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Gundy 'pleased' with Sanders' debut performance

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Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders hands the ball off to running back Chuba Hubbard during the Oklahoma State vs. Oregon State football game on Friday, August 30, 2019, at Reser Stadium in Corvallis, Oregon.

Spencer Sanders pleased his coach in his collegiate debut.

Sanders, a redshirt freshman quarterback on the Oklahoma State football team, took the field as OSU's starter last weekend after beating out Hawaii grad transfer Dru Brown in an offseason-long quarterback competition.

Sanders wasn't named OSU's starter until hours before the Cowboys' kicked off their season-opener against Oregon State, which they won 52-36.

“In the end, we felt like (Sanders) might be able to help us in the first game with his ability to run,” said OSU coach Mike Gundy. “He played well and handled the offense well. I didn’t think that he got flustered at any time, which is important for a quarterback at any level at any school. I thought he had enough energy to bring a lot to our team, but not so much that he got out of control. I think that’s important to play the position."

Sanders comfortably ran the Cowboy offense Friday night, throwing for 19 completions on 24 attempts, 203 yards and three touchdowns. He also tacked on 109 rushing yards on 13 carries, adding a dynamic to the offense OSU hasn't had recently with quarterbacks who weren't quite as mobile as Sanders.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Gundy said. “It’s just hard to tell with young people, how they’re going to react. So I wasn’t really surprised because he’s played in high school at such a high level, in really, really competitive games. That obviously helped him some, in my opinion."

Sanders earned the opportunity to start the game for the Cowboys, but Gundy admitted that his initial plan was to give both Sanders and Brown some meaningful playing time in the season-opener, but Sanders simply played too well to take out of the game.

Ignited by the play of Sanders, running back Chuba Hubbard and All-American receiver Tylan Wallace, OSU's offense put points on the board in all five of its first-half drives, four of those drives ending in touchdowns. The Cowboys' punt unit didn't see the field until 3:24 remaining in the third quarter.

Sanders and Hubbard highlighted an exciting new rushing attack the Cowboys showcased behind their new-and-improved offensive line.

Sanders tallied the most rushing yards by an OSU quarterback since 2013, and despite taking some hard hits in his first game, Gundy said he's not looking to limit his young quarterback.

“He’s got to play,” Gundy said. “There were three occasions where he initiated contact that he didn’t need, in my opinion, but he’s played that way throughout his career to a certain extent. We just got to let him play.

“It’s just one game. We’ll see how he develops as the season goes on, but we were pleased with what we were able to get out of him last Friday night.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com