Oklahoma State’s quarterbacks were put in a bad position tonight.
Starting quarterback Spencer Sanders struggled to get a rhythm early in the game, but before he was able to find it, a hard hit took him out of the game with a head injury. After that, previously seen backup Shane Illingworth came in.
“Well you gotta do what you gotta do,” coach Mike Gundy said. “You play the hand you’ve been dealt, it’s not the most perfect situation.
Illingworth led a touchdown drive on his first possession, but things definitely slowed down after that.
On his first drive, Illingworth went 2 for 5 for 24 yards and a touchdown.
To end the game, he finished 5 for 21 with 71 yards and one touchdown.
“He was up and down a little bit, he made some throws and missed some throws, but I thought he ran the offense efficiently enough for us to do some things,” offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn said.
For a freshman coming into a hostile environment, already facing a big deficit and having a banged-up o-line, Illingworth’s teammates are proud of the way he competed tonight no matter what the stat line says.
“He comes in and he does what he’s supposed to,” receiver Tylan Wallace said. “You can’t expect too much from a young guy like that, but I’m proud of the way he holds himself when he’s in the game.”
In the fourth quarter, Sanders returned to the game and led a nice drive that ultimately ended up getting stopped at the goal line. It was unclear if Sanders would be able to return after his head injury, but the medical staff felt he could go back in.
“He started feeling better,” Gundy said. “He got dinged in the head, and the medical staff makes those decisions when those guys can come back and are ready. In the second half, they said that they think he’s okay to go back in if we want him to.”
Ultimately for the Cowboys, it was a difficult job for both quarterbacks with the condition of the offensive line, especially one that’s facing as good of a defensive line as OU’s.
Both guys faced pressure all night and that was part of the problem.
“We didn’t protect as good as we needed to protect, so it’s difficult back there right now for us playing quarterback,” Gundy said.