The 2020 season was a disappointing one for Oklahoma State. That team had a solid defense, but the offense wasn’t their yet. And going into last year, the same question remained. Can the Oklahoma State offense and Spencer Sanders put it all together?
After years of great quarterback play from Zac Robinson to Brandon Weeden and Mason Rudolph, it was odd seeing the quarterback position struggle over the last few years.
Starting quarterback Spencer Sanders had the same exact completion percentage from his freshman season (2019) to his sophomore season (2020) and 2021 was supposed to be the year Spencer Sanders put it all together. Last year at Big 12 Media Days Mike Gundy said that Spencer improved more in two months of spring football than he did in his entire time at Oklahoma State.
While it didn’t always look pretty at times, Spencer did make improvements in 2021. His completion percentage took a dip last season, but he had a far better touchdown to interception ratio. After the regular season ended, Spencer threw for 16 touchdowns on eight interceptions. It was by far his best year in Stillwater.
Of course, all people can remember is what happened in the Big 12 championship against Baylor. Even Spencer himself pointed to the very endzone the offense couldn’t get in to win the game and said, “You can’t have four turnovers in a game and expect your team to win.”
Despite the loss to Baylor in the Big 12 title game, Oklahoma State still had another big opportunity ahead against Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. Spencer took that game personally saying “I carried the chip on myself for motivation. We responded in the right way by beating Notre Dame.”
To his credit, Spencer responded in a huge way against Notre Dame. He finished the game with a whopping 496 total yards and walked away as a Fiesta Bowl champion and the MVP trophy.
As the 2022 season nears, it will be Spencer Sanders fourth season as a starting quarterback, and he is more comfortable than ever before. “I have been in this offense for four years and I am comfortable with the playbook.” Sanders said. Even head coach Mike Gundy mentioned Spencer’s comfortability in the offense and the tempo he is able to play with. Tempo is exactly what Spencer wants. “I like playing with tempo.” Spencer said. “The more you can keep a defense guessing the more you can have them on their heels. Playing with tempo has an advantage and I hope we play with tempo a lot this season.”
With several key players gone from the 2021 team, Oklahoma State needs leaders to step up. That includes Spencer Sanders who has been focusing on leadership this offseason saying “I try to focus on getting better every day. I have been focusing on leadership for the young guys. Whatever I have to do to help us win is what I am willing to do.”
For Spencer it means making his teammates comfortable. “The more comfortable they are as themselves they will be more comfortable on the field.” Whenever a player is in a program for five years, I guess he should be comfortable. But will he take another step forward this season? We are about to find out here in a few weeks.