Kyler Murray won’t have time to match all of Baker Mayfield’s accomplishments as the quarterback of the Oklahoma Sooners. Even so, and I don’t say this lightly, Murray has equaled his predecessor this season in terms of impact on the field.
Murray put on a show again Saturday versus the Kansas State Wildcats, completing 19 of 24 pass attempts for 352 yards and three touchdowns. The performance boosted his already freakish passer rating of 227.34 on the season. He added 46 yards and a TD on the ground. The Wildcats never had a chance in what turned into a 51-14 OU blowout thanks in large measure to No. 1’s brilliance.
Mayfield enjoyed a well-documented rise from walk-on to all-time great. Murray arrived at Texas A&M in 2015 as a five-star stud with all the raw materials to succeed. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t overlook how surprising it has been to watch Murray’s rapid ascendance to superstar this year.
Murray scuffled through a disappointing freshman year at A&M in which he looked more like a wildcat QB than a full-time starter. He transferred and ended up sitting on the bench for the two years after the Big 12 granted Mayfield an extra year of eligibility. In the meantime, he established himself as a first-round pick in the Major League Baseball draft. A lucrative career with the Oakland A’s awaits him at the end of the season. Once Murray finally got his turn as the starter at OU, his running mate Rodney Anderson suffered a season-ending injury in week two.
With all that in mind, it wouldn’t have been surprising if Murray failed to live up to billing this year. And could you blame him if he did?
Instead, OU’s QB is playing at a level in which outings like what he put together versus K-State have become routine.
Other takeaways from a win that was easier than expected.
*I’ve talked in past weeks about how well OU’s offensive line is starting to play. The upward trajectory continued versus the Wildcats. This line is stomping fools out.
It’s not just one or two guys elevating the group, either. The entire unit is in sync.
*Stunned me to see Trey Sermon out there to start the game. I figured we were talking about him missing weeks after last week’s leg injury.
*On the flip side, even though Marquise Brown played, I worry that ankle injury will nag him the rest of way. That would severely hamper a downfield threat whose game is predicated on his speed. Brown produced two catches for 22 yards versus KSU.
*He did it in garbage time, but T.J. Pledger ran really hard. Thought he might end up with his first touchdown of the year. It’s coming.
*CeeDee Lamb is a monster. You don’t need me to tell you that, do you?
*For the rewatch:
What happened when OU settled for field goals? (Yes, we’re at that point with this offense.)
Is Nick Basquine healthy enough to get back in on the action?
*I honestly thought OU would have a tougher time handling KSU’s running game. Alex Barnes’ line on the day: 13 carries, 28 yards. Tough to complain there.
*KSU generated 122 of its 245 yards of total offense in the fourth quarter after OU pulled its starters. Again, not too shabby.
Of course, when the Sooners take on a plodding team like the Wildcats, their defensive success often has a lot to do with their early offensive output. K-State playing from two and three scores down spells trouble.
*The Sooners’ struggles in third-and-long scenarios remain baffling. This game, it was KSU QB Skylar Thompson running for 18 yards on third-and-19 to set up a conversion on fourth down. Yeesh.
*Bookie Radley-Hiles put a licking on KSU tight end Blaise Gammon that showcased the kind of physicality the Sooners have been missing in their secondary for years.
Given that it knocked him out of the game, I hope he never does it again. All the same, it was refreshing.
*A few glimpses of Jalen Redmond on the edge offered enough of a look to realize how much OU missed his presence early in the year. Even if he can just play spot duty the rest of the way this year, consider it a boost to the D.
*Interim coordinator Ruffin McNeill and the defense have benefited from facing arguably the Big 12’s two worst offenses in the games since he took over.
Much like a week ago, the D showed signs of progress in shutting down the Wildcats. However, KSU’s offense pales in comparison to what the Sooners will see in the coming weeks from West Virginia, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.
Lots of work left to do on that side of the ball.
*For the rewatch:
Were there any standouts on the defensive line?
What broke down on Thompson’s long run on third down?
Did the SAM linebackers have any attention-getting moments?