It’s Landry Jones.
Obviously, their playing styles differ dramatically. The ‘Stache could sling it with the best of them, while he was infamously graceless on the move. Hurts can run the ball extraordinarily well. He throws it adequately.
But OU’s latest Heisman Trophy candidate and the quarterback of the Dallas Renegades share a knack for ghastly unforced errors that apparently can’t be coached out of them. You’re usually getting something between good and great on most plays, but they just can’t help themselves on the five-ish percent of snaps in which they inexplicably shoot themselves in the foot.
Hurts’ horrendous ball security reared its head on Saturday night against the TCU Horned Frogs when he allowed defensive back Nook Bradford to pick him clean from behind after OU’s QB had rumbled down to the TCU seven yard line. OU needed points desperately on the drive to extend a lead that had been cut to four after TCU’s Vernon Scott returned an interception off a Hurts throw 98 yards for a touchdown on the previous possession. (To be fair, target CeeDee Lamb slipped on his route, enabling Scott to pick off the pass.)
The uneven performance against TCU came a week after Hurts committed three costly turnovers versus the Baylor Bears. Two weeks ago, he gave the ball away to the Iowa State Cyclones deep in OU territory in the fourth quarter, which resulted in a TD that positioned ISU to go for a potential game-winning two-point conversion. In the Red River Shootout, Hurts turned the ball over twice inside the Texas Longhorns’ red zone to nullify scoring opportunities.
Just as Jones had a big hand in so many wins in his four years as OU’s starting QB, Hurts is playing a pivotal role in getting the Sooners to the verge of a fifth straight conference title. Yet, Hurts has accounted for 11 turnovers through 11 games, and he has put the team in tight spots too often down the stretch. Those mistakes have yet to cost OU a win – in large part because Hurts himself has made up for them when called upon. But they will if the gaffes continue in the next two games.
Other observations from OU’s 28-24 win over the Horned Frogs:
*The officiating at end of that game was bizarre. TCU has every reason to be steamed about the controversial spot that is getting the most attention, but it also looked as though Hurts actually made the first down line on his run on the previous play:
Before that, half of OU’s team was on the field celebrating Brendan Radley-Hiles’ fourth quarter interception:
Patrick Fields, you can expect a call from the Big 12 office.
*Senior linebacker Caleb Kelly got his first action of the season, and he came through. While Kelly only contributed one tackle from his spot at WILL, the Sooners defended TCU’s speed option far better when he was in the game.
Assuming he is redshirting this season, Kelly stands to contribute needed depth at inside linebacker down the stretch and put himself in position to be a leader on defense in 2020.
*OU’s defensive line continues to be a problem for opponents. Notably, defensive tackle Jalen Redmond bounced back with a disruptive performance following a few quiet weeks.
*Four Sooners caught passes versus TCU. That doesn’t seem like a good thing a week after so many receivers played a part in a big comeback win over Baylor.
*With CeeDee Lamb back in action, Lincoln Riley deployed a similar offensive scheme to the one OU used in the Texas game. Receivers came in jet or orbit motion on nearly every play.
While Riley showed a few other wrinkles in the first half of the game, he appeared to abandon them in the second half. The diamond formation with two running backs in the up positions and receiver Charleston Rambo as the deep back was especially intriguing.
*The Sooners battered the TCU defense with what was essentially an iso run play using Kennedy Brooks and Rhamondre Stevenson as lead blockers. However, the middle of the TCU defense still acquitted themselves well.
*Articles about cutting-edge schemes for defending spread offenses make for interesting reading, but it seems like the best defenses in the Big 12 just tackle really well. TCU and Baylor are two great examples.
Likewise, the ability of OU’s ball carriers to break tackles and glance off hits probably plays a bigger role in the team’s ground success than their speed and wiggle.