Jenni: Why Mike Gundy needs to name a starting quarterback now

Jenni: Why Mike Gundy needs to name a starting quarterback now

Let’s pause the finger pointing for a moment, Oklahoma State fans. Here’s a solution for Cowboy football. It won’t fix everything, but it’s a start.

Jenni Carlson

By Jenni Carlson

| Sep 18, 2023, 10:00am CDT

Jenni Carlson

By Jenni Carlson

Sep 18, 2023, 10:00am CDT

STILLWATER — Consternation is suddenly a state of being for Cowboys everywhere.

What the heck is wrong with OSU football?

It’s a legit question after what we saw Saturday evening. A Power Five program being beaten at home by a Group of Five team is one thing. It happens. But being dominated by South Alabama is something else entirely.

Something bad.

But let’s pause the finger pointing for a moment, halt the critiques and the criticisms.

I’m here with a solution.

Now, I’m not naive enough to believe any one thing will fix all that ails the Cowboys; I was at Boone Pickens Stadium, so I saw the trainwreck with my own eyes. But you have to begin to pick up the pieces one piece at a time, and here’s where I believe the Cowboys should begin.

Name a starting quarterback.

I completely understand why Mike Gundy, Kasey Dunn, Tim Rattay and anyone else involved with this quarterback decision haven’t named a starter to this point. What we have seen publicly of Alan Bowman, Gunnar Gundy and Garret Rangel has been similar. None of the three have played terribly, but none of the three have been spectacular either.

Look at their stats through three games:

Bowman: 57.7 completion percentage, 235 yards, no touchdowns, one interception.

Gundy: 61.8 completion percentage, 202 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions.

Rangel: 58.6 completion percentage, 172 yards, two touchdowns, one interception.

And by the accounts of Gundy and Dunn — reporters haven’t been allowed interviews with any of the quarterbacks this fall — how the quarterbacks have handled the huddle, managed the game and been in practice has been similar, too.

“I just kind of look at it as myself as a dad of a player,” Gundy said a couple of weeks ago. “How would I justify that to somebody’s mom or dad that your son came here and he never actually got a chance to get on the field and play, even though in practice he deserved it?”

But here’s the thing: all three have gotten that opportunity. 

Each quarterback has played meaningful, important minutes the first three games of the season. They have had chances to distinguish themselves, for better or for worse. Gundy and his coaches now have reams of data and detail on their quarterbacks.

Now, it’s time to make a decision.

Maybe they pick Bowman because he’s a veteran who’s seen more game action. Or Gundy because he’s more mobile, a huge benefit with an offensive line that again is suspect. Or Rangel because he best combines throwing and running.

I don’t know what quarterback should be picked, but I know one should be.

Why? 

The offense has been totally disjointed these first three games. Even in wins against Central Arkansas and Arizona State, OSU struggled offensively, and there’s too much talent at the skill positions for that to be the case. When you’ve got guys like Ollie Gordon and Brennen Presley, De’Zhaun Stribling and Jaden Nixon, you shouldn’t be averaging 20.3 points a game.

“I just want to score,” Dunn said Saturday when I asked him what was at the top of his list of frustrations. “I want to get out there and move the ball like we did in the beginning of the season last year. I miss those, just running up and down the field and playing fast and getting after it. That is what’s eating me.

“We’ve got to start scoring, and it starts with me.”

Dunn said he needed to tighten the offensive package to make sure players were confident in their assignments and responsibilities. I’m sure that would help, but so would naming a starting quarterback. 

Having a guy — the guy — would allow Dunn, Gundy and Rattay to focus their communication on that quarterback. It would also give the starter a chance to take all the first-team reps in practice. Give him a shot of confidence, too, knowing that he’s the leader of the offense.

Sure, naming a starter would leave two quarterbacks disappointed. That’s a bummer. Anyone with a heart understands that. But coaches do things all the time for the betterment of the team.

This choice would be for the greater good of the Cowboys.

Playing three quarterbacks doesn’t give them the best chance to win. Those of us on the outside see it, so you know the players see it. Sticking with this three-quarterback system sends a terrible message to the other hundred guys in the locker room — the coaches aren’t doing everything in their power to put them in the best position to win

That’s a good way to do more than lose games.

It’s a good way to lose the locker room, too.

The decision may not be easy, but after the South Alabama game, the choice sure is: OSU must name a starting quarterback.

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Jenni Carlson is a columnist with the Sellout Crowd network. Follow her on Twitter at @JenniCarlson_OK. Email [email protected].

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