Jalen Hurts Adds to Heisman Trophy Resume in No. 5 Oklahoma's Rout over UCLA

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistSeptember 15, 2019

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 14:  Jalen Hurts #1 of the Oklahoma Sooners runs over Stephan Blaylock #4 of the UCLA Bruins during the first half of a game on at the Rose Bowl on September 14, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Jalen Hurts and the Oklahoma Sooners dominated the UCLA Bruins 48-14 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, on Saturday night.

Hurts continued his strong start to the season by throwing for 289 yards and three touchdowns, adding 150 yards and a score on the ground. Charleston Rambo hauled in five catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns to help the Sooners keep their perfect record intact.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson threw for 201 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in a losing effort.

     

Jalen Hurts' Mobility Gives Sooners Nation's Most Prolific Offense

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 14:  Jalen Hurts #1 of the Oklahoma Sooners breaks free from the pocket on a run during the firt half of a game against the UCLA Bruins at the Rose Bowl on September 14, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Following in the footsteps of Heisman Trophy winners Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray is no easy task, but transfer Hurts is proving to be more than up to the task.

The 2016 SEC Offensive Player of the Year has fit right in in Norman, completing 82.9 percent (34 of 41) of his passes for 591 yards, six touchdowns and zero interceptions through his first two appearances as a Sooner. Not only that, but he also added 223 rushing yards and a trio of scores on the ground.

He continued to pad his 2019 Heisman Trophy campaign on Saturday against UCLA, torching the Bruins with both his arm and legs.

The 6'2", 219-pound dual-threat star made UCLA aware of his running abilities on the very first play from scrimmage.

He then capped off the opening drive by going right up the middle for a 30-yard touchdown.

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Oklahoma needed just five plays to go 99 yards (factoring in a 10-yard penalty), and all 99 came from Hurts' legs. That fast start helped the first-year Sooner make school history:

It's that type of explosiveness from the quarterback position that makes head coach Lincoln Riley's squad the most prolific offense in the nation, with all due respect to the likes of Ohio State and Clemson.

Hurts' running abilities will make it hard on opposing defenses to slow down the Oklahoma attack (which is averaging 55.7 points per game this season), but they do not necessarily make the Sooners the favorites to be the last ones standing.

Last year, Murray ran for 1,001 yards while leading Oklahoma to the College Football Playoff. However, that versatility did not make much of a difference against head coach Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide, as the Sooners fell behind by 28 points early in the 2019 Orange Bowl en route to a 45-34 loss.

Oklahoma's defense appears to be much improved this year, and if it holds up all season, Hurts' mobility could wind up paying off. If the Sooners fall short of a national championship this season, it won't be the fault of the offense.

     

Chip Kelly Should Be on Hot Seat with UCLA's Concerning Lack of Progress

CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 29: Head coach Chip Kelly of the UCLA Bruins is seen during the game against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Nippert Stadium on August 29, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Just three games into year two, it may be too early to fairly judge how the Chip Kelly era at UCLA will turn out. But early on, the results haven't been pretty.

And the lack of progress being shown by the Bruins should be concerning.

UCLA went just 3-9 in its first season under Kelly, managing just one victory against a team that finished above .500 (37-7 victory over Cal, which went 7-6). This season has started essentially the same way as last year: an 0-3 record, with losses to Cincinnati and Oklahoma mixed in.

There may be no shame in losing to the Sooners or the Bearcats, but Kelly made a name for himself at Oregon by being an offensive mastermind. Thus far this season, the Bruins offense has been underwhelming.

UCLA has managed just 14 points in each of its first three games. While Hurts and Co. put up a 34-spot in the first half, the Bruins could only put up seven. And that led to the second half being just a formality.

Their struggles go deeper than that, though. Oklahoma had more rushing (228) and passing (206) yards than the UCLA offense had total yards (116).

The most concerning part has been Thompson-Robinson's struggles. According to 247Sports, Thompson-Robinson was a 4-star recruit coming out of high school and the second-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the class of 2018. He figured to be a good fit in Kelly's uptempo offense, but the results have not been there yet for the sophomore.

Thompson-Robinson has completed just 54 percent of his passes for 556 yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions in three games. The team's struggles are hardly all on him, but the Bruins clearly need him to take the next step if they are going to be competitive.

It can take three years or so for a coach to make his mark on a program—but Kelly's recruiting classes have not been among the nation's best. He was only able to put together the 40th-ranked recruiting class for 2019, per 247Sports. That included zero commitments from a 5-star recruit and just one commitment from a 4-star. Meanwhile, next year's recruiting class currently sits at No. 67.

Kelly is fortunate enough to have three more years remaining on his $23.3 million contract, but the deal does include a $9 million reciprocal buyout. If he is unable to start winning games or at least show signs of improvement, the Bruins may need to contemplate moving on at some point.

     

What's Next?

UCLA (0-3) will head north for its first Pac-12 game of the year against Washington State on Sept. 21. Oklahoma (3-0), meanwhile, will be off until Sept. 28, when it kicks off conference play by hosting Texas Tech.

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