Kyler Murray threw a first-half interception against Texas in the Cotton Bowl last season and it led to a Texas field goal.
Murray then had a third-quarter fumble against the Longhorns and it was crippling. Texas scored a touchdown. Two turnovers for Murray led to 10 Texas points and the Longhorns went on to win by three, despite a Sooner rally.
Spin it forward a year …
Jalen Hurts had a first-quarter fumble against the Longhorns ending a drive that was near certain to result in Oklahoma points. Hurts then threw an interception on OU’s next drive, again spoiling a drive in the Red Zone.
But the result of both of the turnovers was two Texas punts and zero Longhorn points. OU was able to overcome damaging mistakes that would have put this game beyond reach for UT, and it was because of its defense. A season ago that was not really a conceivable concept.
What we sorta knew going in was confirmed Saturday in the Cotton Bowl – the Sooners have the defense to compete. But one thing we still don’t know is what kind of decision maker Hurts is.
Murray and the quarterback before him at Oklahoma – Baker Mayfield – never had much of a defense to fall back on. They weren’t really afforded the opportunity to screw up, and they didn’t. Murray and Mayfield seemingly made the right decisions.
While the numbers for Hurts have been Heisman like this season, his ability to make the sound decision hasn’t – at least not in the past two weeks.
He threw a sure pick-6 against Kansas on a screen pass, but it was dropped. Saturday against Texas, Hurts had a Red Zone fumble, a Red Zone interception and another throw in the second half into the end zone that was lucky not to be intercepted.
The fumble can be explained away because of a great play by Texas defender Anthony Cook. The interception can’t. Neither can the other throw in the corner of the end zone. The interception was a miserable decision by a quarterback who is beyond making that kind of decisions. It was an easy decision, particularly one who has the resume Hurts does, to throw the ball away. Get some points instead. Don’t force anything. You know. You saw it.
“I will say I definitely didn’t put the team in the greatest and best situations, but the key about that is ‘we.’ We found ways to overcome it. We had each other’s back,” Hurts told the Tulsa World
“There’s a lot to learn from the game. I definitely think this team showed some perseverance and showed some mental toughness. We kind of overcame a lot of adversity as a group. It wasn’t a complete game but definitely another step in the right direction.”
Hurts is right. The Sooners did figure out a way to overcome, thanks to their defense, but overcoming a quarterback’s errors is not something OU has had to deal with in recent years.
Undoubtedly Hurts is a talent. No one’s debating it, or even considering debating it. However his questionable Red Zone behavior should be a concern.
The good news is Oklahoma appears to have the defense to overcome those errors. The bad news is a quarterback, particularly an experienced one, shouldn’t be playing so “fast” or with so little self-awareness when there are easy points to be had.