Caleb Williams was imagined to do for Oklahoma in 2021 what Bryce Younger did for Alabama in 2020: maintain a clipboard, take garbage-time snaps, impress coaches and teammates on the scout staff and bide his time till the second inevitably got here when he’d take management of the offense.
Within the newest twist in an unpredictable rivalry, the Sooners’ 55-48 win in opposition to Texas within the Purple River Showdown was keyed by the true freshman, who threw for 212 yards and ran for one more 88 with three touchdowns after changing an ineffective Spencer Rattler.
The play of those two passers — with Williams on the rise and Rattler cratering beneath big expectations — will go away coach Lincoln Riley dealing with the primary true quarterback dilemma of a tenure outlined by his capability to show any possibility at his disposal right into a Heisman Trophy contender.
Will it’s Williams, who has completed nothing however impress since arriving on campus earlier this yr? Or will it’s Rattler, who was pegged because the nation’s finest quarterback in August however hasn’t come near assembly the hype?
Behind an improved protection and a manageable regular-season schedule, it is this query that may decide whether or not Oklahoma can return to the Faculty Soccer Playoff after which advance in opposition to one of many prime groups from the SEC.
Partly, Rattler’s status was constructed on the concept that each OU quarterback who got here beneath Riley’s course had both received the Heisman, like Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, or come shut, like Jalen Hurts.
However the efficiency hasn’t been there in his second yr because the starter, making Rattler the face of the Sooners’ first half of the common season: good, even higher than most, however not ok.
Recent off the spark he offered Saturday, there could also be no higher time for Riley to show the offense over to the true freshman. OU is about to enter the comfortable center of its schedule: subsequent comes TCU, Kansas, Texas Tech and Baylor earlier than ending the common season in opposition to Iowa State, Oklahoma State and, presumably, within the Large 12 championship.
The query is which quarterback offers OU one of the best likelihood at finishing an ideal season, particularly given the largely stable play of a protection that was burned early by Texas however held the Longhorns out of the top zone from the midpoint of the second quarter till one minute left within the fourth.
The argument for Rattler is his relative expertise and the concept that the identical quarterback as soon as picked as a prime Heisman contender can rediscover his kind. For Williams, it is concerning the promise and potential he brings to an underachieving offense.
For the primary time in a largely spotless tenure, Riley must decide that may ripple via the Soccer Bowl Subdivision. The proper selection may lock the Sooners into the playoff, with the potential for extra.
Observe faculties reporter Paul Myerberg on Twitter @PaulMyerberg
This text initially appeared on USA TODAY: Spencer Rattler or Caleb Williams? Oklahoma coach should select QB