STILLWATER — Brandon Weeden has the looks of a prototypical quarterback: Rocket arm on a 6-foot-4, 219-pound frame.
"He's got the best arm I've been around," Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen said.
Says cornerback Andrew McGee: "You look at the throws Brandon Weeden makes, from one hash 40 yards to the other side of the field... it's crazy stuff. I don't think teams will be ready for that."
But Weeden's arm doesn't make him a slam dunk success in Holgorsen's spread offense.
"If you take a list of characteristics of a quarterback, arm strength is like eight," Holgorsen said.
"Top of the list is stuff you can't teach."
"They're either smart or they're not," he said. "They're able to soak up the information or they're not. They're athletic or they're not. They either win a bunch of games or they don't... there is a bunch of things you can't fix."
Fortunately for OSU, Holgorsen ranks Weeden high in the other requirements. He's smart, he's athletic, he's a gamer — as the comeback win over Colorado showed — and his understanding of Holgorsen's system is getting better every day.
And Weeden has been working to improve his footwork, which Holgorsen believes is the most underrated attribute for a quarterback to have.
"Having escape ability is about your feet," Holgorsen said. "That's something that's overlooked at times. You look for a big guy who can throw it and is accurate with the ball but if he's a big lumbering guy back there it's not going to do you any good if the pocket's collapsing."
When Holgorsen saw Weeden in action, the first thing he corrected was the former Edmond Santa Fe star's footwork and stance.
"Just little things like that, that I didn't think about until he got here," Weeden said. "I'm not there yet but I can tell the difference."
The Cowboys quarterbacks work on their footwork daily in various drills designed to simulate the unnerving nature of the pocket.
"The pocket is a uncomfortable situation, you can't be content back there," Holgorsen said. "Having good feet, being able to get out of bad situations, quick release those things are more important than being able to throw the ball 70 yards downfield. It helps but I'd much rather have a guy be able to get out of bad situations and understand what we are trying to do."
Nonetheless, there will be times when Weeden's arm strength proves to be a blessing even though it's not a high priority to be successful in OSU's offense.
"I'm fortunate, I can squeeze some throws in that maybe other guys can't," Weeden said. "I try to use it to my advantage but I don't want to rely on it."