Tramel's ScissorTales: OU football's Spencer Rattler is No. 1 in Big 12 QB rankings

Berry Tramel
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Big 12 quarterbacking has fallen from the Baker Mayfield/Patrick Mahomes glory days. It almost had to, didn’t it? 

But there are more questions than answers among the Big 12 quarterback jobs this spring. 

Today’s ScissorTales include a Thunder checkup at the trade deadline, a comparison of competitive parity in the NCAA Tournament for men and women, and a reminiscing email in honor of Elgin Baylor. But let’s start with my weekly Thursday list, this one ranking the Big 12 quarterback situations as spring football has arrived throughout the conference. 

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The List: Ranking Big 12 quarterbacks 

1. Spencer Rattler, OU: Rattler got better and better in 2020. His last four games – Bedlam, Baylor, Big 12 title game, Cotton Bowl – Rattler completed 73 of 109 passes (67 percent) for 1,013 yards, 10 touchdowns and one interception. 

2. Brock Purdy, Iowa State: The 34-game Cyclones starter was considered a potential early entrant for the NFL Draft. Good for ISU that Purdy is returning, but his quarterback rating has slipped every season. 

3. Skylar Thompson, Kansas State: Back for a fifth season after an injury-marred 2020, Thompson has been cleared for spring practice. Thompson hasn’t always played great, but he’s often played clutch. His career touchdown/interception ratio is 30/12. Thompson is 2-1 as a starter against both OU and OSU. 

4. Spencer Sanders, Oklahoma State: Sanders’ passing statistics were remarkably similar from 2019 to 2020. In both seasons, Sanders completed exactly 155 of 247 passes, for 2,065 yards in 2019 and 2,007 yards in 2020, with a TD/interception ratio of 16/11 in 2019 and 14/8 in 2020. But Sanders’ rushing went way down in 2020, from 628 yards to 269. OSU needs improvement in both land and air. 

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5. Jarrett Doege, West Virginia: The transfer from Bowling Green State was not as productive as the Mountaineers hoped. But he was an upgrade over OU transfer Austin Kendall. Doege completed 63.9 percent of his passes for 2,587 yards, 14 touchdowns and four interceptions. 

6. Tyler Shough, Texas Tech: Oregon’s starting quarterback has transferred to Tech, but it sounds better than it really is. Shough completed 63.5 percent of his passes in seven games, with 13 touchdowns and six interceptions. But he was not up to the Ducks’ usual standard. Can he live up to Tech’s standard? 

7. Max Duggan, Texas Christian: Duggan has proven to be more of a runner than a thrower in his two Horned Frog seasons, with 1,081 rushing yards. Duggan has completed just 56.5 percent of his passes, with a 25/14 TD/interception ratio. 

8. Casey Thompson, Texas: Thompson was great in the Alamo Bowl, after Sam Ehlinger’s injury, completing eight of 10 passes for 170 yards and four touchdowns. If Charles Thompson’s son plays anything like that, Thompson will skyrocket up this list. 

9. Jacob Zeno & Gerry Bohanon, Baylor: Who will start in the wake of Charlie Brewer’s transfer to Utah? They combined for just nine passes in 2020. Zeno was the third-team QB who had a memorable relief performance against OU in the 2019 Big 12 Championship Game, completing nine of 18 for 223 yards. 

10. Jalon Daniels, Kansas: We don’t even know who the Jayhawk coach will be, so how do we know who the quarterback will be? But Daniels is the best guess. As a freshman, he completed 76 of 152 passes for 718 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions. 

SGA injury will help Thunder lottery status 

I don’t expect much in the way of Thunder deals by the NBA’s trade deadline Thursday afternoon.  

The market for Al Horford probably will be greater in the summer, George Hill’s extended absence with a thumb injury has cooled interest in teams for the veteran combo guard and the only real reason to trade Kenrich Williams is because he’s helping the Thunder win too often. 

The latter is a malady that can be corrected by other means, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's plantar fasciitis will facilitate the losing. You don’t mess around with foot injuries, and there is no reason motivation for the Thunder to hurry back SGA, who is expected to miss extended time. 

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Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will miss an indefinite amount of time due to a foot injury.

The Thunder lost to Memphis 116-107 Wednesday night without Gilgeous-Alexander, and the game was a microcosm of the OKC season. The Thunder outworked the Grizzlies for much of the game and had a 61-49 lead early in the third quarter. 

Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins used his fourth timeout less than a minute into the third quarter. Memphis opened the second half with five straight turnovers and clearly wasn’t playing with any kind of intensity. 

That quickly changed. Memphis went from 12 down to 12 up in the third quarter and controlled the rest of the game. 

