OU football: Marvin Mims, Seth McGowan emerge as potential stars in Sooners' opener
NORMAN — Spencer Rattler was the star of OU’s season-opening 48-0 blowout of Missouri State on Saturday.
There’s zero doubt about that.
But Rattler wasn’t the only Sooners offensive youngster to emerge as a star in the win.
Two other freshmen — running back Seth McGowan and wide receiver Marvin Mims — certainly had the looks of players who will be making their marks for OU over the next few years.
“They both did some good things,” Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said. “They’re two pretty explosive kids for their age. Both kids physically are in a pretty good place and have picked stuff up well. They both have some home-run ability.”
And they both showed that Saturday.
Though McGowan scored first — his 1-yard touchdown run ended OU’s first drive — it was Mims that first showed off his big-play ability.
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Mims danced through a group of defenders on his first punt return, then found some wide-open space.
The return wound up being only 17 yards after a collision with a teammate slowed Mims’ momentum, allowing a Missouri State defender to make a tackle he might not have made otherwise. But it gave OU fans a quick indication of Mims explosiveness.
The Sooners had only three punt returns 17 or more yards last season. Mims had three in the first quarter of Saturday’s game.
“He was a pretty polished kid coming out of high school,” Sooners outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons said recently of Mims. “He’s stepped into a room with an opportunity with a sense of confidence and understanding that, ‘I’m not just happy to be here but I belong here.’”
And Mims proved that Saturday.
A play after his initial punt return, Mims got behind Missouri State’s secondary and hauled in a 58-yard touchdown pass, Rattler’s first touchdown pass as the Sooners’ starter.
Mims wound up with three catches for 80 yards and a touchdown and three punt returns for 68 yards.
McGowan, like Mims a product of the Dallas area, was almost as impressive during his Sooners debut.
He showed off his versatility later in the first quarter. Rattler swung the ball out to his left to McGowan six yards behind the line of scrimmage. McGowan took it from there. He met little resistance until he reached the 30, then used a burst of speed to escape trouble and break free for what wound up being a 37-yard touchdown.
“That dude’s a monster,” Rattler said. “I even said it before the game, if he touches the ball four times, he might score four times. And I think he almost did that tonight. He’s a great player.”
He didn’t quite get four, scoring twice, but averaged 6.8 yards on nine carries plus that catch. With the Sooners limited at running back, they needed a strong performance from the freshman and he delivered.
“The moment wasn’t too big,” Riley said. “He was able to take some things he’d done on the practice field and carry them over to the game field.
“When you don’t have hesitation at a young age, that’s a great quality.”