'The bar’s always high': Why OSU's Mike Gundy thinks Spencer Sanders is ready to deliver at QB

Scott Wright

STILLWATER — Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy knows better than to expect perfection from his quarterbacks.

Mistakes are going to happen at that position in Gundy’s offense. Even the best Cowboy triggermen have made them.

But Gundy feels his current quarterback, Spencer Sanders, is moving toward eliminating the mistakes that are avoidable. 

“Spencer makes plays out here,” Gundy said. “But the defense makes plays against him, too, which is good. I feel like he’s in a good spot. Is he gonna make a mistake? Sure he is. Sometimes, will he fire one to the wrong team? Sure he will, just like Mason (Rudolph) did.”

Turning the ball over has been the most alarming inconsistency of Sanders’ previous two seasons as the starter. He has 30 touchdown passes and 19 interceptions in 21 career games.

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But with his noted development last spring — which Gundy said was more significant than the growth Sanders showed in the previous two years — it seems the level of expectation for the junior quarterback is higher now. 

“The bar’s always high for those guys,” Gundy said of his quarterbacks. “Spencer handles things great. The two years that he’s played here, he was in competition just to play. He’s always done his job, done what we asked him, never said a word. Competes. 

“I just feel like he’s in a good spot mentally, and I think he’ll play really well.”

When Sanders speaks, he sounds more settled in his role and more confident in his abilities, heavily crediting second-year quarterbacks coach Tim Rattay for the big steps forward.

“Operating the offense and decision-making,” Sanders said of his biggest improvements working with Rattay. “I’ve come a long way with Coach Rattay over this offseason. He’s helped me progress phenomenally and I can’t do nothing but thank him. We’re gonna see, and I’m excited for the season.

“It’s really just dialing in on what we do. Before I was here, we were an air raid, and it was crazy. The ball was here, the ball was there. It was great. Mason Rudolph was just slinging it. He was a great thrower. Taylor Cornelius was, too. It’s getting back into those habits. I think it was really probably more on me these past couple seasons, but I think we picked it up quite a bit and I think it’s gonna be a lot like what it used to be.”

Offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn sees room for change from a year ago as well.

“When you go back and look at it, I don’t know how much will carry over for us,” Dunn said. “What we did offensively wasn’t necessarily what we wanted to do. It really honed in for me exactly what I want to do offensively this season, who I want us to be. And I don’t think we have anything in our way to try and get that done.”

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OSU quarterback depth chart

Name, Class, Ht., Wt., Hometown (Previous school)


Spencer Sanders, RJr., 6-1, 210, Denton, Texas (Ryan HS)


Shane Illingworth, So., 6-6, 230, Norco, Calif. (Norco HS)

Ethan Bullock, RSr., 6-4, 215, Orlando, Fla., (San Francisco CC)

Peyton Thompson, RSo., 6-1, 206, Tulsa (Union HS)

Gunnar Gundy, Fr., 6-1, 200, Stillwater (Stillwater HS)