Is Spencer Rattler Being Set Up To Fail

Spencer Rattler is yet another high profile QB to come play for Lincoln Riley. He hasn’t taken a single meaningful snap in college and hasn’t played meaningful football since his suspension in high school. Despite the lack of experience, everyone and their mother is hype about Rattler in year 1. Is all that hype setting Rattler up to fall short of our expectations?

Spencer Rattler Hype

Spencer Rattler has been polarizing since his time on QB1. The Netflix documentary shined a lot on the top QB in the 2018 class as he navigated his senior season. As the suspected starter for 2020, he follows in the footsteps of two Heisman winners and a finalist over the last three seasons. This is a blessing and a curse, sure Rattler is walking into a great program but he is expected to perform at an insane level right out the gate.

Before the season even starter, Rattler is a Heisman candidate, top 10 on 247Sports, top 10 Big 12 players, and is expected to play like a 1st round draft pick all in year 1. With all of the hype, is Rattler being set up to fall short of our expectations. Even if he is an above average QB, it would be a massive let down.


Spencer Ratter only attempted 11 passes last season. It resulted in 81 yards and one touchdown. Four of those passes and the touchdown came against South Dakota. I won’t hold it against him for a lack of production going into 2020 because we have seen freshman explode onto the scene before. However, Rattler has to do it without the help of an elite player.

Think about the weapons Baker, Murray, and Hurts had. Baker had two first-round picks at receiver and a third-rounder at TE. Murray had Hollywood and Hurts had Cee Dee. In 2020 Rattler’s go to guy will likely be Rambo. Charleston Rambo is a very solid receiver but he lacks the elite level of play compared to a Hollywood Brown or CeeDee Lamb. In addition, the loss of Haselwood to injury, and indefinite suspension of Trejan Bridges, makes things tougher. So Rattler needs to try to meet expectations of those before him, without the weapons they had. While that should be tough on its own, he also needs to try and fit in the system.

Fitting The System

When looking at the three quarterbacks Lincoln Riley has had, they all do something at an elite level. Baker was an elite passer, Kyler and Hurts were elite runners. Depsite having one thing they excelled in, the three of them also ran quite a bit in Riley’s system.

Here are the rushing stats for the three quarterbacks in their final season:

Rush YardsRush TD’s
Murray140 100112

Mayfield is the clear outlier here. He didn’t have the rushing ability of the other two, but he didn’t have to. Baker was an elite passer with the ability to make plays and escape pressure with his feet. He wasn’t fast, but he had some quickness and shake to his game.

This also shows that Riley likes to run the ball with his QB when he can. Kyler Murray has similar rushing stats to Tony Rice at Notre Dame back in 1988 and Hurts lines up with Keenan Reynolds from Navy in 2015. That is where this could be a problem for Spencer Rattler.

Rattler has the potential to become an elite passer. But it likely won’t happen this early in his career. Also, in year one, he doesn’t have anywhere near the rushing ability of the other two and his smaller frame could be a concern for injury as well. He only had over 20 carries once in his four-year high school career. Until guys like Theo Wease Jr. come into their own and breakthrough, OU could see a dip in production.

Rattler In 2020

With the bar set so high in year one, it’s almost a guarantee Rattler falls short of expectations. Instead of a Heisman QB, expect an underwhelming rusher and an impressive passer who happens to throw a few too many interceptions. With that said, he has the talent to become an elite passer and he is at QBU, so we are likely to see a true Heisman hopeful down the road.

3 thoughts on “Is Spencer Rattler Being Set Up To Fail

  1. Rattler will be fine. The only thing that may hurt is the time lost from no spring ball. Talented kid, elite QB coaching and scores of highly touted players around him. That’s not to say there won’t be any growing pains at all, but can’t see “fail” as a likely outcome.

    1. Well said. I think he will “fail” to live up to these ridiculous expectations of a Heisman QB in year 1, but will be successful at OU and eventually be a legit Heisman contender by 2021/22.

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