Rattler dazzles in first start

Oklahoma fans have seen some pretty impressive first starts from their quarterbacks in recent years, so what Spencer Rattler did isn’t anything out of the ordinary from a numbers game.

It’s the how it all happened that put a huge jolt of energy into the program and made a small crowd as loud as ever as Rattler was sensational in his first career start in OU’s 48-0 victory against visiting Missouri State on Saturday night.

It started with his first completion and never let up en route to going 14 of 17 passing for 290 yards and four touchdowns in the first half. That was enough for head coach Lincoln Riley to sit Rattler the rest of the way with a 41-0 halftime lead.

After all the hype, from fans and national analysts about what Rattler could be, it was time to deliver with the lights on. It didn’t take long for Rattler to settle in.

“Most definitely. I’d say after the first completion,” Rattler said. “That’s all I wanna do is get a completion, then I feel like I’m settled in. Get a first down, I feel settled in. But definitely those deep shots, those big touchdown shots get your confidence going and get the team going. That was a big energy booster for the offense.”

The deep ball is back in the OU arsenal, and Rattler threw a pair of beauties in connecting with Marvin Mims for a 58-yard touchdown on the second drive of the game. He followed that with a 53-yard touchdown strike to Charleston Rambo to make it 21-0 midway through the first quarter.

The phrase around Norman has been it just looks different when Rattler is making his throws. The way he releases it, the way he knows what touch, what velocity needs to be utilized with each and every pass.

Critics will say the inferior competition doesn’t help you learn a lot about Rattler or the OU offense, but it’s the manner in which the Sooners conducted themselves and racked up 608 total yards that should have fans excited about the next nine games on the schedule.

“I think just his overall poise in his game,” Riley said. “Some guys can get too up for these things, especially your first one and I thought he handled it the right way. He certainly had energy and juice, but he didn’t let that consume him and he didn’t try to do too much and that was always some of your chief concerns.

“And so I’m proud of the way he handled the situation. Your first start is always an experience and an emotion that you can’t really duplicate or predict until you actually just go in there and truly experience it. So I think his kind of calmness and poise allowed him to have a clear mind and make a lot of good decisions.”

Rattler connected with Rambo for two scores, also had a 37-yard touchdown pass to freshman running back Seth McGowan.

He finished with a 303.3 passing efficiency rating, giving him the OU freshman record and tied for third-highest in school history and became the first OU freshman to throw four touchdown passes in his first start.

In the first game, he came out and he was really poised, didn’t really panic or freak out too much, and he really did a good job leading the team today,” senior receiver Theo Howard said. “He made a lot of good throws. He just took a lot of command and really controlled the offense well today.”

The competition will take a step up with Kansas State coming to Norman in two weeks. But what Saturday proved was Rattler being able to handle the moment. And the moments will only get bigger the rest of the way.

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