When Baker Mayfield arrived in Norman, it was clear Oklahoma had something special at quarterback. Three seasons, two College Football Playoff appearances and a Heisman trophy later Oklahoma’s coaches know that they were definitely spoiled with Baker at the helm. Now they’ve got to deal with something they haven’t had to in a while: a battle at the quarterback position.
Austin Kendall and Kyler Murray play extremely different styles, but both bring a lot to the table. Kyler Murray might be the fastest player on the team, and that’s saying something when Marquise “Hollywood” Brown is playing wideout. Murray showed flashes on a huge dash against Baylor on the first play of the game. He also threw a beautiful 87-yard touchdown bomb against Tulane. However, neither of them have had much on-field experience as Murray really only played in garbage time last season.
Neither looked great in the spring game, though they were dealing with 30+ mph wind gusts all afternoon. Both threw a touchdown pass, but Kendall showed off his arm a little more, throwing for 134 yards to Murray’s 85. Murray plays a style of QB that seems to work well in the college game, especially if he has dynamic play-makers and a sturdy offensive line, two things Oklahoma definitely has. Austin Kendall is more of the pro-style quarterback who seems much more comfortable in the pocket. With his solid 6-foot-2 frame he stands and delivers the ball down field to the streaking receivers.
Kendall may have the edge with the deep ball. Riley’s offense focuses on baiting the defense with strong runs and intermediate passes, before the QB launches one deep to CeeDee Lamb or Marquise Brown. Look for that setup to be very similar this year, as both wide-outs are back, as well as Rodney Anderson. This quarterback battle has serious implications for an important 2018 season, but unless someone steps up and sets themselves apart, we could see both players receiving playing time this fall.
One other issue with Kyler is the multi-million dollar contract from the Oakland A’s. Most of his game is based on his ability to scramble, and make plays outside of the pocket. Kyler and his mobility will be tested early, and whether or not he’s ready to risk huge hits in the open field has yet to be seen as he’s not being tackled constantly in practice like he would during an actual game.
Many believe the job is already Kyler’s to lose, but with a lot of practice left to play before the season opener, Lincoln Riley has a really tough decision to make on who will lead his team.