Oklahoma’s Tylan Wallace, the Oklahoma receiver, did not play in the second half of Cheez-It Ball’s victory over Miami on Tuesday because the coaching staff wanted to protect his star receiver.
Wallace, a finalist for the 2018 Biletnikoff Award, caught six 45-yard passes in the first half in Orlando, Florida. He should be an NFL prospect by 2021.
Cowboys coach Mike Gundy and offensive coordinator Casey Dunn both stated that Wallace’s limited playing time was scheduled in advance to protect him from injuries and give some of the team’s young receivers significant playing time.
He clearly has a future that very, very few people have the chance to have, so me and Coach Dunn have been very careful with him, Gundy said. And then we made the decision to let the other players come and play, so we didn’t hold our breath in that situation.
Dunn said he talked to the other offensive players about the plan for the game.
I told the guys at the hotel for the game that I wanted to use younger players in the second half, Dunn said. I really want to protect. [Wallace]… So it’s 100% up to me to decide who plays and when.
Wallace has been Oklahoma State’s top receiver in each of the last three seasons. He’s caught 59 passes for 922 yards and six touchdowns this season. In 2019, he caught 53 passes for 903 yards and eight touchdowns in just eight games before his season was interrupted by an ACL knee injury. He was considering playing in the NFL Draft 2020, but eventually decided to come back for his last season.
Prior to the start of Cheez-It Bowl, Wallace told reporters that he felt it was important to play in this bowling game to end his season and career.
I think bowling is the right thing for me, Wallace said Sunday. I feel like I have invested a lot in the program and it means a lot to me and I know it means a lot to the boys. I wanted to move forward and get the right closure to finish the bowling game with them and have a last, albeit last, last moment and everything.
Gundy said there was no specific time on Tuesday when the coaches were planning to take Wallace out of the game, but at one point they agreed to do so. The injury to Miami quarterback Eric King in the second quarter may have affected the timing, Gundy said.
You still have a chance [of getting hurt], Mr. Gundy. I’m not sure what happened to the Miami quarterback, but that didn’t affect it.
Quarterback Spencer Sanders said after Tuesday’s victory he wouldn’t appreciate Wallace because he didn’t play in the second half.
It’s great what he did, I mean he did a lot for us, said Sanders, the MVP of the game for the Cowboys (8-3). I’d like to hear that someone’s trying to ruin it or give up because they have to take care of me. This is unacceptable. I don’t think that’s right. If someone wants to quit, they don’t know football. I said to him: I wish you good luck. He did what he had to do.
Wallace stated that the decision to bowl was a personal decision that he respected, regardless of the decisions of his teammates or others.
Men make their own decisions. I think they are. It’s his life. Wallace said Sunday they want to live. So if they want out, that’s fine with me. The situation is different for everyone. So I guess I can see it both ways.
I certainly praise the guys when they stop, when they want to do their thing, they have their reasons, and also guys who finish the season, I think I at least praise them.