One of many nation’s premier quarterbacks may begin his crew’s recreation on Saturday sitting on the bench.
Spencer Rattler, as soon as thought-about the Heisman entrance runner and a possible top-five decide within the 2022 NFL Draft, has seen a stark reversal of fortune in 2021 — a 12 months through which he has garnered extra consideration for his on-field setbacks than his playmaking potential.
MORE: Lincoln Riley ought to begin Caleb Williams, however conserving Spencer Rattler engaged is essential for Oklahoma
That was most evident in his benching for true freshman Caleb Williams within the Pink River Showdown: He struggled mightily within the first half, committing two turnovers, as Texas jumped to a 28-7 first-quarter lead. Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley has unwittingly created a media circus by refusing to call a starter or in any other case deal with the state of affairs, however mentioned briefly following his crew’s 55-48 win that he benched Rattler due to turnover points.
Rattler completed the sport finishing 8 of 15 passes for 111 yards and an interception, including minus-9 rushes and a misplaced fumble on 5 carries. Following his second turnover — each led to Texas touchdowns — Riley benched him in favor of Williams, beginning with the Sooners’ closing drive of the primary half. That mentioned, Riley did credit score Rattler for finishing an important 2-point conversion try to tie the sport at 41-41 within the fourth quarter. He additionally mentioned he thought-about letting him return for the Sooners’ go-ahead landing drive, which Williams finally led.
Saturday’s recreation wasn’t the primary time Rattler has struggled, not solely this 12 months, but in addition in earlier seasons. Think about the 2020 Pink River Showdown: Then, as in 2021, Riley benched Rattler in favor of Tanner Mordecai following a first-half fumble and interception by the starter. Not like 2021, Spencer took over following halftime, finishing 15 of 24 passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns to guide the Sooners to a four-overtime victory over the Longhorns. Oklahoma did not lose one other recreation en path to a 9-2 season.
Following his benching vs. Texas, together with the second half vs. the Longhorns, Rattler accomplished 137 of 212 passes (61.1 p.c) for 1,983 yards and 17 touchdowns to 2 interceptions. He additionally added 4 dashing scores. In all, he completed the 2020 season with 3,031 passing yards, a 67.5 completion proportion and 32 complete touchdowns.
MORE: How Oklahoma shocked Texas for largest comeback in Pink River Showdown historical past
Six video games into the 2021 season, it appears Rattler was unable to construct off his redshirt freshman marketing campaign. Whereas it is true he has an absurd 74.3 completion proportion, he has solely handed for 300-plus yards as soon as and has interceptions in 4 video games. He has 10 passing touchdowns and 5 interceptions by means of six begins. He additionally has three dashing touchdowns and two fumbles.
Rattler’s comparatively below-average play hasn’t adversely affected the Sooners’ file, however Oklahoma has struggled to single-possession victories over unranked Tulane, Nebraska, West Virginia, Kansas State and No. 21 Texas. The one crew the Sooners have overwhelmed by multiple possession is FCS opponent Western Carolina, who misplaced 76-0 to Oklahoma in Week 2.
Rattler’s play has been famous by Sooners trustworthy, together with followers who booed him in Week 4 towards West Virginia. Additionally they referred to as for Williams to come back on in substitute in what was finally a 16-13 Oklahoma win. Riley lastly obliged them two weeks later.
MORE: How Caleb Williams, Sooners modified Pink River Showdown, Large 12 race and extra in 55-48 thriller
The place does that depart Rattler shifting ahead? Beneath the NCAA’s new one-time switch rule, he may conceivably enter the switch portal and take over for a crew in want of a quarterback. He has three extra years of eligibility, together with the 2021 season, and will rebuild his draft inventory at one other college. One other potential transfer is to forgo his closing years of eligibility to organize for the NFL Draft, a transfer that has gained reputation in recent times amongst a number of draft-eligible prospects.
For now, it seems the Oklahoma quarterback is dedicated to the Sooners at the very least by means of the season. His father, Mike Rattler, mentioned they may re-assess the state of affairs following the 2021 marketing campaign.
“For proper now, he’s centered on working for this crew, and we’ll see what occurs after Jan. 10,” Mike Rattler informed the OU Each day. “Hopefully he’ll be enjoying within the nationwide championship on Jan. 10, after which after that we’ll consider the place he’s so far as if any groups are concerned with him within the NFL, we’ll take into account that.
“If we predict, ‘Hey, you understand what, we might should do one other 12 months or one thing at Oklahoma, wherever’… we’re leaving our choices open whereas that’s involved, however for probably the most half, proper now, we don’t even discuss it, as a result of he’s acquired a process at hand to cope with.”