NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma‘s quarterback situation is not as settled as it seemed.
The Sooners are seeking a replacement for Heisman winner Baker Mayfield, and Kyler Murray and Austin Kendall are the top candidates for the job. Murray was the backup last season while Kendall redshirted. Based on Murray’s outstanding work last season, it seemed he was the clear front-runner. Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said that’s not the case.
“Austin has started to settle in this last half of spring,” Riley said after the spring game. “He’s played really well. He did a lot of nice things today. It’s neck-and-neck right now without a doubt.”
Much of the buildup during the spring had involved the quarterbacks, but neither was sharp during the spring game because of the wind. Murray completed just 11 of 21 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown and rushed nine times for 35 yards. Kendall completed 11 of 18 passes for 134 yards and a score.
Riley said the summer work both put in will be critical.
“We’re going to have a ton of great film to go back through spring and evaluate what we’ve done well, what we need to do better,” he said. “I think they’re continuing to learn about our personnel. We’ll continue to narrow down the personnel for them, which makes it easier. So, yeah. It’s a process. We’re just kind of in the middle of it right now.”
Sophomore Grant Calcaterra will replace Mackey Award winner Mark Andrews at tight end. Calcaterra led the way with 59 yards and a touchdown receiving in the Spring Game.
“I’ll just kind of step in and do exactly what he did,” Calcaterra said. “I don’t think they’re going to change anything with the offense. I think I’ll kind of step into that tight end role and continue to try and do what he did here and leave my mark as well.”
One of the keys this spring was patching up an offensive line that lost All-American left tackle Orlando Brown to the NFL. Riley said Cody Ford, a 6-foot-4, 346-pound junior, was strong during the spring. He said Jonathan Alvarez and Creed Humphrey were solid, too.
The running back missed last season with a shoulder injury. He came back and rushed for 109 yards on 11 carries in the spring game. Oklahoma already had a crowded backfield with Rodney Anderson, Trey Sermon and Marcelias Sutton back, and newcomer T.J. Pledger in the mix. Riley made a point to talk Brooks up.
“He’s got kind of a unique running style,” Riley said. “He kind of slides through there, it’s kind of easy and all of a sudden he’s out. He’s pretty smooth. He’s a really natural runner.”
The perception has been that Murray is the runner and Kendall is the pocket passer, but Kendall showed some mobility in the Spring Game.
“He’s a person that when he’s back there, they’re going to have to account for him,” Riley said of Kendall. “It’s in a different way than Kyler, but certainly effective.”
SPRING GAME EVENT
The school went all out to make the spring game more of an event than in the past. A crowd of 52,102 fans attended. Trace Adkins had a pregame concert, and a statue of former coach Bob Stoops was unveiled and dedicated before the game. Former Sooners Adrian Peterson and Trent Williams were honorary coaches.
“This is an event where we got a lot done,” Riley said. “I think we’ll continue to build on. I think it has a chance to get bigger and bigger not only for this football program, but also this university and our little part of the state here.”