There were three impactful coaching decisions in Oklahoma State’s 41-14 loss to Oklahoma in Bedlam on Saturday night.
The two-man plan at quarterback
OSU coach Mike Gundy was forced to go to his second option at quarterback when starter Spencer Sanders was injured on a sack midway through the first quarter. Prior to exiting, Sanders had led two drives, one that ended in negative yardage and the other ending in an interception.
Backup quarterback Shane Illingworth entered the game midway through the Cowboys’ third drive of the game and provided a spark to the entire OSU offense, throwing a 15-yard touchdown pass. Gundy kept Sanders on the sideline, even though as OSU radio sideline reporter Robert Allen reported, Sanders was not being kept out because of his injury.
As the spark that Illingworth provided vanished and the Cowboys found themselves down 34-14 in the fourth quarter, Gundy put Sanders back into the game. Sanders looked better in his late-game appearance but couldn’t lead his team to any more points.
Punting from the OU 39-yard line with 12:03 remaining in the game
The Cowboys were down 21 points with just over 12 minutes remaining in the game. OSU was at the OU 39-yard line facing a fourth-and-eighth and elected to punt. ESPN announcers Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit seemed surprised the Cowboys didn’t attempt a fourth-down conversion to close the margin. The Tom Hutton punt was perfectly executed and downed at the one-yard line, however, the OSU defense response was not as well executed. OU running back Rhamondre Stevenson immediately gashed the Cowboys for a 30-yard run, setting the tone for what would be a 99-yard touchdown drive that took 5:17 off the clock and essentially ended the game.
Trusting backup kicker Brady Pohl
Oklahoma State starting kicker Alex Hale was injured in pregame warmups, so freshman Brady Pohl was thrust into the Cowboy’s biggest game of the year. Pohl’s first kick of the game was a low extra point conversion. The OSU coaching staff trusted Pohl enough to allow him to kick 38 37-yard field goal. Pohl rewarded the coaching staff by converting both field goals and also his only extra-point attempt.