Resigned to backup duty last season, he sought greener pastures and the young man ended up going West, to Oklahoma, where Lincoln Riley has improved upon an offensive machine.
Hurts was not exactly a game-manager while under Nick Saban’s watchful eye, but he was not the high-voltage explosive quarterback that’s become so ubiquitous in today’s college game. Or at least he wasn’t.
The senior transfer looked every bit the weapon that Baker Mayfieldand Kyler Murray were in Norman these past two years, each of which ended in a Heisman Trophy. Hurts threw for three scores, ran for three more, and missed on all of three passes in a 49-31 victory over Houston. Yes, the Cougars’ defense is more light beer than milky stout, but it’s impressive nonetheless.
By the numbers, it was far and away the best output of his career. And it wasn’t just a stat-sheet-stuffing performance either. Hurts looked perfectly comfortable embracing a diabolical scheme designed by Riley.
Allow ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky to break down all the moving parts here.
This is empirically terrifying footage for future opposing defenses to mull over in their film room. Even more so when one considers the Big XII’s, shall we say, laissez-faire approach to stopping drives and stalling offenses.
Look, Hurts was no slouch as a member of the Crimson Tide. He was playing with a governor on, not tapping into his full potential. And for good reason because, when you have the Bama defense, you are tasked differently. Riley appears to, yet again, be working his magic.
There’s a long way to go, of course, but if Hurts were to keep this up and win college football’s most prestigious prize, it’d be an incredible exclamation point on a sentence that may already be true: Oklahoma’s quarterback is the most lusted-after position in the sport.
Think about it. Where else would you rather be? The results speak for themselves.
All Hurts did in his first foray is put up the single greatest game performance in Sooners history. We should probably take a deep breath before completely overreacting. Yet it’d be silly to deny what our eyes all saw.