OSU football: Spencer Sanders or Dru Brown? Cowboys may not be much closer to knowing
STILLWATER — Spencer Sanders stood on the Boone Pickens Stadium turf signing autographs Saturday afternoon.
Never more than a couple yards away, Dru Brown was doing the same.
Even as Oklahoma State fans surrounded the Cowboy quarterbacks and had them sign shirts and posters, pose for pictures and selfies, Sanders and Brown were never far from the other. They were always in close proximity.
Much like this quarterback battle.
If OSU’s spring scrimmage is any indication, this competition is going the distance — and for the sake of the team, that's probably not a bad thing.
“You’ve got two guys that don’t have any experience at all, so their reps have been equal,” Cowboy coach Mike Gundy said after Saturday’s open practice. “There’s been days that Spencer’s played better, there’s days that Dru’s played better.
“So, we’ll let the thing run through the summer and into August.”
Frankly, even if a quarterback had emerged, naming a starter now would be risky.
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Normally, I’m in favor of pulling the trigger if one quarterback is clearly better. If the guys in the locker room can tell who's better, then it’s generally a good idea for the coach to acknowledge that. Otherwise, things can get weird.
But in the case of this OSU team, even if a choice was obvious, Gundy and Co. might need to hold off on announcing a starter.
The Cowboys are woefully thin at quarterback. Even though they have four guys on the roster, Brandon Costello is a true freshman who has only been on campus a few months and Shaun Taylor is a walk-on. Those are the options beyond Sanders and Brown, and since Sanders has twice torn his knee and Brown is well south of 6-feet tall, OSU doesn't want to go into the fall without a good back-up.
Should Gundy announce Sanders or Brown as the starting quarterback before classes start in the fall and options for transferring players shrink dramatically, the chance of the other guy leaving is high.
Brown is heading into his final year of eligibility, and if he transfers, he'd have to go to a lower-division school to play right away. Still, those around him have always said he’s a competitor of the highest order. He simply wants to play.
Sanders might not be as likely to transfer if he isn't the starter. If he transfers to another Division-I school, he’d have to sit out the fall anyway.
Listen, there’s no indication either quarterback is considering leaving if they don’t get the nod. But since both are still under OSU’s no-interview policy for first-year players, we really don’t know what they’re thinking.
What we do know, however, is free agency in college football is most rampant with quarterbacks.
Gundy and new offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson have to manage this correctly. They get some help in the fact that this competition sure looks like a dead heat.
Sanders and Brown both had good moments Saturday. Sanders threw a pretty over-the-shoulder pass to C.J. Moore during the 7-on-7 drills. Brown zipped a pass to Landon Wolf after rolling out of the pocket.
But there were also bugaboos. Throwing into coverage. Standing in the pocket too long. Trying to freelance instead of throwing the ball away.
“They still have a little bit of, ‘I’m gonna make something out of nothing all the time,’” Gundy said. “They’ve gotta get out of that system. They’ve gotta play within our system.”
Heck, Sanders and Brown have been close enough in their development and performance that Gundy didn’t completely dismiss the idea of playing both in the fall.
“We could,” Gundy said. “If somebody wins the job, then we’ll certainly say, ‘You’re the quarterback.’ If both of them earn the right to play, then we’ll certainly play both.”
There’ve probably been times when Gundy has said similar words in order to keep quarterbacks engaged, to stoke the competitive fires, but in this case, it feels like Sanders and Brown are close enough to actually consider such things.
Will Gundy really play both?
Doesn't seem likely.
But it also doesn't seem likely the choice will be obvious any time soon.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 405-475-4125 or email@example.com. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.