One of the main conversation points heading into the 2019 college football season was the preponderance of top-flight quarterbacks who transferred either during or after last season.
Brandon Wimbush left Notre Dame for Central Florida. Jacob Eason ditched Georgia for Washington and Kelly Bryant joined Missouri after losing his job to Trevor Lawrence at Clemson.
The expectation was both would make immediate impacts on their new programs – and that it wouldn’t take long for it to happen. And that’s exactly how it turned out when the season kicked off last weekend.
Fields completed 18-of-25 passes for 234 yards and four touchdowns to go along with 91 rushing yards and a touchdown rushing to lead the Buckeyes to a 45-21 win over Florida Atlantic.
Hurts was even better during the Sooners 49-31 win over Houston. He completed 20-of-23 for 332 yards, three TDs and no interceptions. He also rushed for 176 yards on just 16 carries and scored three more.
Let’s begin with Fields, the top-ranked QB coming out of the 2018 high school class. He helped Ohio State score four touchdowns on its first four possessions, throwing for three and running for another in just the first 10 minutes.
Fields’ five touchdowns were the most in a player’s first game in Ohio State history. It began with a 51-yard touchdown run on the Buckeyes first possession. Fields was 7-of-9 passing for 115 yards and three TDs in the first quarter.
“I think I did good overall,” Fields said. “Of course there’s always room to improve, but we just have to keep working as a unit and just keep getting better in all aspects of the game.”
Ohio State’s new head coach, Ryan Day, was happy overall with the play of his sophomore.
“Protections, reads, decisions, a lot to build from off of today,” Day told the media after the game. “I thought overall, though, game management was decent. There was one time where he scrambled out and took a sack. Could have just thrown it away, and could have been second and 10, I think it was second and 14.
“A lot of things going on there. Overall pretty solid, and a ton to learn from. As you look at the film, sitting there for 74 plays, you’re going to be able to teach off of those 74 plays.”
Hurts was simply fabulous, immediately drawing comparisons to Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, the last two Oklahoma QBs and consecutive Heisman Trophy winners.
“I’m back where I’m supposed to be,” said Hurts, who is wearing Murray’s No. 1. By the way, Murray was on the Sooners sideline on Saturday and was seen talking to Hurts during the game.
“He’s waited a long time,” Hurts’ father, Averion Hurts, told ESPN’s Holly Rowe. “He’s back where … you could say he belongs.”
You’ll remember Hurts was the SEC’s Offensive Player of the Year as a freshman and was the Crimson Tide’s starting QB in two straight national championship games. But during the 2018 title game, Alabama coach Nick Saban replaced him with Tua Tagovailoa, who led the team to a comeback win over Georgia.
Tagovailoa won the job last year, but Hurts provided exceptional play as his backup, leading the Crimson Tide to the SEC championship by rallying them in relief of the injured Tagovailoa.
“The reality is I’m not the same player I was as an 18-year-old freshman, a 19-year-old sophomore,” Hurts said. “We did some good things tonight, but we’ve gotta continue to take steps to be where we want to be.”
Like Day on Fields, Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley measured his praise of Hurts, who joined Murray as the only Sooners QBs to pass for at least 300 yards and rush for at least 100 in the same game.
“He played good. There are several things he can do better, but I thought he handled the moment,” Riley told the media. “You could tell out there that he’d been in it [before]. … I thought he made good, sound decisions and managed the game well.”
According to ESPN stats, Hurts accomplished a feat that only one other player had in the last 15 seasons:
In Oklahoma's 49-31 win over Houston, Jalen Hurts became the 2nd player in the past 15 seasons to have 300+ Pass yds, 3 Pass TD, 150+ Rush yds and 3 Rush TD in a single game.
The only other player to accomplish this feat was Johnny Manziel in 2012. pic.twitter.com/8yH8R59FLD
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 2, 2019
The glossiest play of the night might have been his 45-yard strike to receiver CeeDee Lamb in the second quarter.
“I can’t sit here and say I ain’t done it before,” said Hurts, whose 176 rushing yards were a career-high.