Clemson was incredible last season and ran what most called the greatest team ever off the field in the title game. But people didn’t think much of the turmoil that surrounded the team early in the season. Until Kelly Bryant was brought back up because of the championship ring, he was seemingly forgotten. Oklahoma could find themselves in a similar situation in 2019 with Jalen Hurts and Spencer Rattler.
The QB Battle of Jalen Hurts and Spencer Rattler
Going into the season everyone considers Jalen Hurts the starter and rightfully so. He has the pedigree and the athleticism that every coach would want. But how well does he fit the Riley system? Enter Spencer Rattler.
Spencer Rattler is the Freshman QB who was ranked as the 11th best player in the country according to 247 Sports. Rattler is the known successor when his time comes at Oklahoma, but it could be sooner. Just like Clemson last season, a highly talented Freshman can come in to take over for the older starter. This isn’t a knock on Hurts, he is an incredibly talented player. But he also doesn’t exactly fit the mold of Lincoln Riley quarterbacks.
Lets look at Hurts compared to Murray and Mayfield to get an idea how they stack up.
|TDs / Ints|
|Hurts(2016)||62.8||2,780||23 / 9|
|Mayfield(2017)||70.5||4,627||43 / 6|
|Murray(2018)||69.0||4,361||42 / 7|
I pulled from the 2016 season for Hurts because it was his best and only full season he played. When looking at the passing numbers you can see the clear outlier. The stats are a bit misleading so I’ll dive into them a bit more.
- It was his Freshman year – while he was young and has of course grown as a player, he has a smaller sample size that inflates his numbers in the next two years. Last season he had a 72% completion percentage but only had 70 pass attempts.
- Alabama runs a different offense – another thing to consider when comparing Hurts. But he was replaced so Alabama could throw the ball more with Tua. Hurts couldn’t adjust to keep his spot from the talented Tua.
This is where Hurts stacks up best. It isn’t a secret that he his a running quarterback. Early in his career he was more of a running back at the QB position. He has made strides as a passer, but he still isn’t in the same category with the other two. That is my hold up with just giving the job to Hurts, he is an incredible talent but isn’t the passer Riley typically has.
It is also tough to compare a guy to the last two Heisman winners. However that is what Oklahoma needs with a defense that should improve under Grinch, but that can only go so far. Riley is one of the greatest offensive coaches in the country and will get the very best from his QB. If Hurts can’t make the reads and throws in an air raid system, it may have to go in another direction.
Rattler was a five star and the top QB in the class. With that comes a lot of expectations and responsibility, espcially when you match him with an offensive mastermind. But Spencer Rattler is answering the call early in camp.
“He’s done a nice job. He is a very gifted thrower. He’s done a nice job,” Riley said. “He’s more than anybody just kind of in a race against time, having not been here in spring. You can certainly tell that the other two were here for spring. And there’s no doubt, and certainly could early, but he’s gaining on — not necessarily gaining on Jalen or gaining on Tanner — but just gaining on getting to the point where he can execute and communicate everything that we want him to.Via Tulsa World
“He’s a quick study. And one thing I have appreciated about the kid, even though he wasn’t here for spring, he’s not afraid of the moment. He thinks he should be right in the middle of it, which you know, you better believe that. And he certainly has that self-confidence.’
This is where Rattler could be the bigger asset and take over after some early offensive struggles. In the first six weeks Oklahoma has to play Houston, UCLA, Texas Tech and Texas. three of the four put up 30+ points per game in 2018. Oklahoma won most of their games last season in Big 12 shootouts. Something Hurts has proven he isn’t really built for.
Being Elite is Scoring Points
During Hurts first starting season at Alabama, the Crimson Tide averaged 33 points per game. A good number no doubt. But Tua averaged 45 points per game last season for Alabama. Three of the four playoff teams from last season averaged at least 44 PPG.
In the modern landscape of college football, you need to put up 40+ to be in that elite category. Oklahoma is built for an air it out type offense. They have one of the best receivers in the entire country in Ceedee Lamb and an incredible talent in Theo Wease. As great of a running ability that Hurts has, at some point he will need to air it out. Oklahoma opens with Houston who just hired Dana Holgorsen and averaged 42 PPG last season. The defense will be improved but Oklahoma still needs to put up points.
Hurts deserves every right to prove the job is his. He has been impressive during his Alabama career. Just don’t stash Spencer Rattler until next season because he could be the next Trevor Lawrence.
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Started Saturday Tailgate in 2018. Covering all things college football and talking Notre Dame on Twitter.