Carlson: Why Sooners QB Spencer Rattler looks like a future Heisman Trophy contender
Spencer Rattler popped off the endzone turf and started high stepping.
He had reason for jubilation.
Not just after his second-quarter touchdown run, one of four that the OU quarterback had a hand in Wednesday night. The celebration went well beyond a single play or a solitary moment in a Cotton Bowl rout of Florida.
From start to finish, Rattler outplayed the Heisman Trophy finalist on the other sideline.
Florida quarterback Kyle Trask has been tabbed as a finalist for college football’s top individual award. He’ll find out next week if he won, though I suspect he’ll finish behind Alabama’s DeVonta Smith and Mac Jones and Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence.
Still, Trask was one of the best during the regular season.
But Wednesday, he wasn’t anywhere close to Spencer Rattler’s level.
On the night the Sooners destroyed the Gators, Rattler wasn’t the biggest storyline. The interceptions by the OU defense and the rushing yards by the OU offense took top billing, as well they should have. Wasn’t so long ago that three interceptions was almost a half a season’s worth of turnovers for the Sooner defense, and considering Florida’s SEC affiliation, bullying your way to 435 rushing yards is significant.
- Related to this story
- Article: OU Sooners: Spencer Rattler's growth and the 21 things to look forward to in 2021
- Article: OU football: Austin Stogner returns for Cotton Bowl after surgery for infected quad injury
- Article: OU football: Five takeaways from the Sooners' 55-20 Cotton Bowl win over Florida
- Article: OU football: Watch Sooners celebrate Cotton Bowl rout with Malcolm Kelly's famous freestyle rap
- Article: OU football: Sooners set Cotton Bowl records & other key numbers to 55-20 win vs. Florida
- Article: Tramel: OU football report card in Cotton Bowl has high marks for Sooners' power football & clutch defense
- Article: Tramel: Physical Sooners are just on another level in Cotton Bowl win over Florida Gators
- Article: Cotton Bowl notebook: OU football team fires back at Florida LB after Sooners' rout: 'They aren't Big 12'
- Article: OU football: Sooners center Creed Humphrey declares for 2021 NFL Draft
- Article: OU football: How interceptions set the tone of Cotton Bowl — and beyond — for Sooners
- Article: OU football: Sooners backup QB Chandler Morris announces he will transfer
- Article: OU football: Kennedy Brooks and Jalen Redmond returning to Sooners, but Tre Norwood declares for NFL Draft
- Article: OU football: Former Sooners QB Chandler Morris is transferring to TCU
- Article: OU football: Sooners WR Charleston Rambo says he is entering the transfer portal
- Article: OU football: Sooners QB Spencer Rattler projected to win 2021 Heisman Trophy
- Article: OU football: Sooners QB Spencer Rattler among early 2021 Heisman Trophy favorites
- Article: OU football: Sooners RB Rhamondre Stevenson entering NFL Draft
- Article: OU football: Sooners DE Ronnie Perkins declares for NFL Draft
- Article: OU football: Sooners LB Nik Bonitto says he is returning for 2021 season
- Video: OU Football: Cotton Bowl Blowout
- Video: OU football: Spencer Rattler on Cotton Bowl
- Video: OU Football: Cotton Bowl has high marks for Sooners' power football & clutch defense
- Video: OU Football: Sooners set Cotton Bowl records in 55-20 win over Florida
But the biggest bright spot going into 2021 is Rattler.
He is ready for greatness.
“It's a blessing to be in this spot with my guys,” he said after the bowl. “I can't wait for the future.”
His teammates’ feelings about him should be similarly mushy. He gave them lots to be excited about in the final month or so of the season.
Wednesday was a microcosm of his stellar play.
He completed 14-of-23 passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns and rushed seven times for 40 yards and that one touchdown. To be fair, Rattler threw a couple of beautiful deep balls that could’ve and maybe even should’ve been caught, and he never threw a pass that came anywhere close to being intercepted. Still, by OU standards — or at least the ones that Lincoln Riley has made the norm since taking over the offense — Rattler didn’t have the most eye-popping stats.
But here’s one that is: he quarterbacked 12 possessions Wednesday night, and eight ended in scores.
Six of those were touchdowns.
Those are extremely high and efficient ratios.
And lest you heard Florida coach Dan Mullen talking nonsense after the game about how the Gators played their last game of the season in the SEC title game and about how they played a bunch of scout-team players because of the starters who were unavailable, the Gators’ absences neither by volume nor by import were on defense.
Rattler and Co. did their damage against a Florida defense that was largely intact.
Or at least, it was until the Sooners ripped it apart.
And remember, Rattler didn’t have all his weapons either. T.J. Pledger decided to transfer. Jaden Haselwood was hurt. Kennedy Brooks opted out before the season began. And hey, if you want to go back even further, Trey Sermon transferred last offseason.
I don’t recall Riley or Rattler or any other Sooner whining about how they had to use reserves. Probably because they were too busy busting the Gators in the chops.
What the Sooners did Wednesday should be a huge boost of confidence heading into the offseason.
“We wanted to make this a statement,” Rattler said. “And as a group, we did that.”
It’s impossible to understate Rattler’s role in that, though.
“At the beginning of the season, he was new to it just as I was,” Sooner speedster receiver Marvin Mims said. “We were both making mistakes. Over time, we just grew into the potential. It’s not even capped off yet. We’re still growing into the players we’re going to be.”
The Sooners weren't perfect against the Gators, and that includes Rattler. He fumbled once. He was sacked twice.
Spencer Rattler could’ve been better.
But he was way better than the guy who has a chance to win the Heisman — and for Sooners near and far, that is cause for celebration.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 405-475-4125 or email@example.com. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok, and support her work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.