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Three Takeaways from OSU’s Homecoming Loss to Baylor

Pun intended.

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Recurring turnovers are like holes in a warship. You can slap a new coat of paint on her hull, wave a pretty new throwback brand flag from her mast and equip it with the most potent weapons, but if you don’t stop the leaking, she’ll never make it out of the bay.

That’s enough for me and maritime analogies, but the point is that OSU’s ship has been sunk by turnovers in consecutive games, almost exclusively, and that can’t continue.

I wrote the above headline with a grimace because it was three actual takeaways that told the story of OSU’s homecoming loss to Baylor and, what’s worst, they have become an unnerving trend that can be mostly attributed to one person.

Some based on this pressing issue that deserves some attention, I’m going to focus on my three takeaways on OSU’s Spencer Sanders’ turnover issue.

1. He Has to Figure it Out

That statement is pretty obvious, but that doesn’t make it any less daunting for OSU or its coaching staff. There’s no nice way to put it. Spencer Sanders was responsible for all eight of OSU’s turnovers in the last two losses and is guilty of 14 of the Cowboys’ Big 12-worst 16 giveaways on the year.

So, yeah. That can’t continue. I don’t think that necessarily means you make a change at QB — which doesn’t appear to be Mike Gundy’s intention anyway — but it is important to address the issue(s) the right way.

I think it’s important to realize that not all TOs are created equal, and they have to be addressed (nor not addressed) differently. Young quarterbacks are going to throw interceptions and make mistakes. If we didn’t know that, we do now. But there have certainly been some snafus that appear to be completely avoidable.

Sanders’ under-thrown interception at the end of the second quarter, for instance, was less about decision making and more about a poor throw. On the other hand, the lack of awareness to not palm the ball behind your back like Dr. J. while at the edge of your own red zone is inexcusable.

2. It’s More Than Just a Learning Curve

It’s a full-blown case of fumblitis. Spencer Sanders has dropped two footballs that were recovered by the defense each in consecutive games. That’s the worst stretch by any OSU quarterback as far back as the data was readily available to me (1994-current).

In fact, during that span, no Cowboy QB has lost more than five in a season. Tony Lindsay (1998), Zac Robinson (2009) and Mason Rudolph (2016) all hit five over the course of an entire season. Sanders has five through seven games, and it’s trending in the wrong direction.

(By the way, remember when we somewhat sarcastically made fun of Mason Rudolph’s glove size after a ball or two slipped out of his mitts? 😬)

So I don’t know if you just grind it into him or say nothing and let him work through it himself (he knows he fumbled, I’m pretty sure). Confidence is key, especially for someone in Sanders’ position. I’m sure the coaching staff knows what’s best to do there. Maybe, you duct tape a football to his hand until Friday night. But somehow, we need to live in a world where Sanders has two hands on the ball when he’s not throwing.

So, those real bad ones are inexcusable, but completely avoidable.

3. The Good News

As if I’d leave you all on a bad note after the weekend you’ve had. Here’s why things could get better, and quickly.

Eliminating those turnovers, especially the fumbles, does not guarantee that OSU beats Tech or Baylor, but if given a chance to run it back minus those drops, and the ensuing impact on Sanders’ and the Cowboys’ psyche, and I like the prospects of a 6-1 OSU team.

The defense been solid-to-good at times. The offensive line hasn’t lived up to its Week 1 Kool-Aid grade, but it’s been passable compared to several units that have enjoyed 10-win seasons in Stillwater in recent history, and we know the type of playmakers OSU has. OSU just needs to plug a couple of holes, big as they may be.

That doesn’t help OSU not be 1-3 in conference play for the second-straight year, and it won’t provide any moral victory for the players, but it does provide a pretty simple path to navigate that ship out of the harbor.

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