As fall camp gets underway in Norman there are multiple position battles that are about to get heated but none greater than quarterback.
Despite putting off millions of dollars from Major League Baseball to return to Oklahoma for one final season, Lincoln Riley maintains that Kyler Murray has yet to win the starting job. OU’s second-year head coach insists that the quarterback battle will continue through fall camp and there’s no reason to doubt him.
“Kyler’s not the quarterback yet,” Riley said when asked about the offense under Murray at Oklahoma’s Big 12 Media Day. “There’s a really good competition going on and Kyler’s gonna have to fight like crazy to win this job.”
The assumption was that if Murray is putting off serious coin from the Oakland Athletics to play a last season of college football then it must be because he’s been unofficially named the starter at some point some where.
To be honest I felt that way, and somewhat still do, but there’s been zero evidence of that. Instead everywhere you look you only see competition.
This all speaks to the rise of Austin Kendall in the spring. If you saw Oklahoma’s spring game then you’ve seen that there isn’t really any separation between the two quarterbacks. Kendall doesn’t have the wheels that Murray does but he may have more arm strength and certainly seems to have better accuracy.
His experience is limited, appeared in two games in 2016, completing 16 of 22 passes for 143 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, but that’s certainly not hindered him in the competition.
Murray is the more dynamic of the two candidates. He’s got a good arm and blazing speed on the ground. There’s a lot more that Riley could do with a guy like Murray rather than Kendall just because of his speed.
In eight games at Texas A&M in 2015 (three as a starter) Murray averaged 6.3 yards per carry. In limited action last season at Oklahoma he ran at a clip of 10.1 yards per carry. To put that in perspective Rodney Anderson averaged 6.2 yards per carry last season.
Baseball May Be The Key
One aspect that cannot be overlooked in this competition is that Kyler Murray was splitting time between baseball and football during the spring. When you consider that he was actively playing two sports at once the the fact that there was no separation is actually more of a testament to Murray than it was Kendall.
With baseball being put on hold since last month’s MLB draft Murray’s focus has been 100% on football over the summer. That could certainly be the difference maker between the two as the position battle gets going.
My bet is still on Murray getting the nod here but Austin Kendall is going to be a great option in 2019.