STILLWATER — The Cowboys were without myriad players in their season-opening scare Saturday night, but none more notable than quarterback Spencer Sanders.
Sanders missed Oklahoma State’s 23-16 victory against Missouri State because of COVID protocol, pushing sophomore Shane Illingworth into action. After the game, OSU coach Mike Gundy said the team had been without Sanders since the middle of the week and that he should be back “in a couple days.”
The Cowboys practice Sundays and have Mondays off. Taking the “couple” literally would mean Sanders could be back Tuesday. That would give him three practices before OSU’s Friday walkthrough. If he contracted the virus and it wasn’t a matter of contact tracing, Sanders would have to pass some physical tests before returning to competition.
In Sanders’ place, Illingworth went 22-for-40, throwing for 315 yards and a touchdown. The yardage total was a career-high, surpassing the mark he set against Kansas last season.
At Big 12 media days in July, Gundy said Sanders improved more in the spring this year than he did in his first two years on campus. Sanders battled through a hand injury in 2019 and a lower-body injury in 2020. Throughout his career, Sanders has played in 20 games where he has completed 63% of his passes for 4,072 yards, 30 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.
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