It wasn’t exactly the situation OU fans wanted to see Kyler Murray. He was started Saturday’s game against West Virginia due to Baker Mayfield’s suspension to start the game over his ridiculously overblown crotch grab from last week’s game against Kansas.
Well, Murray made his presence felt right off the bat when on the first play from scrimmage, Murray ripped off a 66-yard run down to the West Virginia four-yard line. Rodney Anderson finished off the drive on the next play with a touchdown run and Kyler Murray was back to the bench, as Mayfield’s suspension was last one series.
Lincoln Riley said they always believed in Murray. “I think the team was very confident in Kyler (Murray) and I thought that Kyler was ready to go regardless of who was behind center.”
Meantime, Murray knew his time would be limited and tried to make the most of it, saying, “We schemed something up. It was a regular run play that we have had and we saw the look being squeezed a little bit. I knew in the game I only had one drive so I was going to try and make the most of it. He gave me a little bit of room and from there you saw what happened.”
But as it turned out, the opening drive wouldn’t be it for Murray. With Oklahoma leading 52-24 late in the third quarter, the Sooners went back to Murray to finish off the game and give him some valuable in-game reps.
Murray finished 2/2 for 52 yards and one touchdown pass, plus three carries for 80 yards.
Lincoln Riley kept it pretty simple for his back up, with some option runs, and passes in the flat. But Murray’s most impressive play, even better than his opening 66-yard run that flashed his wheels, was on 1st and 10 from the WVU 46-yard line, Murray hit Myles Tease on a post route, who took it to the end zone for a score. The throw was a little low, but he had to squeeze it into a fairly tight window between WVU defenders.
Overall, the play calling was ideal from Lincoln Riley, who was clearly trying to build the young man’s confidence, who likely won’t see much, or any, playing time the rest of the season.
But OU fans need to come to grips with the fact that the Baker Mayfield era ends in the coming weeks. It felt like it never would, and understandably fans never want it to. But #6 had plenty of praise for the player who is expected to take over at quarterback in 2018, saying, “I can relate to Kyler and where he’s at mentally after playing freshman year and transferring and sitting out. At this point, he’s ready to go. This program’s in good hands, we have a great coaching staff and with Kyler at the reigns next year, he’s a very talented guy. Arguably the fastest guy on our team and the combination with his arm.”
From the limited action and only two throws, Murray doesn’t have the arm of Mayfield, but boy do those wheels make up for it. The good news is the passing side of the game is something quarterbacks are constantly looking to improve on. You can’t teach speed. At least not Kyler Murray speed.
And no one is looking forward to 2018 more than Murray, who added, “I think that everything happens for a reason and God put me in this position for a reason. It has been a hard time learning and trying to have patience but it is all going to pay off, and I think I have done a pretty good job of it so far. Sitting behind a guy like Baker, I have the most respect for him so I am taking it how it is. I have more years here.”
There’s no doubt patience has been key for a former 5-star talent like Murray. But the time off to learn Riley’s system and study Mayfield will be so valuable for Murray when he takes over the starting job next fall.
Fellow freshman wide receiver Cee Dee Lamb said it best after racking up 92 receiving yards and four catches, “We did have a sneak peak of what will happen in the future. With Kyler in, I feel like we run the ball pretty well. I have no doubt in my quarterback and neither do the coaches and all of my teammates.”
And that sneak peak of the future sure does look bright.