One. Day. Left.
The Oklahoma Sooners open the 2019 season Sunday night against the Houston Cougars! For the final installment in our Countdown to Kickoff series, I want to highlight the Kyler Murray era and the ensuing transition with Jalen Hurts taking over as OU’s starting QB.
Being the guy to follow the guy is never easy, but you wouldn’t know that by watching Kyler Murray take over the college football world in 2018. After Baker Mayfield won the Heisman and was drafted first overall by the Cleveland Browns, K1’s time to drive the offense had come. From the very beginning, it was apparent that Lincoln Riley had himself another generational QB.
Accounting for 4,361 passing yards, 1,001 rushing yards and 54 total touchdowns, Murray was practically unstoppable. His record-setting campaign not only resulted in a Heisman Trophy like Mayfield before him, he too was selected with the No. 1 draft pick. Entering the 2019 season, the Sooners must answer the same questions they had one year ago. How will the offense look and perform under a new quarterback?
Baker Mayfield— ESPN (@espn) January 16, 2019
Not a bad run of QBs for Oklahoma pic.twitter.com/JTRuvH41UH
Jalen Hurts hopes the answers to those questions are similar and well, respectively. After graduating and transferring from Alabama, the senior QB won over his new Oklahoma teammates and ultimately the starting job. While he hasn’t shown the accuracy of Mayfield or Murray, he carries a level of maturity within himself that’s well beyond his years. That, along with his vast amount of experience on the biggest stages, could be the key ingredient for his success as a Sooner.
With the Crimson Tide, Hurts played in 42 games and went 26-2 as a starter. He amassed 5,626 passing yards, 1,976 rushing yards and 71 total touchdowns (48 by pass, 23 by run). Now that he’s in Norman, he’s learning from the top offensive mind in football today — Lincoln Riley.
Until the games are played, no one can be totally sure about how Oklahoma’s offense will look with Jalen Hurts running the show. Given what’s been seen on tape, in practices and during the spring game, he could elect to pull the ball down and scramble more often than his predecessor. As far as anybody on the outside knows, his strength isn’t as a drop-back pocket-passer, either. What I presume will happen under OU’s latest QB is a more methodical approach to moving the ball. An increased focus on establishing the run would benefit all involved, and allow Hurts to find his footing more comfortably to begin the season.
Being the guy to follow the guy isn’t for everyone, but at Oklahoma, those that are up for the challenge tend to find their way to the front of the line. Kyler Murray did, and now the torch has been passed to Jalen Hurts.
Now let’s cover any days we missed since our last countdown post:
2 Days! - CeeDee Lamb
If there’s a more complete receiver than CeeDee Lamb in college football right now, I haven’t seen him. In my (clearly biased) opinion, the junior is second-to-none when it comes to the entire package.
There was no doubt about it, Ceedee Lamb was the most reliable receiver when targeted in the Big 12 last season. pic.twitter.com/UGYIjkz2r0— PFF College (@PFF_College) June 19, 2019
At 6’2” and 191 pounds, he’s bigger than most defensive backs. He has excellent hands, insane vertical ability, and a knack for making highlight reels even when it doesn’t count. Take for example this ridiculous one-handed grab against UCLA last September.
For his career, the Richmond, Texas native has recorded 1,965 yards and 18 touchdowns on 111 receptions. With just two seasons under his belt, he’s already 10th in both total receiving yards and receiving touchdowns in program history. If he eclipses his production from his sophomore season, he could vault himself as one of the Sooners’ top three pass-catchers of all-time.
There’s no doubt who the go-to receiver should be for Jalen Hurts this fall. CeeDee Lamb has first-round grade written all over him. At this point, it’s just a matter of throwing it in his direction and letting him go to work.
3 Days! - Mykel Jones scores in the 2017 Big 12 Championship
Redshirt junior receiver Mykel Jones has 31 career catches and 453 yards, but only once has he found the end zone while wearing an Oklahoma uniform. In 2017, when the Sooners rematched Gary Patterson and the TCU Horned Frogs for the Big 12 Championship, Baker Mayfield connected with Jones for this outstanding 55-yard score to jump-start the second half. A rare opportunity presented itself, and MJ took full advantage.
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