Over at SB Nation I have a piece up on Jalen Hurts and his fit within the Oklahoma offense in 2019. Overall I think this was a nice addition by Lincoln Riley and further evidence that they are establishing Norman as a destination for top skill talent and QBs. There’s definitely going to be some negative recruiting against Riley by other schools concerning whether he honors the QBs on his roster or whether he can develop HS kids.
However, they also have a better bridge now from Kyler Murray to Spencer Rattler, they still have Rattler committed, and they’re going to have an easy sell to QBs in the future. “Yeah sure, if you aren’t one of the best in the country we’ll do what we can to push you aside. But if you are the best in the country, there’s no better place to prove it.”
These things are always tenuous. It appeared as though Texas had QB figured out better than anyone with an amazing line of succession from Vince Young to Colt McCoy to…Garrett Gilbert. Things don’t always hang together, but OU has a better chance of making this work if they can be a destination for transfers then if they were totally dependent on nailing their HS evals and recruiting battles in the years where there’s enough distance between the star QB and the successor.
If Rattler gets on campus and he’s not the answer (nor Tanner Mordecai), but Hurts has a strong year then Oklahoma will be in great position to go get the next big transfer QB. Then Rattler can go transfer to Northwestern or Michigan or something.
As far as Hurts’ fit, here are a few big offseason pieces the Sooners will want to sort out:
1. Zone-read run game. The GT counter scheme is great but you won’t want to be a one play run game. Their tackle lead play is also a great complement to inside zone, which I think is technically the base scheme of the Sooner run game even though in effect it’s really GT counter. Anyways, they’ll want to flesh out their zone-read game because it’s comfortable for Hurts and will undoubtedly be effective for them. Additionally, if they don’t make QB draw a big part of the deal next year then I don’t know what Riley is thinking.
2. RPOs. It’s a simple, one-read concept but I’ve seen Hurts either not be entrusted to actually read them or else make iffy decisions. For instance…
The LB kinda slow plays this a little but he’s turning to the RB and is there when the pass is, he just misses the open field tackle and the SS can’t get off the block by the flexed out TE to help restrict the space.
I think it’s just a reps thing. Give him enough reps in these and he should be okay, but their usage of those schemes was way more restrained with Hurts than when Tua Tagovailoa was in there. There’s something about how Hurts approached them that they didn’t seem all that comfortable with, I think he just doesn’t have a good knack for making quick decisions throwing the ball. Running it on the other hand, he’s very comfortable making option reads there.
3. They need to get him up to speed in all of Riley’s tricks for creating one-read throws and easy pitch and catch situations. They could probably even afford to sacrifice some potency on RPOs to get this right because increasing the danger of the run game with pass options is much less important for OU’s chances next year then getting as much value as possible out of their loaded WR corps.
Soon I’ll have some new thoughts on Oklahoma’s hire of Alex Grinch and what he’s facing in building a good defense.