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OSU’s Crowded QB Room Will Provide a Case Study for the New Redshirt Rule

How will Mike Gundy use the new redshirt rules with his logjam of backup QBs?

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When the Cowboys venture out onto Lewis Field next Thursday for what should be a largely inconsequential scrimmage with Missouri State, their biggest offseason question will finally be answered.

It was actually answered back during Big 12 Media Days by Mike Gundy, but Taylor Cornelius will make it official when he takes the first snap from behind center in the post-Mason Rudolph era. There were some challengers but due to some consequential timing, some lack of experience and (from all indications) some pretty solid play by the fifth-year senior, Gundy has chosen his man and would love nothing more than to ride him all the way through December.

But given the NCAA’s new redshirt rule, which allows said crimson garment to stay tucked in as long as a player limits his season to four outings, there are a slew of new questions to be answered by Gundy, Mike Yurcich and Co.

Those become all the more intriguing — and all the more impactful — when dealing with quarterbacks, and the trial run for this new rule just so happens to coincide with OSU’s attempt to replace its all-time leader in passing, wins and about 50 other records.

So, if Cornelius captains the Pokes to a 30-point lead over South Alabama by halftime, does Gundy trot Dru Brown or Spencer Sanders out to get some reps? Or do you save their limited snaps for later in the season when they might be more essential?

What happens if (knocks on desk) your QB1 is dinged up for a quarter during nonconference play? Does your fourth option Keondre Wudtee fill in?

“The real question is how we handle it at the quarterback position, and we won’t know a lot about that for a couple weeks probably,” said Gundy. “I mentioned to our offensive staff that we really need some information around the end of the third week of camp.

“We need to get a feel for who we think can play there behind Taylor and then we start to come up with a plan, whether it’s a freshman or a player that’s already used his eligibility and is not in that same category even though I guess he could be. That’s really a long answer for ‘not really.'”

It’s an answer that Gundy and his staff needed yesterday, and they’ve already deliberated on the subject multiple times. Publicly, Mike Gundy has give no indication as to how he will approach it, and we likely won’t have that answer if and until 3, 6 or 11 start warming up on the sideline.

Dru Brown, the transfer who left palm trees in a Pacific paradise for a chance to sling the rock in flyover country, is an especially interesting study. As a college grad, he basically has two years to play one, which would ideally (for OSU) mean a redshirt in 2018 so that he is eligible next fall, should Cornelius’ play and health allow.

In a report by Scott Wright for The Oklahoman, Brown’s former roommate at Hawaii, Kyle Gallup, stated that Brown would be open to the idea of redshirting and challenging Spencer Sanders for the reins next year, but his preference would be to usurp the Oil Baron this year.

That corresponds with what another former teammate of Brown’s Hunter Hughes told Pistols Firing earlier this year.

“He’s leaving to win the job,” said Hughes. “The only reason why he’s leaving his starting job over here in Hawaii, is to go and start at Oklahoma State. I don’t think he’d have any problem with me making that known because that’s just the man he is. He’s not into doing anything half-heartedly. His yes is yes, and his no is no.”

What about Spencer Sanders, Mason Rudolph’s heir apparent line-cutter at Murphy’s? With the possibility of that veteran staying on for another season, does OSU have to not only pacify Sanders with playing time in 2018 but also be deliberate in which situations it uses him?

This entire season will be a case study in the use of the new rule and Mike Gundy may have a grayer shade of mullet because of it when it’s all said and done. Ultimately, more eligibility is a good problem to have when you think you’ve got a couple dudes in the QB meeting room. But it also comes at the price of adding complexity to a QB decision process in which Gundy has historically taken his lumps.

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