NORMAN — Oklahoma’s finish line for announcing a starting quarterback continues to be more than a few strides away.

Coach Lincoln Riley said he’s not any closer than last week, but he did give an idea of what the timeline would be during a Tuesday gaggle with reporters.

The Sooners had a five-day session and then took Thursday off. Another five-day stretch ended Tuesday — punctuated with an evening scrimmage — and the team will get Wednesday off before a final stretch of practices until the start of school Monday.

“The off days have kind of been a chance for us as coaches to go back and look at the entire roster,” Riley said. “And that’s what we do during those days, visit about each position group, what it’s looking like. It’s a chance to do some different breakdowns.”

The history of Riley’s past two quarterback announcements: In 2015, Baker Mayfield was named the starter Aug. 24. Last season, Kyler Murray was the starter on Aug. 22.

The evaluation process is pretty deep, Riley said. He looks at drill work but pays special attention to the competitive portion of practices.

Stats during competitive sessions are helpful, he said, but not exclusive to what he’s looking for out of his starting quarterback.

“It’s a feel of who’s not only playing well and completing passes and doing their job well, but who’s running the group well. Who’s handling the group? Who’s communicating well? Who’s got poise when something doesn’t go right?” Riley said. “There’s so much that goes into it.

“So first, we stat our guys out — we’ve got a lot of different metrics to measure them. But also we don’t get away from kind of our gut feels of being around them. … We know what it looks like when it’s right.”

Jalen Hurts has a strong pedigree after his time at Alabama. Tanner Mordecai is in his second year in Riley’s system.

Also, freshman Spencer Rattler — five-star recruit — is considered a part of the competition, Riley said.

“He’s done a nice job. He’s a very gifted thrower. He’s done a nice job,” Riley said. “He’s more than anybody just kind of in a race against time, having not been here in spring. You can certainly tell that the other two were here for spring. And there’s no doubt, and certainly could early, but he’s gaining on — not necessarily gaining on Jalen or gaining on Tanner — but just gaining on getting to the point where he can execute and communicate everything that we want him to.

“He’s a quick study. And one thing I have appreciated about the kid, even though he wasn’t here for spring, he’s not afraid of the moment. He thinks he should be right in the middle of it, which you know, you better believe that. And he certainly has that self-confidence.’

All three quarterbacks are mobile. In practices, the quarterbacks are protected by a blue jersey.

What’s the evaluation process when the players scramble and can get tapped down by a one-hand touch instead of being taken down to the ground? And how does Riley get a true feel for what the quarterback can do with his legs?

Riley said last year Murray never went full speed in practice, but the coach knew that element was there.

“The guys we have now, specifically Jalen and Tanner, they’re a little bit bigger. So they both run very well. Nobody else has the speed that Kyler does. But they are also guys that are going to be difficult to bring down,” Riley said. “They both have that element. It is tough to evaluate. If you’ve got guys that are radically different, I think that’s something you take in account.

“But I do think we’ve got a group of pretty mobile guys back there.”

Eric Bailey


Twitter: @ericbaileyTW

Sports Writer

Eric covers the University of Oklahoma football and men’s basketball teams. A Haskell Indian Nations University graduate, he has been a member of the Tulsa World sports staff for 12 years. Phone: 918-581-8391