NORMAN — Entering the 2021 season, expectations are sky high for redshirt sophomore Spencer Rattler.
But in Saturday’s Red/White Game, it was his understudy, true freshman Caleb Williams, who stole the show.
“I thought Caleb was solid. I thought he was pretty decisive on the day,” head coach Lincoln Riley said in a Zoom press conference after the game. “Made good decisions, made some pretty good throws, got the ball out of his hands, so I thought he, for the first time out there and kind of in that moment, I thought he did a nice job and he's still got so many things to clean up and learn as we go forward, but he certainly has the ability to do a lot of things well and showed some of those things today.”
On his first drive of the game, Williams pulled the ball down twice, showing off his high-end athleticism as raced the defense down the sideline, avoiding getting touched to blow the play dead.
As the afternoon wore on, however, the Washington, DC transplant settled in and began to make plays with his arm.
Showing off the arm strength and accuracy that earned him the top quarterback spot in the 2021 class, Williams completed 10-of-11 passes for 99 yards and a touchdown.
His performance in the spring game capped off a spring which saw the youngster draw great reviews from his teammates.
“He came in and he has the mindset he’s going to play Day 1, 2,” linebacker Caleb Kelly said after the game. "So, it keeps the competition in there. I know Coach Riley loves it because he’s got two guys (Rattler and Williams) that can start anywhere right there in his pocket, and you know what Riley can do with quarterbacks. I think him playing today, that’s how he is too. He’s going to throw the ball, he’s going to run. He has that ability. He’s fast for sure.
“This spring, he’s really good for a young guy, for sure. He’s a good guy off the field too. I’m going to spend a lot more time with him and I’m excited about it.”
After learning under veteran quarterback Jalen Hurts in his freshman season, Rattler knows what Williams is going through, and hopes to be able to mentor the young quarterback in 2021.
“I feel like I'm the big bro. He looks off me and learns from me, and same with all the other guys.,” Rattler said. “I feel like I'm the ... I'm not the oldest in the group, but out of all those young guys, I am the oldest. I feel like the big bro in there so I try to set the tone on the field and set the example.
“He did a good job today with what Coach Riley was calling, just running the offense.”
As with any sibling rivalry, occasionally the little brother gets one over on his elder.
Rattler’s starting job isn’t in danger, but Williams was the one who flashed in front fo 22,700 fans on Saturday. The presence of the talented Williams in the quarterback room should continue to motivate Rattler, providing him with talented competition, although it would take a major shocker for Rattler to lose his starting job.
Riley will be pleased though. Quality depth, especially at the quarterback position, is never a bad thing, and it appears Oklahoma’s offensive guru has found exactly that in Williams.