a close race throughout fall camp, senior Clint Chelf got the nod to start in Houston when the Cowboys opened up against Mississippi State — but that was short-lived. After just six pass attempts he was pulled for Walsh.

So began a quarterback carousel that lasted all season. Each passer got his shot with Chelf finishing the year as the starter. The Cowboys, thanks largely to a very good defense, still finished with 10 wins and were this close to winning two Bedlams and two Big 12 titles in three seasons.

If we look at Gundy’s tenure on the whole, those two seasons seem to be more the exception than rule.

So… when Oklahoma State has a franchise passer, it wins at a much higher clip than when it doesn’t (shocker). That’s probably true at any school, but at OSU the difference is drastic. In those one-QB years OSU went 85-32 (.726). In the multi-QB years it went 36-27 (.571). [PFB]

Leaning on multiple guys to fill the role of QB1 is obviously not the ideal situation, so if one of the two takes the job by force in the these first couple of weeks, I’m sure Gundy would be as happy as any fan would. But if that isn’t in the cards for OSU, at least Gundy has shown the ability to bounce back from a down year regardless.

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