In his first career road start for the Oklahoma Sooners, Kyler Murray put on what was undoubtedly his best performance to date. The first-round MLB First-Year Player Draft pick completed 21 of 29 passes, threw for 348 yards, three touchdowns, and added 77 yards on 15 carries to boot. In total, he was responsible for 425 of OU’s 519 yards. As impressive as that is, he not only stuffed the stat sheet — he was incredibly timely.
It was a raucous environment in Ames, Iowa (or as raucous as one can expect at 11 a.m.), a place where Oklahoma hasn’t tasted defeat since 1960. That’s the long history of it. Coming into today’s contest, the last time we saw these two squads on the same field, the Cyclones bucked the trend and stifled the Sooners’ high-powered offense. This time around, the Fighting Matt Campbells had no answer for Lincoln Riley’s offense, in large part because of Kyler Murray’s stellar play.
Sharing the ball with an abundance of players has become a bit of a staple for Sooner quarterbacks in Riley’s offense, and this game was no different. Even with the occasional pass rusher in his face or at his back, Kyler Murray managed to progress through his reads and distribute the rock to eight different receivers, including this first-time connection to senior fullback Carson Meier.
On the day, Oklahoma was 6-11 on third down, with Murray completing five of nine passes on the money down to move the chains. If you’re converting over 50% of your third downs, your offense is going to have a ton of success, regardless of whether there’s a player of Murray’s caliber behind center or not.
The future Oakland Athletics outfielder also showed off his adept sliding skills on numerous occasions. Though Oklahoma’s offensive line gave Murray time on multiple drop-backs, whenever Iowa State’s secondary tightened up their coverage, he often made them pay with his legs. The Cyclones game plan was to keep him in the pocket and make him move the ball with his arm, but when neither part of his game is contained, he’s nearly impossible to defend.
Folks knew how talented Murray was the moment he elected to transfer to Oklahoma. His legendary high school run is thoroughly documented, and his athletic ability otherworldly. In Oklahoma’s first two games, his elite talent was on full display, but there was an element of playing the QB position that he had yet to show because the opportunity simply hadn’t presented itself until Saturday. Like Baker Mayfield before him, Murray looked the part of a field general. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a bigger gamer than No. 6, but on Saturday, No. 1 proved that he too plays with a highly competitive, gamer’s mentality, and he also has that ability to galvanize his team.
And speaking of the Magic Man, through three games, Kyler Murray’s 2018 season is statistically on par with Mayfield’s 2017 Heisman Trophy winning campaign.
If you’re keeping track, that’s a good sign. You know what else Murray has going for him? He won’t have to overcome a loss to the Cyclones to get that invite to New York.
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