STILLWATER – Another week, another tune-up game for the Oklahoma State football team.
No offense to South Alabama, which comes to Boone Pickens Stadium at 7 p.m. Saturday to try and unseat the Cowboys (1-0). But the schedule couldn’t have set up better for Mike Gundy and Co.
Taylor Cornelius looked like a fifth-year senior who had never started a game against Missouri State. His throws weren’t sharp, and though he made some plays with his feet and threw five touchdown passes, if the same Cornelius shows up against South Alabama (0-1), it’s going to cause concern for some OSU fans.
“Everyone’s going to have to be patient with him,” Gundy said following the victory against Missouri State. “I knew that he would have some jitters and fire the ball out there at times and miss some throws. I was fairly certain that would happen. That’s why I said everyone’s just going to have to be patient with him and let him work through some things.”
It’s not easy replacing the most successful quarterback in school history, but that’s the hand Cornelius was dealt. Offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich echoed Gundy’s comments, saying he expected more from Cornelius after game one.
“He made some clutch plays, he showed his mobility, but I think Taylor could have played without a little more hesitation,” Yurcich said.
Missouri State and South Alabama aren’t Tier-1 team OSU could schedule, but it’s a fantastic situation that the two teams were the ones the Cowboys opened against this season while trying to transition to a new quarterback.
OSU ran away early against Missouri State and will likely have success similar to the 44-7 thrashing it delivered against the Jaguars last season in Mobile. For Cornelius, it’s a chance to prove to Gundy, himself and the fans he is capable of leading the offense to another successful season.
Cornelius said his preparation hasn’t change, and even he admitted places he could have performed better after the opener.
Saturday will be a big test. Boise State comes to Stillwater on Sept. 15 looking to pull an upset of a power 5 opponent. But this week, it’s another chance to get acclimated to being the starter. Whether it’s going through pregame more sharply or learning from his shortcomings last week, Cornelius has a lot to show to his coaches after they touted him throughout the preseason.
He will likely be better this week, but if not, it could cause some trouble.
The game should slow down for Cornelius against the Jaguars. They will be tougher defensively and provide a better gauge of how good the Cowboy offense is, but all eyes will be on No. 14 during his second start.
“(My first start) wasn’t perfect by any means,” Cornelius said. “It’s something to improve on.”