Taking Stock of Spencer Rattler's Unique Arm Talent
John. E. Hoover
Oklahoma players and coaches knew what they had in Spencer Rattler from all the times he’s thrown the football in practice.
Whether it was on the scout team against the Sooners’ starting defense, or in practice with the starting unit, Rattler’s arm talent is unique. It literally stands out from other quarterbacks.
But to witness it in a football game, with enemy pass rushers bearing down on him and opposing defensive backs trying to stop him, was something else altogether.
“You guys saw it,” said H-back Jeremiah Hall.
“The film shows it,” said receiver Theo Wease.
Hall and Wease were on the end of Rattler’s two best throws in Saturday night’s 48-0 victory over Missouri State in OU’s season opener. Hall’s sliding, comeback catch of a Rattler improv in the first quarter showed Rattler’s ability to make a play off script and still deliver perfection. Wease’s catch of a rocket showed what Rattler can do when the play goes off as planned.
“That pass he threw to me,” Wease said, “that was probably one of the craziest catches in my life, honestly.”
Rattler took a shotgun snap, faked a handoff and dropped back. He planted his feet at in between the hashmarks at the OU 34-yard line, and threw a deep out to Wease, who caught the football on the sideline at the Bears 25. Not including the diagonal element, that’s a 41-yard throw with a defender in front and the sideline in back, and the track of the ball itself was almost perfectly flat.
“It’s like a 30-yard back shoulder — straight rocket,” Wease said. “Yeah, I’m excited for this season. I’m excited for what else he can do in the future.”
“He does have a very talented arm,” said head coach Lincoln Riley. “No question.”
On the throw to Hall, Rattler again worked a quick play-fake, then waited for someone to clear. When no one did, he stepped up, slid to his left, then took off. From the 30-yard line, he spotted Hall in the front corner of the end zone, then quickly squared his shoulders, set his feet and fired. Hall, with a defender on his back, went low to catch the ball at the 2, just in front of the sideline.
“He looked at his read to the right. Wasn’t there,” Hall said. “And from my perspective, you know, it's just keep playing and keep playing. Coach Riley always talks about go out there and make plays. And (Coach Shane) Beamer emphasizes always play to the end of the whistle. So, that's what I did. We rolled out, I rolled out with him just like we would do in practice, and he made a throw, I made a play, and the rest is history.
“He put it on the money. He put it where either I could get or nobody could get it. And honestly, when he threw it, I was kind of like, ‘Uhh, I don’t know…’ But like I said, I just kept playing and came back to the ball. Maybe I could have scored…? But it was a great throw, and he’ll make plenty more just like that the rest of the season.”
Riley will coach Rattler to let the game come to him. There will be plenty of future moments for him to step up and show off his golden arm, but his priority over the next few weeks will be to continue learning the offense and to continue growing into the role of leading this team.
“I think the biggest thing with him is confidence,” Hall said. “As a veteran, everyone at the offense pretty much is older than him. So we do our part to help make things easier on him, and I know the one thing I look for from him is confidence. If he’s confident, then we’re gonna go out there and do our thing, regardless.”
“Spencer is an all-around great dude,” Wease said. “He wants to put the work in. I can tell he really wants to be great. Extra time with us in the film and making sure everything is pinpoint perfect and making sure we’re all on time with the routes and everything.
“He’s definitely made that big step in actually being a leader, actually being the leader for the offense, just being a leader for everybody. Leading by example in all the ways.”
Riley explained that while yes, Rattler’s arm strength may be rare, it’s not necessary rare at Oklahoma — even this season.
“Certainly don’t want to take anything away from those throws,” Riley said. “I thought the one to Jeremiah, there was a lot of feel on it. And a lot of trust, because Jeremiah had to really come back to that ball and Spencer did a good job putting it where only our guy could get it. So it was really great placement and a lot of trust and a heck of a play by Jeremiah to come get it.
“But we’re lucky right now to have a roster of quarterbacks that’s got some pretty big arm talent. You look at some of the throws that Tanner made, you look at some of the throws, even Chandler’s first throw, those are big-boy throws.
“Spencer’s certainly a very talented thrower, no question, and not to take anything away from him, but those are throws that I would expect every guy in our room to make.”
To get the latest OU posts as they happen, join the SI Sooners Community by clicking “Follow” at the top right corner of the page (mobile users can click the notifications bell icon), and follow SI Sooners on Twitter @All_Sooners.