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Quarterback to Back: How Arizona State’s True Freshman Stacks Up against OSU’s QB Committee

OSU heads to the desert without a defined QB pecking order.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

The Cowboys are headed to the desert without a clear-cut starter at quarterback where they’ll face a freshman who just got handed the keys to a program.

While Garret Rangel got the start in Oklahoma State’s Week 1 win over Central Arkansas, the Cowboys divvied up series equally between he, Alan Bowman and Gunnar Gundy. And there’s no indication that the gameplan is any different leading into Saturday night’s matchup with Arizona State.

On the other sideline, the Sun Devils seem to be all-in on a true freshman who, conversely, came from behind to win the QB competition outright in fall camp.

Let’s take a look at the QB matchup by the numbers and then dig into Rashada’s debut.

QBR19.3 (117th) (Bowman)27.8 (112th)
Rushing TDs00

(Note: Bowman was the only OSU passer to appear in ESPN’s QBR rating.)

So, some of the numbers are going to be wonky because it’s a) just one game and b) I’ve combined OSU’s three-headed QB monster. But until coaches decide on a pecking order, this is all we have to go on. And it’s just a baseline for stats moving forward.

The more important thing to underline is the two offenses’ outputs and look at what OSU is facing in the true frosh.

OSU’s committee approach led to comparable numbers as Arizona State’s riding Rashada. The Cowboys put up 27 points in a win over an FCS team. The Sun Devils put up 24 in a win over an FCS team. Pretty much a wash from a macro look.

How to Win a Starting Job

Despite being an exciting four-star prospect, Rashada was tabbed as QB3 before climbing to the top of the depth chart. He leapfrogged fourth-year Sun Devil Trenton Bourget, who threw for nearly 1,500 yards and 11 TDs in 2022, as well as Notre Dame transfer Drew Pyne (2,021 yards and 22 TDs for the Irish last year).

Rashada stepped onto the field and orchestrated a five-play scoring drive to start and showed off his accuracy, his arm and his ability to make plays on the run. He had the Sun Devils up 21-7 in the first half before an extended weather delay seemed to stymie the offense and Southern Utah pulled back within 24-21.

OSU Continuing with QB Committee

Mike Gundy on Monday didn’t change his tune when it came to deploying all three quarterbacks in the Cowboys’ Power Five opener.

He reiterated that they all three “played good” and even indicated that this committee approach might not be a such bad thing.

“If that was one person you’d say it’s a pretty good day,” said Gundy. “It just looks a little odd being three people, but they all three played pretty well… We’re going to practice all three of them. Distribute reps based on what we think it should be, the way they played.”

Gundy even when as far as to buck the old adage of if you’ve got two (or three) quarterbacks, you don’t have one.

“I should’ve checked this, but (the three QB strategy) might’ve been as effective and as efficient mentally as we’ve ever had with the combination of one, in a game that maybe wasn’t a blowout.”

Although I understand what Gundy means, for long-term (and season-long) success, the Cowboys need to be closing in on a defined pecking order. I’ll be interested to see who takes the first snap and how Saturday’s possessions are split up.

Traditionally, you’d rather be all-in on a young passer when it comes to long-term success. But to judge OSU’s quarterback decision against ASU’s would be a flawed analogy. There’s a lot more at stake for OSU.

Mike Gundy is a 19-year veteran coming off one of his program’s most disappointing seasons in recent memory. Kenny Dillingham is a first-year head coach debuting in the twilight of the Pac-12. He’s selling the future, and an exciting young freshman will put butts in seats.

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