While it’s still unclear how good (or bad) Oklahoma is this season, one thing became clear this weekend.
This is Spencer Rattler’s football team.
Saturday night against West Virginia, after Rattler overcame a rocky start and some unseemly chants from members his team’s fan base (mostly originating from the student section), he calmly led the Sooners to the tying and winning field goals, and then drew unwavering support from his teammates and others.
Rattler posted a bible verse on Instagram — “If God is for me, who can be against me?” — several of his teammates responded with supportive comments.
“We riding with you,” said Arkansas transfer wideout Mike Woods.
“Say it again for the fans in the back,” said senior defensive lineman Isaiah Thomas.
“Let’s ride 7,” said kicker Gabe Brkic.
“Straight up,” said H-back Brayden Willis.
Rattler threw what looked like a bad interception — his third of the season — but coach Lincoln Riley explained the pick was not Rattler’s fault.
“We totally busted a route that was probably his best throw of the night,” Riley said. “So I know how it looks to the casual fan. I'm certainly not saying that Spencer can't play better. He can. He will. But we've gotta play better around him too.”
Said Rattler, “We had a communication error. We were supposed to run a post on the outside, instead we run a curl. That let the corner drop off and make a play. Just small little things like that. Things that may not catch your guys’ eyes but things we need to work on.”
After the interception, the OU student section started a chant — and were quickly joined by others in nearby sections — telling Riley, “We want Caleb (Williams),” the Sooners’ backup quarterback.
That inspired former coach Bob Stoops to post his feelings on Twitter on Sunday night.
There’s no doubt Rattler needs to play better. He has needed to for the better part of September. But his performance in the fourth quarter against the Mountaineers shows he can do exactly that.
Trailing 13-10 to start the final period, Rattler engineered two field goal drives to tie it and then win it at the buzzer.
On his final two drives, Rattler completed 11-of-12 passes for 86 yards, including 6-for-6 on the final drive that started at the Sooners’ 8-yard line.
Fans still perturbed at Rattler for not throwing deep, for overthrowing or underthrowing open receivers, for not seeing receivers as they break open or any number of shortcomings over the first four games would do well to remember one simple thing:
He had opportunities to win two games last year against Kansas State and Iowa State. And instead of leading his team to victory, he threw interceptions at the end and the Sooners lost.
“Personally, I thought that last drive showed maturity,” Rattler said. “Last year, a lot of things could have happened during that drive and that situation. This year, we’ve had a couple of drives like that and converted them to win a game.”
No matter how powerful their arm is, no matter how fast their feet are, now matter how many times they walked on or where they transferred from, quarterbacks are most accurately judged by one thing.
Winning. And right now, Oklahoma is 4-0.
“Listen, it ain't easy when you've had a night like that — and we've all had 'em,” Riley said. “And we've gotten, all of us, probably a little spoiled around here because we haven't had too many offensively. But it ain't easy to go down there ... 8-yard line, backed up, and you've gotta drive it down there to go score and win the game. And not only did we do it, but we did really a great job of just kind of executing, turning into a four-minute situation where we're able to burn clock and leave them no opportunity to win the game. Some of our best ball right there at the end.
“We’ll own what we didn't do well. We're not gonna shy away from that. I tell you what, it takes a lot of balls, alright, to do what we did there at the end. So people better see that, too.”
Want to join the discussion? Click here to become a member of the AllSooners message board community today!
Follow AllSooners on Twitter to stay up to date on all the latest OU news.