This makes the third year in a row that Oklahoma has a cloud of hype surrounding their starting quarterback. All 3 of them have been transfers, all 3 of them found their way to Norman.
In the previous cases, Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield won Heisman Trophies en route to being the first pick in the NFL draft. One might almost think Hurts is a lock to do the same. After all, he had significant Heisman hype as a freshman and sophomore and makes his way to OU with a pair of National Championship rings on his hand. At face value, Jalen Hurts looks like more of a home run transfer landing for OU than his predecessors.
In the words of the great Lee Corso: Not so fast my friend!
The playmaking ability of Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray is elite, their highlight reel plays came when the offense started falling apart and they somehow pulled a rabbit out of their hat. Murray’s legs are something that we might not see from an accurate QB in the college ranks again, with speed comparable to his receiving corps. Mayfield’s ability to find space was uncanny, it almost seemed as if rolling out in Mahomes-like fashion made Baker more dangerous than standing in the pocket. These two quarterbacks played a pretty similar game that involved flying by the seat of your pants and making something happen after the coverage had broken down and their receivers were able to get away from DBs. To the credit of the DBs, you can only cover for so long. Extending the play makes for a wild ride offensively.
Hurts brings a much different outlook to the Sooner offense. Most of his highlight-reel plays were on designed runs (see SEC championship game 2018) or him executing the gameplan. At Alabama, Hurts has been the beneficiary of some solid Offensive lineman and some receivers that knew how to create separation and get open (See Calvin Ridley, OJ Howard, Jerry Jeudy). However, the best plays that Hurts made were the ones that he didn’t make. Something that Hurts has always had going for him was his safety. In the run for the national championship in 2017, Hurts threw 1 interception all season. He put the ball in the air 255 times and only 1 of those resulted in the ball being caught by the other team. Safe to say, Jalen knows how to keep the ball in his offense’s possession.
While throwing the ball to the other team doesn’t seem like much of a threat, Hurts does run the ball more than Mayfield and Murray. If I could squat as much as Jalen Hurts, I would try and run people over too. However, the name of the game at the quarterback position is throwing the ball. If Hurts tries to punish defenders like he did his freshman and sophomore years, he will only be punishing himself. There’s a reason NFL GMs are reluctant to offer long term deals to Running Backs, it’s because the human body can only take so much abuse before it slows down. Taking a beating makes it much more of a challenge to stand confidently in the pocket and make the passes that Lincoln Riley’s offense will require.
Jalen Hurts needs to take a page out of Kyler Murray’s book. Kyler Murray was able to put up video game numbers at Oklahoma because he knew how to avoid contact and how to use that huge offensive line he had. Hurts gets to inherit much of the line and would be wise to stay behind it. Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray didn’t have much of a chance to look over the towering bodies upfront as they both stood 6 feet tall or shorter, but Hurts is a solid 6’2”. Not having to leave the pocket to see the field while also having the innate sense of making safe passes makes for a pretty solid offensive machine. While it might be a little more boring to watch Oklahoma’s offense, Jalen Hurts could make it more safe and productive.
Ultimately, everyone wants to see if Hurts will keep the OU Transfer-Heisman-1st pick streak alive, and the answer is no. While it is very exciting to see Hurts in a better offense, it can be argued that Tua was able to do more with the same offense last year than Hurts did in his first two years. Tua threw for almost 4000 yards last year and Hurts only mustered 2000 yards passing his last year as the starter.
Although with one more season comes more experience and maturity, so we could see Jalen Hurts take the next step as a passer. Oklahoma will look a lot different with their new QB under center but with the playmakers OU has, he doesn’t need to be Baker Mayfield or Kyler Murray for the offense to be successful. All he has to be is Jalen Hurts.
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