Max Olson, ESPN Staff Writer 498d

Take Two: Big 12 spring game developments

In this week's Take Two, we're taking a closer look at two of the biggest developments from Saturday's spring games across the Big 12.

Take 1: Mitch Sherman -- Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray

You can see for yourself the impact that Murray made Saturday on the Red-White spring game at Oklahoma.

I’m more interested, of course, in his potential down the road. Perhaps in 2017. If the unthinkable happens for Oklahoma and Baker Mayfield misses a start -- or more than one -- the Sooners have less reason to panic than they did before Murray calmly led the offense on Saturday.

Those who’ve watched Murray closely have known for years that he’s a special talent. And more than a special talent, Murray possesses a knack for clutch play that sometimes defies logic. He was the Gatorade National Player of the Year as a senior at Allen (Texas) High School. He’s a budding star in baseball, too, batting leadoff Friday night for OU at Texas before jetting back to Norman for the football scrimmage.

Something about Murray is just different. Saturday served to reinforce that notion.

So if all goes as planned at Oklahoma in 2017, we’ll likely talk next with such reverence about Murray at this time next year, though surely with more urgency. If he’s needed sooner, Murray appears ready.

Nothing against Austin Kendall, Mayfield’s backup last season, or newcomer Chris Robison, but they’re not Murray, who played extensively as a true freshman in 2015 at Texas A&M.

The Sooners have not named him as their top backup to Mayfield. After Saturday, it’s not really necessarily.

Take 2: Max Olson -- TCU defense

I wrote on Monday about the rough day TCU’s quarterbacks had Saturday in the Horned Frogs’ spring game, so it seems only fair that I acknowledge the flip side of that performance: TCU is going to have one salty defense this fall.

Gary Patterson is working with a lot of talent throughout this defense, and I think some of the lumps they took in 2016 are going to end up being a positive for their development. They grabbed five takeaways Saturday and allowed just one score on 16 drives. I’d consider that a job well done, even in an overly vanilla scrimmage.

Defensive end was a concern when Josh Carraway and James McFarland graduated, but it looks like Ben Banogu could be a terrific solution there. The Louisiana-Monroe transfer sat out last season after a really nice debut season where he earned started 13 games and logged 14.5 TFLs and five sacks as a redshirt freshman in the Sun Belt.

I have zero concerns about the Frogs’ linebackers, and clearly Patterson is confident about what he has there because he’s experimented with using Ty Summers at rush end this spring. That sounds like a fun curveball for a unit that is loaded with experience.

The cornerback spot was definitely a question mark in 2016, but pretty much everybody’s back there. The Frogs have some terrific young talent at the safety spots. They’ve got experience across the board, and I get the sense they’re going to give this TCU team a chance to win many more games in 2017.

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