By Michael Kinney
NORMAN – Late Sunday night, Jalen Hurts strode to the podium for his first-ever post-game press conference at Oklahoma. Wearing a grey suit vest, a purple and blue striped tie and a crisp white shirt with the sleeves rolled up, he looked like a CEO ready for a hostile takeover.
After being pushed to the bench last season at Alabama, Hurts came to Oklahoma on a mission. In his first game with the Sooners, he helped engineer a 49-31 victory over Houston while breaking several offensive records in the process.
“I was in a situation or position where I am back to where I am supposed to be,” Hurts said. “I can’t say that I haven’t done it before maybe with a little rust on. But being out there with this team, this group, is very exciting and I enjoyed it a lot.”
Hurts threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns on 20-of-23 passing. He also added another 176 yards rushing and three rushing scores. He became the first Sooner to ever pass for at least 300 yards and rush for at least 150 yards in a game.
Hurt’s 508 yards of total offense were the most by a player in an OU debut. The old record was held by Baker Mayfield, who had 396 yards against Akron in 2015.
“He played good. He played good. Several things he could do better,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said. “I thought he handled the moment good. You could tell out there that he’d been in it, certainly. I’m sure he had some nerves, but he did a good job managing them. I thought he made good, sound decisions and managed the game well.”
OU totaled 686 yards of offense (354 rushing, 332 passing), the most in program history in a season opener. The Sooners also rushed for 300 yards and passed for 300 yards for the 12th time in program history
Hurts first drive a member of the Sooners couldn’t have gone any better. The entire drive took 70 and ended with him throwing a TD pass to fullback Jeremiah Hall.
Two possessions later, Hurts completed an 89-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. He then connected with CeeDee Lamb for a 45-yard touchdown strike to go up 21-0.
“I actually lost him. When I turned around, I didn’t know where he was, I just saw the ball in the air,” Lamb said. “He told me when we got to the sideline that he had to scoot into the pocket, and then that’s when I lost him, because I didn’t know where that was. He did a great job throwing the ball in the run and getting the ball where it needs to be.”
As impressive as Oklahoma’s offense looked, it was the defense that was turning heads. The Sooners didn’t give the Cougars any room to breathe as they attacked from all points on the field.
But that changed midway through the second quarter when Houston quarterback D’Eriq King started to rack up yards with his legs. That set up a pair of scores and OU led 21-10 at halftime.
If not for two missed field goals from sophomore Calum Sutherland, the Oklahoma lead could have been more.
The Sooners started the second half with a 56-yard touchdown catch by a speedy Charleston Rambo and another Hurts TD run to push the lead to 35-10.
That essentially put the game away. Houston was able to tack on three more touchdowns and cut the lead down to 12, but Oklahoma was never in any danger of giving the game away.
Houston racked up 408 total yards, with 255 of those coming after halftime.
“The biggest takeaway that I had from tonight is that we have to be more consistent. We did a lot of great things but, there’s definitely a lot of improvement that we need to do,” said Kenneth Murray, who had 13 tackles. I am excited to get back to work so that we can get all those things reworked and put on a great show.”
The Sooners will host South Dakota Saturday.
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider