Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley will not publicly name a starting quarterback for Saturday’s game against the TCU.
“Don’t plan on naming a starting quarterback here this week,” Riley said at his press conference on Tuesday. “We’ll see how the week goes and see where we are when we get to Saturday. … We will see you on Saturday at 6.30 pm »
The speculative guess is easy. Freshman Caleb Williams, who led the comeback against Texas last week in the Red River showdown, will likely take over from Heisman Trophy preseason favorite Spencer Rattler, in one of the most amazing scenarios of the 2021 season.
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Is it really that amazing, though? We have seen this before.
On January 8, 2018, Alabama coach Nick Saban replaced Jalen Hurts with rookie Tua Tagovailoa in the CFP Championship game. The Crimson Tide won 26-23 on Tagovailoa’s now legendary TD pass with second and 26.
The following season, Dabo Swinney replaced Kelly Bryant, who had led the Tigers to the CFP the previous season, with rookie Trevor Lawrence after four games. Bryant transferred to Missouri during the season and Lawrence led a national championship run.
Riley can learn from both of these situations to keep the Sooners on the same old CFP path with the goal of winning the program’s first national championship since 2000. The short-term prospect is that Riley has to make a decision ahead of Saturday’s game at the Hours. prime against horned frogs, where the focus will be on that immediate choice.
Williams should be that choice. The Sooners offense unleashed its big-game potential with Williams to rally from a 28-7 deficit against Texas. Running back Kennedy Brooks and wide receiver Marvin Mims had their best games of the season.
Remember, once Saban put Tagovailoa on, that was it. Tagovailoa won the starting position the following season, but Hurts played an offensive role throughout the year.
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So what about Rattler? Riley said the second-year quarterback was given time off Monday before returning to practice.
“Given the circumstances, he’s doing well,” Riley said. “It’s not easy for a young man. This guy is painted publicly differently than he really is.”
Rattler was considered the favorite for the Heisman Trophy and the potential No.1 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. He also won NIL contracts and, like Hurts, did not lose as a quarterback. leaving the season in which he was substituted. It’s just that Oklahoma had several one-scoring games against FBS competition, and Williams was the right spark at the right time.
Riley reiterated that Rattler won the competition at fall camp, but the dynamic has changed.
So, will Rattler immediately transfer like Bryant did? Riley answered this question as well, knowing that the transfer portal is more active than it was in 2018.
“There are never any guarantees, but I would expect to have these two guys all season,” Riley said. “These two guys are pretty attached to this football team.”
Rattler’s father echoed those thoughts to the OUDaily on Wednesday, saying the family will make a decision on their future after the Oklahoma season.
The best of times? Rattler retains a role, even if he is the substitute, for the remainder of the season. After all, he returned to the game and managed the two-point conversion against Texas last week.
Look back on those situations in Alabama and Clemson to see the value of a backup quarterback. Hurts replaced an injured Tagovailoa and led a 35-28 return win over Georgia in the 2018 SEC Championship game. Lawrence was knocked out of a concussion in Game 1 after Bryant’s transfer, and Chase Brice has played the hero in a 27-23 comeback against Syracuse on September 29, 2018. These were key moments of this season, which ended with Clemson defeating Alabama in the CFP Championship game.
Oklahoma is yet to reach the championship game despite four playoff appearances. They’ve also had the right quarterback every time, with a pair of Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks to Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray as well as Hurts, who transferred from Alabama after the 2018 season.
This is another best case scenario for Riley. That the quarterback situation be resolved after the season. Remember, the Sooners have won 14 straight games.
“The sky isn’t quite falling,” Riley said. “We keep this in perspective.”
RIley can handle this situation, even with the transfer portal and NIL, in this CFP race. Penn State lost starting quarterback Sean Clifford last week, and the fall to QB was catastrophic in a 23-20 loss to Iowa. Oklahoma still has half a season in the Big 12, where the Sooners are aiming for a seventh consecutive conference championship.
“Usually this is the time for us to pounce and play some of our best balls,” said Riley. “That is absolutely our intention at this time.”
To do this, Riley has to start Willliams and see where he’s going. He could emerge as a Heisman Trophy contender and make a difference for a program eager to show him off to future SEC peers on the CFP scene. But Rattler needs to stay engaged and involved, whether it’s in certain packages for each game or in a save role, for this to work.
It’s the win-win Riley has to hope for. Perhaps this plan leads the Sooners to an elusive national championship.
“For me, I feel like I have two really good players,” said Riley. “I don’t see this as a problem or a problem. You have to choose between two great options, and it’s a good position. I know these two kids will react no matter what position they find themselves in.”