By Michael Doutey
The Oklahoma State Cowboys open the season with a road victory 52-36 over Oregon State. The Cowboys were dominant on offense while the defense looked much like it has in the past. But the Pokes get their win and look like they have found their quarterback of the future in Spencer Sanders.
Here are tonight’s (or this mornings) five observations from OSU’s season-opening win.
Spencer Sanders: QB1
About an hour-and-a-half, before kickoff, we got word that redshirt freshman Spencer Sanders was going to get the start for OSU. I had been preparing for whoever took the field to be the main guy and the one who had finally surged ahead. I was expecting Dru Brown. But Sanders showed Friday night just how special he could be. He was accurate with his throws. That was the first thing that caught my eye. He was pretty poised too. There were a couple of negative plays and penalties that could have derailed drives and he just kept pushing through and making plays. He threw for 203 yards, three touchdowns on an efficient 19-24. He also showed off his speed and athleticism by adding 109 yards rushing. It was as good of a debut as you could have asked for, possibly better. It was a very clean game and it was really impressive. He didn’t have many questionable misses and never flirted with turnovers. This was a bigtime performance from Sanders as he looks to have firmly taken the reigns as OSU’s quarterback. His ability to improvise is a game-changer. His ability to break down defenses and take off and run is huge. Sanders flashed what fans have been craving for since he committed to play here way back when.
Oklahoma State freshman QB Spencer Sanders will start vs. Oregon State, sources told @Stadium. Sanders, who beat out senior Dru Brown, will be 1st OSU freshman QB to start season opener since Wes Lunt in 2012
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) August 31, 2019
Hubbard for Heisman?
As good as Sanders was, Chuba Hubbard was even better. Before the season I predicted on my podcast (Mike’d Up, you should check it out) that Hubbard was going to have a monster season and declare for the NFL Draft. Hubbard did nothing to make me think anything different. I might be more confident in my prediction after tonight’s performance. He rushed for a career-high 221 yards on 26 carries and had three touchdowns. He showed off his vision, power, speed, and elusiveness tonight. He was the best player on the field tonight. You also have to shoutout the offensive line as well. They played very well as expected against a poor defense. Anyways, this should be an eyeopening performance from Hubbard. People nationally should all be getting themselves acquainted with Hubbard and OSU fan should savor what time they have left with their stud running back.
OSU’s Dynamic Trio
Tylan Wallace showed up tonight reminding everyone why he should have won the Belitnikoff Award in 2018. He finished tonight with five catches for 92 yards and two touchdowns. He did this in some new ways. Last season we saw him as a deep threat, much like James Washington. Tonight was different. He was getting into open space and running away from people. It was very impressive and displayed a new level of playmaking to his repertoire. But what might have emerged tonight was a dynamic trio of playmakers that OSU hasn’t seen in a while. The trio of Sanders, Hubbard, and Wallace is going to wreak havoc on Big 12 defenses all season long. Their speed, athleticism and playmaking ability is backbreaking and there might not be another trio like them in the entire country. I am excited to see what else new Offensive Coordinator has planned for them as the season goes along.
Defense was Flat
The defense wasn’t up to snuff tonight. They were disappointing in the opener. They gave up 36 points, allowed nine catches for 170 yards and two touchdowns to Isaiah Hodgins, and Oregon State converted 13 of their 20 third-down-attempts. It wasn’t very encouraging. The defense only had one sack and three tackles for loss, which is a major step back from last season. I thought the defensive front was weak to start but they got better as the game went along. The secondary was shaky, which was supposed to be the anchor of the defense. Jarrick Bernard and Kolby Harvell-Peel were beaten deep with double moves. The group just wasn’t locked in or very tight in coverage. It was disappointing. I am not going doom and gloom. But this defense has a long ways to go to make us forget about tonight’s performance.
There were some bright spots from the defense. The Pokes took the second quarter 24-6 after the defense forced a red-zone field goal and three straight three-and-outs. There were some positive individual performances as well. Redshirt freshman Tyler Lacy had a nice tackle, deflected a pass to force a punt and a quarterback hurry. Amen Ogbongbemiga lead the team in tackles with 10, had the teams lone sack and was credited with 1.5 tackles for loss. Tre Sterling had nine tackles in his first start at safety and had 1.5 tackles for loss. Malcolm Rodriguez was excellent in his debut at linebacker. He had nine tackles and a quarterback hurry. He was a stud on defense and was all over the place. True freshman Trace Ford stood out in his limited snaps. He had two tipped passed at the line of scrimmage and had a quarterback hurry. He is a guy who I am going to lobby for more playing time.
The Pokes will arrive in Stillwater around 8 a.m. Saturday morning and rest before getting ready for their week two opponent McNease next Saturday. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. and can be streamed on ESPN+.