What will happen to the Oklahoma Sooners at the quarterback position?
By: Tom Rodriguez
The Oklahoma Sooners are riding high after a thrilling 55-48 win over their bitter rivals, the Texas Longhorns. Almost halfway through that game, Lincoln Riley made the bold decision to bench his starting quarterback, Spencer Rattler, for freshman backup Caleb Williams. The youngster chipped in over 300 total yards in a comeback effort. However, once the high of game wears off, Riley and Sooners face a rather uncomfortable situation. Rattler was not your “run of the mill” starting quarterback. He was a highly touted recruit who was supposed to be the next in a long line of recent Sooner quarterbacks to be drafted rather highly. Now, he may not even be the starter. Rattler has no one to blame but himself right now. Oklahoma is a powerhouse program for offense. Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, and Jalen Hurts all achieved new heights under Riley at Oklahoma. Rattler has struggled as of late and his lackluster first half in the Red River game was the final straw.
Who’s the starter?
Riley has been keeping his quarterback decision rather close to the vest, which is wise given how different these two young men are. With Willaims, opposing defenses need to worry about the ground game much more, as he’s a considerably better athlete. Riley has refused to answer who will be the starter, but we may have an idea based on recent reports. He canceled media access for the remainder of the week after a university student newspaper had reported that Williams is getting first team reps in practice, after watching from a public building. Both that report and simple common sense would have you believe that Williams is starting going forward. Williams might struggle in his first start, as he faces a Gary Patterson led TCU defense, that while is not playing as well as they normally do, is still never a defense you want to face in your first game.
Will Rattler see the field again?
Lincoln Riley has a dilemma going forward. If Williams is the starter, keeping Rattler ready will be paramount. The rest of the quarterbacks on the roster have thrown a combined 18 passes in college football, and none since 2017. Riley’s goal is to make the College Football Playoff once again, and he will likely have no problem benching a freshman for Rattler, who was a sure-fire first round pick just a few days ago. However, if Rattle reacts to a benching similar to when Kelly Bryant was benched at Clemson for Trevor Lawrence, Oklahoma will be without a suitable backup, and Williams propensity to run will open him to injuries. If Rattler believes he can win his job back, he may stick around.
What’s next for Rattler?
Spencer Rattler was supposed to be the man this year. A preseason Heisman candidate and first round pick, the stage was set for a stellar Rattler campaign. Consistency and decision making have held him back in 2021, thus possibly clouding what was such a bright future for the former five star recruit. Arm talent is something you can never question with Rattler. He is simply a gifted passer. Whether it is another university or an NFL team, he will most likely be throwing those passes in another uniform in 2022.
It feels unlikely that he would enter the 2022 NFL draft after losing his starting job. However, if he were to declare, he would most likely be a day two pick for a team that is either not sold on their current quarterback (New Orleans Saints) or looking to soon move on from an aging veteran (Atlanta Falcons). The transfer portal feels like a much more likely option. He may have a difficult personality, but teams like Iowa, Penn State, and Oklahoma State should be strongly considering bringing him in. The first two are national title contenders who appear to be being held back by middling to bad quarterback play.