“Give them credit,” Mark Daigneault said. “They kind of weathered the storm. We really competed, played really hard, our intentions were good. We just got a little sloppy with the ball. They got a little too much with numbers.” 

Memphis scored 20 fast-break points, making nine of 12 shots in transition.  

The Thunder showed its season-long trend of everyone trying to contribute. With no SGA, there’s no prime scoring threat. Instead, seven Thunders scored in double figures, and Isaiah Roby finished with nine and Svi Mykhailiuk had seven. That’s a foul shot and 3-pointer from having nine double-digit scorers. Things have changed in Thunderville. 

“The ball movement and the offensive execution was pretty good tonight,” Daigneault said. “There were enough plays we didn’t finish, either with a missed shot or a turnover. That’s why transition defense is important.” 

We’ve all over-reacted to the Thunder’s surprising (relative) success. OKC is 19-25, 23rd in the 30-team NBA. The Thunder schedule is about to get a lot tougher. OKC won’t finish with the league’s worst record, but its lottery chances aren’t going to be destitute. It’s all about luck. The Thunder will be in the luck lane either way. 

And the SGA injury will only help. 

NCAA Tournaments: Men’s & women’s parity 

I enjoy the NCAA women’s tournament every year. Don’t watch religiously, but catch a lot of games, especially if they’re competitive. I watched most of Iowa State-Texas A&M on Wednesday night. 

But historically, the women’s tournament suffers in comparison to the men’s on two fronts: upsets and competitive games. The women don’t have near enough of either. 

And that hasn’t changed in 2021. 

Both tournaments have reached the Sweet 16. 

Upsets? The men have had a ton. Oral Roberts, a 15-seed, is in the Sweet 16. So is 12-seed Oregon State, 11-seed Syracuse and 11-seed UCLA. A 14-seed, Abilene Christian, beat Texas in the first round. Two 13-seeds, Ohio over Virginia and North Texas over Purdue, won. 

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Mar 21, 2021; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Oral Roberts Golden Eagles forward Kevin Obanor (0) and Oral Roberts Golden Eagles head coach Paul Mills react the defeating the Florida Gators at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

But the women’s side had scant few upsets. The lowest seeds in the Sweet 16 are 6-seeds Texas, Oregon and Michigan. The first round included just three upsets – 13-seed Wright State over Arkansas, 12-seed Belmont over Gonzaga and 11-seed Brigham Young over Rutgers. 

The women’s tournament needs more upsets to become appointment television. When you’re sure of the outcome, there’s less reach to watch. 

And the women don’t have a ton of close games. In fairness, the men’s tournament in 2019, despite all those upsets, had more than its share of blowouts, too. 

On the men’s side, the average margin of victory has been 13.3, and the mean margin of victory has been 13. The men have staged 47 games (not counting the First Four, which were excellent games, by the way), and only 16 were decided by single digits. That seems low. The eight Monday games were particularly one-sided – only Michigan’s 86-78 victory over Louisiana State was by single digits. 

On the women’s side, the average margin of victory has been 19, and the mean margin of victory has been 17. Not exactly oozing drama. Of the 48 games played, 15 have been by single digits, which seems low but at least is in the neighborhood of the men. 

It’s been a crazy year for all sports. So 2021 is no time to be reacting to crazy results. And the women are closing the gap on the men in competitive games; either that or the men are drifting closer to the women. 

But the women’s tournament remains an event that desperately needs more upsets. 

Mailbag: Elgin Baylor & a smoky night in the Forum 

Lakers great Elgin Baylor died this week at age 86. He was a forerunner of the high-flying talent that soon would dominate the NBA. Julius Erving, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant. 

Mike: “The first basketball game I ever saw that was bigger than the class B state championship game in 1964, was the Lakers vs the Bucks in the Forum in 1969. (Oscar) Robertson, Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar), (Jerry) West, Wilt (Chamberlain), (Elgin) Baylor. It was so smokey you could barely see the crowd in the upper section across the court. Wilt made Kareem look like Poku when they stood side by side. I shipped out to Vietnam the next morning. Aside, my dad got me a subscription to the Daily Oklahoman. As I shared it with friends, a lot of guys became Sooner fans, at least for a year.” 

Tramel: Great memories. Now, Cincinnati didn’t trade Robertson to Milwaukee until 1970, so I don’t know if Mike got the year wrong (probably not; you know when you went to Vietnam) or just thought Oscar was in the house. Either way, what talent on the floor. Jabbar as a rookie, back when rookies were 22 years old and stars from the outset. And those late ‘60s Lakers were the first super team, with three aging superstars. Alas, they didn’t win the NBA title until 1972, when Baylor was finished. 

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today. 

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