Football

Schedule Challenges: Oklahoma’s offensive reload

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Lincoln Riley’s Oklahoma program consistently draws the top offensive talent in the nation to Norman. Baker Mayfield was succeeded by Kyler Murray, followed by Jalen Hurts. Dede Westbrook was succeeded Marquise Brown, followed by CeeDee Lamb.

With the Sooners’ run of Big 12 Championships and College Football Playoff appearances, that trend is likely to continue as long as Riley’s visor still has an interlocking OU on it. His offense hasn’t had to rebuild. It has reloaded year after year.

The Sooners will have to replace some of their best offensive talent in Hurts and Lamb in 2020, but the players that have been waiting in the wings have a high potential to become headliners and problems for the rest of the conference.

Tha Rattla – Spencer Rattler has 11 career pass attempts. On Bovada, he currently has +1200 odds to win the Heisman, good for fifth best behind Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Chuba Hubbard, and Kyle Trask. That says more about Riley’s offense than Rattler, but it still speaks volumes about the former five-star.

Riley has a “quarterback battle” yet again, but actions he took at the end of the 2019 season give a glimpse into where the battle stands. With the 2019 Peach Bowl out of hand, Riley placed Spencer Rattler into the game as opposed to Tanner Mordecai, even though Mordecai was listed ahead of Rattler on the depth chart.

Until fall practice begins, that is the last data point available regarding the quarterback battle. If Rattler wins the job as a redshirt freshman, he’ll likely conduct a passing offense more explosive through the air than the one led by Hurts.

If he wins the job, Rattler may put an end to Riley’s run of transfers into Norman.

Rambo – Every quarterback needs a No. 1 target, and now that Lamb has signed to play in Cowboys’ silver and blue, the next No. 1 target looks to be Charleston Rambo.

Rambo caught 43 passes for 743 yards and five scores last season, second on the team in all categories behind Lamb. With spring injuries to Jadon Haselwood and transfer Theo Howard clouding what those two might be able to do in the early part of the season, the main responsibilities will fall to Rambo.

That’s not to discount the ability of Haselwood, Howard, or Theo Wease, but Rambo’s veteran presence and ability should have him as the top target for the Sooner quarterback at the beginning of the year.

The Maulers – Center Creed Humphrey has become one of the top interior line prospects in the country, and has helped clear the way for the powerful rushing attack Riley pairs with his air raid offense. This year, as Humphrey starts to ascend NFL Draft boards, he’ll have massive humans on either side of him to help protect the pocket and clear the way for Sooner RBs.

Humphrey himself runs 6-foot-5, 307 pounds. Tyrese Robinson stands 6-foot-3, 334 pounds, and started all 14 games last year with 12 of them at right guard. Marquis Hayes is 6-foot-5, 344 pounds and played left guard in 13 of 14 games.

Those are three interior linemen who are experienced with Oklahoma’s lethal GT-counter running plays, and who gave Jalen Hurts plenty of time in the pocket last season even if it wasn’t utilized effectively.

The Sooner offense may have a cast of new characters in some major roles, but some of those new characters are talented even if they haven’t seen a lot of action in crimson and cream. Alex Grinch’s defense may be improved, but the real worry in Oklahoma is always going to be stopping the Sooners as opposed to scoring on them.