NORMAN — By November, Oklahoma shouldn’t have to solve any mysteries as it prepares for a game. Two months worth of game film have revealed everything there is to know about an opponent.
But Texas A&M, which OU will face at 6 Saturday night at Kyle Field, threw out a curveball last week when it made Ryan Tannehill its starting quarterback. It’s highly unlikely that will change after he threw for a school-record 449 yards and four touchdowns in the Aggies’ 45-27 victory over Texas Tech.
The Sooners took notice.
“I’ve always thought he’s an excellent football player,” OU coach Bob Stoops said of Tannehill Monday. “He definitely is playing confidently. He throws a great ball. He’s a big, strong, atheltic guy. You can tell he has a good feel and sense of the offense and what they want him to do.”
It’s not like Tannehill was some hidden gem on the Texas A&M bench. He was the backup quarterback, but he was also being used as a receiver and made 11 catches for 143 yards in the Aggies’ first six games.
“Tannehill is a great athlete. You could see that when he played wide receiver,” OU safety Quinton Carter said. “He can run really well and he’s smart. Now we know he has a good arm.”
The Aggies expected to have a quarterback like that this season. People had been saying those things about Jerrod Johnson since 2008. This was supposed to be the year Johnson led Texas A&M into the chase for a Big 12 title. He was the preseason Big 12 offensive player of the year and was a Heisman Trophy candidate when the season began.
But Johnson threw nine interceptions in the first five games and struggled in a 30-9 loss to Missouri at Kyle Field Oct. 16.
Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman opened the quarterback competition two weeks ago with Johnson and Tannehill splitting snaps in a 45-10 victory at Kansas, and Tannehill claimed the job heading into the Texas Tech game.
After Tannehill’s performance against the Red Raiders, saying the Aggies have a quarterback controversy would be a bad choice of words. Tannehill is the guy.
Does that mean all the studying the Sooners did of earlier Texas A&M games is meaningless?
No. The quarterback has changed, but it’s still the same offense.
“They’re not changing schemes and things of that nature,” defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. “They’re both mobile and athletic. They’ll move the pocket and have boots and sprints and quarterback run game and obviously throwing the ball all over the lot. For the most part, that’s what they did with Johnson as well.”
The difference is Texas A&M is playing with a confident quarterback.
John Shinn 366-3536 firstname.lastname@example.org