How would potential QB change differ from 2005?
NORMAN — The last time OU made a mid-season quarterback change that wasn’t due to an injury, TCU was involved as well.
That time, way back in 2005, it was a stunning season-opening 17-10 loss to the Horned Frogs that was the impetus for then-head coach Bob Stoops and then-offensive coordinator Chuck Long to make the switch, inserting Rhett Bomar in place of Paul Thompson.
This time, the Sooners enter a game
against the Horned Frogs with their quarterback situation in flux with a change likely to be made.
Sooners head coach — and offensive coordinator — Lincoln Riley said this week that he would not name a starter ahead of Saturday’s game against TCU (6:30 p.m., ABC) after freshman Caleb Williams replaced starter Spencer Rattler during last week’s game against Texas and led the Sooners to a wild, come-from-behind victory.
There was no such delay 16 years ago, though.
Less than 48 hours after the loss, Stoops announced that Bomar would be starting the next week against Tulsa.
There was no such declaration this time, even if it appears likely Williams will be the starter Saturday.
There were plenty of differences from that 2005 quarterback decision and this one.
That time, Thompson and Bomar battled for the starting job throughout preseason camp with Thompson edging out Bomar, primarily because of Thompson’s ability to hold onto the football.
After Thompson turned the ball over twice in the opener against TCU, that reason went out the window and the door was opened for Bomar to take over.
This time, Rattler came into camp as the clear starter after helping lead the Sooners to eight consecutive wins to end last season.
“We have competition at each spot, but I would say in fall camp … I’d say not close,” Riley said this week. “It was very clear that Spencer was the guy that was going to start the season. I don’t think there was any doubt about that.”
As good as Williams looked against the Longhorns, Rattler has had his moments as well. He had 332 yards and a pair of touchdowns through the air in last season’s win over TCU, four touchdowns and more than 300 yards in a Bedlam victory, and kept the momentum going in a Big 12 Championship Game win over Iowa State and a Cotton Bowl blowout over Florida.
Thompson didn’t have that kind of track record, instead serving as Jason White’s backup in 2002 and 2003 before redshirting in 2004. Thompson hadn’t thrown more than 10 passes in a game for the Sooners before starting that season opener against the Horned Frogs.
Thompson also didn’t come in with the hype Rattler — or Williams or Bomar had. He was listed as an athlete in the 2004 signing class in which the Sooners also signed quarterback Noah Allen.
Rattler was the No. 13 player overall and the top dual-threat quarterback in the 2019 class according to Rivals. He was the Sooners’ highest-ranked quarterback signee since Bomar, who was the No. 4 player and top pro-style quarterback in the 2004 class.
Williams didn’t even reach those heights, settling in at No. 6 on Rivals’ final rankings in 2021.
Those Sooners also didn’t have the expectations that this year’s edition did — and does.
OU entered that season ranked No. 7 but with plenty of questions all around and plummeted to No. 18 in the wake of that opening loss and out of the poll after a loss to UCLA two weeks later.
This time, OU remains undefeated and, though questions linger, the Sooners are No. 3 and right in the thick of the College Football Playoff race less than three weeks before the first CFP rankings are released.
“The team does have high expectations, and I think we’re learning more and more to try to zero in on our own and not to worry,” Riley said. “We’re not worried too much about the outside. … Our team’s doing a better job of that as we go forward.”