Taylor Cornelius isn’t the problem for this middling Oklahoma State squad
MANHATTAN, KANSAS — Disappointed playersleft the field last Saturday in Stillwaterwith heads hanging and shoulders slumping. Except for one. Taylor Cornelius stood on the Boone Pickens Stadium turf, facing his teammates and looking them in the eye. He high-fived hands. He slapped shoulder pads. He had every reason to hang his head and slump his shoulders, too— running for your life all day while still throwing for four touchdowns and nearly finding a way to overcome a supremely woeful performance by your offensive line and your defense really takes it out of you— butinstead, he was an encourager. He was a leader. And this is the guy that some Oklahoma State fans want to blame forwhat ails the Cowboys this season? Give me a break. In what has quickly become a disappointing season, orange bloods are searching for answers. It’s perfectly natural. But Cornelius isn’t the problem. In fact, the quarterback is among the least of OSU’s issues. And yet, you don’t have to look far or listen long to find plenty of fans who believe Cornelius is the root of all ills. Twitter. YouTube. Radio shows. All are filled with laments about the former walk-on turned starter. Just a few days ago, someone on a live online chat asked my fellow columnist Berry Tramel if Cowboy coach Mike Gundy realized how “silly” he looks when he talks about not wanting to play Spencer Sanders, a true freshman, after the Cowboys have been beat in two of three games by true freshmen quarterback. I’ll tell you what’s silly— thinking that Sanders is the answer because your team got beat by other true freshmen. For starters, Texas Tech and Iowa State have better offensive lines than OSU.
That gave Alan Bowman and Brock Purdy a much better chance for success.
Do Cowboy fans really want to see Sanders, a guy who tore his knee not once but twice in high school, running for his life like Cornelius has been?
Do they realize that Sanders is four inches shorter and37 pounds lighter than Cornelius?
Do they understand the physical and mentalbeating that could be incurred?
Some fans want to compare this season to 2014, Cornelius playing the part of Daxx Garman and Sanders that of Mason Rudolph. Comparing Cornelius to Garman is kooky talk. Cornelius is so much better than Garman that it’s almost laughable. But just to prove it, here are some numbers:
•Garman: 226.8 yards passing per game and 54.9 percent completion rate.
•Cornelius: 304.2 yards and 60.7 percent.
•Garman: 12 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in nine games.
•Cornelius: 16 touchdowns and six interceptions in six games.
Now, Sanders might well be the next Rudolph, and like Rudolph in 2014, we might well see Sanders before this season ends. But remember that Rudolph was an early enrollee; Sanders was not. Remember, too, that Rudolph was only 32 of 60 for 554 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions in his first two games. He wasn’t a world-beater right away.
Good chance Sanders wouldn’t be either.
Even if he was, I’m still not sure why so many have gotten so hung up on Cornelius. The offensive line? Sure. The defensive secondary? Yes. The need to find more ways to get the ball into Justice Hill’s hands? Sign me up for that.
But quarterback play? Nope.
“He’s gotten better every game,” Gundy said of Cornelius earlier this week.
Has he been flawless? Of course not.
But no quarterback is. Mason Rudolph wasn’t. Kyler Murray isn’t. Drew Brees. Baker Mayfield. All of them make mistakes.
Taylor Cornelius does,
But far be it from me to understand why so many Cowboy fans have him on so short a leash. This is a guy who bought in to being a Cowboy so deeply that he not only paid his own way for several years as a walk-on but also stayed around for four years before getting his shot. He put his head down and went to work. He pulled himself up by his bootstraps.
He was loyal and true. As I watched Cornelius encouraging teammates after the game last week, then listened to him a little while later taking blame for pretty much everything — after he said Tylan Wallace’s spot-on, deep-ball drop was quarterback error, I fully expected Cornelius to say he botched that punt snap and failed to block those blitzes, too— I couldn’t help think this should be a guy Cowboy fans rally behind.
He is not perfect, but he is not a problem either. Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 405-475-4125 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/ jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/ jennicarlson.
Oklahoma State quarterback Taylor Cornelius has completed 60.9 percent of his passes this season with 16 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Oklahoma State quarterback Taylor Cornelius tries to escape pressure from Iowa State’s Greg Eisworth (12) and Lawrence White (11) during the Cyclones’ 48-42 win in Stillwater on Oct. 6.