Oklahoma State needs bounce-back effort from QB Sanders

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma State's starting quarterback and redshirt freshman Spencer Sanders has experienced ups and downs during his last three outings.

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The Cowboys face No. 18 Baylor (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) at home on Saturday following its bye week. Oklahoma State (4-2, 1-2) will need a strong showing from Sanders to bounce back from a 45-35 loss at Texas Tech on Oct. 5.

Sanders threw three interceptions and lost two fumbles, resulting in seven interceptions and three touchdowns in the last three games. He combined for seven TDs and one interception in his first three games.

Cowboys coach Mike Gundy, a former OSU quarterback from 1986-89, is confident the coaching staff's work with Sanders during the bye week will have a positive impact.

"The first area for him is to take care of the football," Gundy said. "He threw a bad interception, and then he got hit on one interception and had another one tipped (against Tech). So we want to eliminate those, but the issue is fumbling the ball in the pocket.

"As in most years, particularly this year, we can't lose the turnover battle and expect to be successful."

Sanders threw for 290 yards and two touchdowns against Texas Tech, while also rushing for 46 yards. So he had plenty of good moments, too. He was under enormous defensive pressure, getting sacked seven times. He'd been taken down a combined six times in his first five outings.

Sanders ranks sixth in the nation in rushing yards by a quarterback, with 426 (along with two touchdowns), with two different 100-yard games. His 222.2 passing yards per game is fifth in the FBS among freshmen QBs.

Sanders appeared frustrated in the last few games, sitting for several moments with his hands on his head and a towel draped over it following his third interception against Texas Tech. He's also critical of his play after games.

But Gundy is not worried about Sanders, noting current Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Mason Rudolph and last year's starter Taylor Cornelius were upset with sub-par performances.

"He shows his emotions differently than other people," Gundy said. "We're all different in the way we handle things. Mason was hard on himself, Taylor was hard on himself. His appearance and the term we use, body language, at times would give that more so. But that aspect he'll work on and change and adjust throughout his career."

Overall, Gundy felt the bye week was beneficial for Sanders and his team.

"It was good for us," he said. "Guys were fatigued, we've been at it nine weeks, coaches and players. They needed a little bit of a break, so we got some quality work done last week."

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