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Oklahoma Spring Game 2019: Jalen Hurts impresses in first look with Sooners

Preliminary takeaways from the 2019 Red-White Game, including a sparkling debut for OU’s new quarterback

NCAA Football: Oklahoma Spring Game Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

In the aftermath of the Red Team’s 35-14 win over the White Team in the Oklahoma Sooners’ 2019 spring game, head coach Lincoln Riley said he may name a starting quarterback earlier than expected.

That makes sense if Friday night’s scrimmage is any indication of how the competition is playing out in practice. Graduate transfer Jalen Hurts looked every bit the player he was in his two seasons as the starting QB for the Alabama Crimson Tide – and then some.

Unofficially, Hurts completed 11 of his 14 pass attempts for a touchdown and 174 yards. He completed an array of throws, doing so from the pocket and on the move. When he tucked the ball to run, he was decisive.

Redshirt freshman Tanner Mordecai had his moments, but the night belonged to Hurts. Based on what everyone witnessed at Owen Field on Friday night, he appears to have the job locked up.

A few other knee-jerk impressions from the brief intra-squad scrimmage.

OU’s offense is full of huge dudes.

The Sooners have a notoriously beefy offensive line. However, the size of OU’s offensive personnel as a whole really stood out watching the team in action tonight.

For his part, Hurts tower over his two predecessors, Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield. OU also added some more massive targets at tight end and H-back, including early enrollee Austin Stogner.

Stogner’s classmates at receiver looked the part, too. Jadon Haselwood’s physical presence, for instance, calls to mind Jalen Hurd split out wide. Theo Wease is equally imposing.

The ceiling for the receivers is sky high.

OU has assembled some absurdly talented groups of receivers in the past, but you won’t find one that can match the potential of this unit.

With returning stars CeeDee Lamb and Grant Calcaterra sitting out, the newcomers got a chance to shine. Wease, Stogner and Trejan Bridges combined for nine receptions, 185 receiving yards and two TD catches. Each made big plays down the field.

In another promising sign, Nick Basquine got back to his old reliable ways. The sixth-year senior consistently found holds in the coverage, snaring four passes for 50 yards.

Is this the best bunch of wideouts OU has ever had? We can’t make that call right now, but it’s hard not to get excited about what they showed Friday night.

The defense? It’s a start...

Given the competition, you don’t want to go overboard about how well the Sooners played on offense. Alex Grinch’s reclamation project clearly remains in the very early stages.

Notably, OU’s receivers were torching a set of overmatched defensive backs playing without some of the leading candidates to start, such as Delarrin Turner-Yell and Tre Norwood.

Meanwhile, the Sooners either didn’t feel comfortable running Grinch’s playbook or didn’t want to show their hand. The scheme was predictably vanilla, lacking the shifts and pre-snap movement that worked so well for Grinch at Washington State.

You could find the positives fairly easily, though. Defenders rallied to the ball in space better than they have in recent years. The pass rush also generated a decent amount of pressure organically.

What we learned about the defensive line

It could be all the new blood on OU’s offensive line, but the Sooners held up well on the defensive front. In particular, Neville Gallimore flashed fairly often on the interior. He just seems to fit a one-gap front so much better than the previous scheme.

Meanwhile, Ronnie Perkins appears settled at five-tech defensive end for the time being. The three-tech tackle position didn’t produce much, but we did find out that’s where La’Ron Stokes appears to be working. Is that where Kenneth Mann will play when healthy?

Other standouts on defense

“Standout” may be going a little far, but safety Jamal Morris definitely turned some heads on occasions. He seems to close on the ball well and finish tackles. If he keeps it up, he will work into the rotation this year.

On another note, Nik Bonitto may prove to be OU’s best option at RUSH linebacker if Jalen Redmond remains sidelined. At least on this night, Bonitto looked far more disruptive than Mark Jackson or Jon-Michael Terry. Needless to say, edge rusher will be an issue well into August practices.