In what has become an annual tradition of comparing new Oklahoma transfer quarterbacks to their predecessors, it’s time we take a closer look at how the Sooners’ offense with Jalen Hurts compares to the team’s production with Heisman Trophy winners Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray.
No. 5 Oklahoma is 3-0, ranking first nationally in total yards per game (676 YPG) and second in points per game (55.7 points), after wins over Houston, South Dakota and UCLA, and Hurts’ early-season production suggests he will be firmly in the Heisman Trophy conversation.
Keeping those three opponents in mind, we’re here to add context to the reemergence of Hurts as a starting quarterback and why Oklahoma’s offense could potentially be even more prolific this season than it was with Mayfield or Murray in their Heisman-winning campaigns.
We examined Oklahoma’s first three games from the last three seasons, analyzing only the offensive drives in which Mayfield played in 2017, Murray played in 2018 and Hurts played this season.
The Sooners have been known to blow out some of their opponents in September, resulting in their starting quarterback getting pulled in the second, third or fourth quarters, so this examination doesn’t include the team’s offensive production when its starter was on the sideline.
It’s worth restating that Oklahoma’s first three opponents were Houston (No. 107 defense in SP+), South Dakota (FCS) and UCLA (No. 62 defense in SP+), while the Sooners played at Iowa State (No. 28 defense) in their third game last season and at Ohio State (No. 7 defense) in Week 2 of the 2017 season.
Oklahoma and Jalen Hurts have yet to face an opponent or a road test quite like the 2017 Buckeyes or 2018 Cyclones this season, so keep that in mind as you read the advanced stats we calculated below.
Here’s how Oklahoma’s offense through three games this season compares to its first three games in 2017 and 2018 when its starting quarterback was on the field.
Yards per play
|Season||Number of Offensive Plays||Oklahoma’s Total Yards Gained||Yards/Play|
Percent of plays that resulted in a first down or touchdown
|Season||Number of Offensive Plays||First Downs + Touchdowns||First Down/TD %|
|Season||Run Plays||Yards Per Carry||Pass Plays||Yards Per Attempt||Run/Pass%|
|Season||Number of Quarterback Runs||Yards Per QB Carry||Percent of All Run Plays||Percent of All Plays|
Lack of negative plays
|Season||Number of Negative Plays||Number of Plays||Percent of Plays That Lost Yards|
Moving the chains on first down
|Season||Number of First Down Plays||Number of First Downs/Touchdowns on First Down||Percent|
Third down success
|Season||Number of Third Down Plays||Number of First Downs/Touchdowns on Third Down||First Down/Touchdown Percentage on Third Down|
Oklahoma’s explosive plays
|Season||10+ Yard Plays||%||20+ Yard Plays||%||30+ Yard Plays||%|
Now here is each quarterback’s raw stats through three games from the last three seasons, when removing sack yards from Hurts and Murray’s rushing numbers:
Jalen Hurts: 80.3%, 880 passing yards, 14.4 Y/A, 9 TD, 0 INT; 390 rushing yards, 10.8 avg., 4 TD
Kyler Murray: 67.1%, 863 passing yards, 11.8 Y/A, 8 TD, 1 INT; 175 rushing yards, 6.7 avg., 2 TD
Baker Mayfield: 76.8%, 1,046 passing yards, 12.7 Y/A, 10 TD, 0 INT
While it’s worth acknowledging Oklahoma’s toughest competition still lies ahead, the early returns from the Jalen Hurts era in Norman suggests the Sooners’ offense could be even more explosive than it was in years prior with a pair of Heisman Trophy winners and No. 1 overall picks in the NFL Draft.