“The numbers don’t lie” is a favorite phrase for many sports fans, but as is the case with anything related to statistics, context matters. Bad stats from a player do not indicate a badly played game no more than good stats from a player indicate a well played game.
It is simply unfair to put athletes into a box or a mold that says they must produce in a specific way to be considered good at what they do. Because I hold this mindset, I have constantly been a defender of Spencer Sanders as Oklahoma State’s starting quarterback. His bad games have overshadowed his good ones for no other reason than many fans like to complain, and his proneness to injury hasn’t exactly helped his case.
At the end of the day, I get it: fans want results, and Sanders has failed to bring consistent results in his years running the offense, but I believe he may have turned a corner in Saturday’s 31-20 win over Kansas State.
In last week’s win against Boise State, Spencer Sanders was barely even given the opportunity to throw the ball. He attempted just 13 passes, and only 6 of them were for completions, but of the 7 incompletions, more than half of those were dropped by receivers. So after that game, the matchup with Kansas State was going to be a major indicator of just how much the coaching staff trusts Sanders to throw the ball, and when given the opportunity, he showed that he can be successful on some level.
Regardless of how you feel about Saturday’s game against the Wildcats, it cannot be stated enough just how tough of a team Kansas State is. Year in and year out, no matter what the expectations are for Wildcat football, they are consistently overlooked. Still, they show up to do battle every single game. Simply put, it doesn’t matter what the year is, no Big 12 team can look at the conference schedule and count the Kansas State game as a win. They’re always a tough play.
Kansas State is the perfect team to slow a quarterback’s progress, or even derail him altogether. Sanders wasted no time on Saturday, though, and he came out slinging the ball as well as he ever has. Completing 22-of-34 (64.7%) passes for 344 yards and 2 touchdowns with 0 interceptions was a better throwing day than his first two games combined (21-of-39 for 255 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception). He also added 9 rushes for 18 yards and a touchdown. As a result, he was selected as Oklahoma State’s Offensive Player of the Week.
Sanders wasn’t perfect, though. He missed a few throws, namely a pass to Blaine Green that likely would’ve been a touchdown. Still, if he can produce like he did on Saturday, I’m sure even the biggest Sanders naysayers will change their tone.
“I just thought he was consistent,” said head coach Mike Gundy. “He competes like always, he played hard, made good decisions. He was healthy and he feels good.”
Looking ahead, Oklahoma State doesn’t exactly get a break in the schedule. On Saturday, they host no. 21 Baylor, who is fresh off a 31-29 win against Iowa State, and then the Cowboys get a week off before they travel to Austin to take on Texas and then Ames to play Iowa State. If Spencer Sanders wants to prove himself and show that he truly has turned his game up a notch, the month of October is the time to do it.
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