NORMAN, Okla. — Kyler Murray's wild weekend began Friday night in Austin, Texas, where he hit leadoff for the Sooners' baseball team against the Longhorns. The following morning, Murray was on a flight to Oklahoma for the Red-White spring football game. After which he went immediately back to the airport for the Sunday tilt in Austin.
Murray didn’t do much on the diamond, striking out twice in a series-opening loss to Texas.
But Saturday afternoon, he showed why he might one day be a menace for the Sooners on the gridiron.
Despite operating on limited sleep, Murray stole the spring game show away from everyone, including Heisman contender Baker Mayfield and Austin Kendall, the latter with whom Murray is battling for the backup quarterback job behind Mayfield.
Murray completed 9 of 13 passes for 144 yards and tossed a 70-yard touchdown strike to Jeffery Mead over the top of the defense. Murray dazzled with his wheels, too, rushing for a boatload more yards, even with spring game rules restricting how much quarterbacks could run.
“I feel like I played OK,” Murray said. “Just being out there with the guys and tossing a little bit and running around a little bit. Not too flashy. I tried to keep it simple and I felt that I played pretty good when we were going out there running. I wasn’t trying to do too much.”
When Murray first transferred from Texas A&M, he thought this would be the year he would be competing for a starting job. Instead, the Big 12 gave Mayfield back his fourth season of eligibility, allowing him to return for his senior year.
But Murray still has plenty to gain this offseason, as the battle to be Mayfield’s successor in 2018 already has begun.
“I just go in there every day and just work, go out to practice ready to work and just have fun with it,” Murray said. “I really don’t pay attention to that. Like I said, just having fun with it.”
As a result, Murray himself was fun to watch on Saturday.
Reminiscent of Barry Switzer’s old Wishbone quarterbacks, Murray stands only 5-foot-10, 192 pounds. But just like those option greats, the country’s former No. 1 dual-threat quarterback prospect can dash out of the pocket to turn the pressure back on opposing defenses.
“He's a pretty relaxed guy,” offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley said. “And then when you have the athleticism that he does, it's not hard to be relaxed. If something gets out of whack, he can take off and run it a long ways. He's got the athleticism to be able to get out of things.”
Being relaxed seems to be helping Murray in the pocket, as well. On the touchdown pass to Mead, he stood coolly in the pocket and delivered the throw on time and on the money.
“He's like anybody, he's been in the system now for a year,” Riley said. “I think he's a lot more comfortable with what we're doing.”
As good as he was on Saturday, Murray hasn’t done enough quite yet to overtake Kendall, who was Mayfield’s backup last year while Murray sat out under transfer rules. Coach Bob Stoops said the Sooners probably won’t announce a No. 2 quarterback until the fall, either.
But traveling to and from Red River capitals, Murray sure looked primed to shine in the Cotton Bowl down the line.