Sep 26, 2020; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Spencer Rattler (7) throws during the first half against the Kansas State Wildcats at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Death, taxes and outstanding Oklahoma offense.
Many things change in college football from year to year, but the Sooners producing one of the nation’s best offenses is one thing that seems resistant to change. That can be largely attributed to head coach Lincoln Riley, who has solidified himself as one of the game’s best offensive minds.
Here are five things to know about the 2020 Oklahoma offense ahead of Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. kick at Jack Trice Stadium.
1 – Another Phenom
Sure, Oklahoma’s fourth starting quarterback in the last four seasons looked shaky in the second half of last Saturday’s 38-35 loss to Kansas State, but don’t get it twisted. Spencer Rattler has all the talent in the world to be the next big thing in college football.
You don’t have to look back far to see the signs of that considering he was absolutely dominant in helping the Sooners build their 21-point lead over the Wildcats. Yes, the wheels fell of a little bit for the redshirt freshman, who was the consensus No. 1 quarterback in the 2019 recruiting class, but with the best quarterbacks coach in the country leading him this week, do not be shocked to see Rattler back on his game in Ames.
He enters Saturday’s game fourth nationally amongst quarterbacks who have played two games averaging 338.5 yards per game and holding a 209.1 passing efficiency mark.
“I think (what you see) first and foremost is elite arm strength. When you watch him play, the thing that’s so impressive like so many of their guys is the way that the ball really jumps off of his arm,” Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell said on Tuesday. “His ability to make all those throws that you’ve seen really over the last, we’ve seen it up close and personal over the last five years and it’s been really impressive. I think the second thing is you can see him getting into a good rhythm over the early part of the season with some young players in some new roles for them. You can see over the course of even two games just the steps that they’re making. I think a really dangerous, potent offense and Spencer is a really talented football player.”
2 – All-New Tailbacks
The Sooners returned just 20.4 percent of their rushing yards and 18.4 percent of their rushing touchdowns from a season ago. That lack of returning production is due to Kennedy Brooks’ decision to opt out of the 2020 season along with Trey Sermon’s transfer to Ohio State.
Now, the Sooners are left with a group of largely inexperienced tailbacks that has been led so far this season by true freshman Seth McGowan. The former four-star recruit has tallied a team-high 134 rushing yards to go along with three rushing touchdowns.
McGowan is joined in the running backs room by sophomore TJ Pledger (who recorded 41 yards on 13 carries against KSU) and redshirt freshman Marcus Major (11 carries for 31 yards against Missouri State, but did not play against K-State). Rhamondre Stevenson was the program’s leading returning rusher from last season, but he has yet to play for the Sooners through two games.
3 – Rambo & Mims
While Rambo and Mims could sound like the name of the next terribly great buddy cop movie, it is actually a reference to Charleston Rambo and Marvin Mims, Rattler’s top two targets in the first two games.
Rambo has caught nine passes for 110 yards and two scores while the redshirt freshman Mims has eight receptions for 110 yards and three touchdowns. Mims’ three scores are the most by an OU freshman in their first two games since Ryan Broyles (the program’s all-time leader in most receiving categories) did the same in 2008.
4 – Familiar Name, Different Face
If you thought the Stoops name was gone for the Oklahoma program when legendary head coach Bob Stoops handed the keys to Lincoln Riley, think again. Drake Stoops, Bob’s son, recorded a team-high 93 yards on three catches plus his first career score during the loss to Kansas State.
His role will likely only continue to grow after the breakout game against the Wildcats.
5 – Questions up front
Oklahoma’s offensive line can be expected to be among the best units in the country most every season, but this year’s group has gotten off to an uncharacteristically slow start.
Led by 2019 Big 12 co-offensive lineman of the year Creed Humphrey, the group was flagged eight times during the loss to the Wildcats with six of them being of the holding variety. That was compounded by struggles to protect the quarterback along with few solid running lanes for the tailbacks, especially in the second half as they recorded just 23 yards on the ground.
“We had a bunch of big penalties on big plays,” Riley said after the game. “Gonna have to go look at it. Kinda like the whole team, there were some positives, there were some negatives and they’re going to have to get better just like everybody else.”