NORMAN, Okla. (AP) - Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts is aware that many consider him a top Heisman Trophy candidate.
He just doesn’t care.
Hurts leads the nation in passer efficiency and ranks 10th nationally in rushing yards per game, leading many to wonder if he can become the third straight Oklahoma quarterback to win the Heisman. He calls the hype “rat poison” and is focused solely on the sixth-ranked Sooners’ matchup with Texas Tech on Saturday.
“I mean, it’s not the first time I’ve had to block it out,” Hurts said. “We just focus on what we need to do as a team, what we want to do as a team. I’ve been saying rat poison forever and I’m going to continue to say it because that’s what it is. I’m not worried about none of that. I’m worried about what we want to accomplish as a team and what we need to do as a team to achieve those goals and the process of doing it.”
Hurts gained some of his mentality from Nick Saban, his former coach at Alabama.
“That’s why I went there,” Hurts said. “It’s kind of always been like that. I’m a coach’s kid. Just kind of the rarity of being that way, I guess, seeing different things growing up and having different approaches on different things - that’s why I am the way I am.”
His transfer to Oklahoma has been smooth - the Sooners lead the nation with 676.7 yards per game.
Texas Tech lost to Arizona two weeks ago against dual threat quarterback Khalil Tate. Texas Tech coach Matt Wells said Hurts doesn’t have Tate’s speed, but he has plenty of other good attributes that make him one of the nation’s best.
“I think Jalen Hurts throws the ball better,” Wells said. “He’s thicker. He’s stronger. He’s more of a power runner, but don’t confuse power runner for a lack of speed. That’s not the case with No. 1. He’s got really good speed.”
TEXAS TECH QBS
Texas Tech quarterback Alan Bowman is out with a shoulder injury, and Wells said Jett Duffey and Jackson Tyner will share the responsibility of filling in.
Duffey, a dual threat, stepped in during last year’s game against Oklahoma after Bowman left with a collapsed lung. Duffey completed 9 of 17 passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns and ran 13 times for 47 yards and a score, but Oklahoma held on for a 51-46 win.
“He’s got game experience, he’s a good runner, he’s a very capable thrower,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said. “Probably one of those things, if you’re in a situation like this where you lose your starter to injury, you hope to have a guy like him behind him. So I’m sure they’ll be very confident.”
Tyner is a transfer from Rice who has thrown three passes this season.
Texas Tech is allowing just 13.7 points per game this season, 16th nationally, and their pass defense ranks third nationally. Linebacker Jordyn Brooks leads the team with 35 tackles, defensive back Douglas Coleman has two interceptions and defensive lineman Broderick Washington has created havoc up front.
Oklahoma’s defense under new coordinator Alex Grinch has caught Wells’ eye. Linebacker Kenneth Murray and defensive lineman Neville Gallimore stand out.
“Kenneth Murray is a Sunday (NFL) player,” Wells said. “Gallimore is a Sunday player. And they’ve got some younger guys up front and in that front seven that are long, strong and athletic.”
Oklahoma kicker Calum Sutherland was arrested last week in Oklahoma on a public intoxication charge. Oklahoma’s depth chart shows that Sutherland or Gabe Brkic will handle kicking duties on Saturday.
“We’re going to deal with it,” Riley said. “I’m not going to tell you how we’re going to deal with it. It’s going to handled internally, but trust me it’ll be handled appropriately and a correct message set on what we expect in our program, conduct that’s expected. And when guys drop below the line, they’re going to be punished.”
Oklahoma receiver CeeDee Lamb got most of the attention heading into the season, but Charleston Rambo leads the team in catches, yards and touchdowns. The speedster had 11 catches for 251 yards and four scores. Lamb has nine catches for 229 yards and three touchdowns.
GROUND AND POUND
Even with an elite passing attack, Oklahoma ranks second in the nation in rushing with 324.3 yards per game. Hurts leads the way with 124.3. The Red Raiders gave up 314 yards rushing against Arizona, including a 13-play, 99-yard drive in the fourth quarter that featured all runs.
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