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Why Oklahoma’s Jackson Arnold Is Overrated

Jackson Arnold overrated
© Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Current USC and former Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley led the Sooners to a 24-4 record in his first two seasons in Norman. The current version of the Oklahoma football team is 16-10 in two seasons under coach Brent Venables, including a 10-3 season in 2023. Then the Sooners, led by quarterback Jackson Arnold, stunk up the Alamo Dome in a bowl game loss to Arizona. This is not your daddy’s Oklahoma Sooners football team.

And, the quarterback train has again left Oklahoma: Spencer Rattler, Caleb Williams and now Dillon Gabriel.

Sooners Worst Failure

I find it hard to believe that, in this era of Name, Image and Likeness (NIL), Oklahoma did not have any deep pocket boosters or their NIL collective step forward and offer a princely sum to Gabriel to stay on as the Sooners quarterback. Phil Knight has deep, deep, deep pockets, and the allure of Nike money was enough for Gabriel to take his football and go to his new home in Eugene to play for the Oregon Ducks this season.

This can easily be considered the worst failure in the history of worst failures by the Sooners.

Jackson Arnold overrated

A season ago, Gabriel accounted for more than 4,000 yards of total offense and 42 touchdowns for the Sooners and has 14,865 passing yards, 125 touchdowns and 26 INTs in his collegiate career with the Sooners and the UCF Knights.

Gabriel will certainly be a Heisman Trophy front-runner for the Ducks this season.

Offensive Coordinator Jeff Lebby

Under Lebby, the 2023 Oklahoma offense was humming along like a well-oiled machine. The Sooners offense was ranked in the top 5 in total offense at 507 yards per game, passing offense at 338 yards per game and scoring offense at 41 points per game.

Lebby moved on to take the coaching job at Mississippi State. To fill that huge void in the offensive meeting room, Venables promoted offensive analyst and former North Texas coach Seth Littrell to OC/QB coach.

Former National Pundit Blames Bedlam Loss on the Refs

Tim Bailey, former Executive Vice President of Editorial for College Football Dawgs, wrote an opinion piece in the wake of a 3-point loss by the Sooners to Oklahoma State in the 2023 Bedlam Game. Bailey directed his fury regarding some questionable calls by the zebras in this final rivalry game.

What is conveniently not mentioned in that article is the 3 turnovers (an INT and 2 fumbles lost) committed by Oklahoma that killed scoring drives. Oh, and do not forget the field goal attempt that Oklahoma missed late in the first half. The Sooners were trailing in this game until the 8-minute mark of the third quarter when they scored a 23-yard rushing touchdown to take a 4-point lead and held that lead until the 7:59 mark of the fourth quarter.

Is Jackson Arnold Overrated?

Arnold was rated as a five-star prospect out of Guyer High School in Denton, Texas. Arnold was the No. 8 overall prospect, No. 4 quarterback and the No. 2 prospect in the state of Texas, according to 247Sports Composite.

As a senior at Guyer, Arnold passed for 3,476 yards, 33 touchdowns and 3 INTs. In addition, Arnold rushed for 921 yards and 24 touchdowns. Arnold enrolled early at Oklahoma so he could participate in spring practice.

Bailey sang Arnold’s praises as he exited the high school ranks on his way to the Big 12 Conference.

Arnold played in just seven games for the Sooners in 2023 as a backup to Gabriel. However, he only attempted passes in four of those games with the lone exception being his appearance in a Week 1 73-0 destruction of Arkansas State (11-of-11, 114 yards and a touchdown), Arnold’s completion percentage never got above 60 percent.  

2023 Alamo Bowl vs. Arizona

Once Gabriel decided he was transferring out of Norman, ready or not the quarterback duties for the bowl game against Arizona fell on the true freshman shoulders of Arnold.

And it showed.

Arnold was 26-of-45 passing for 361 yards and 2 touchdowns. On the negative side of the ledger, the Sooners committed 6 turnovers. Of those six miscues, Arnold threw 3 INTs and lost a fumble.

That is not a lot of momentum to build on for the 2024 season.

Competition at Quarterback

Arnold does have some competition, Michael Hawkins Jr. The freshman is a legacy recruit whose father, Michael Hawkins Sr., played for the Sooners in the early part of the new millennium. Hawkins accounted for 3,688 total yards and 52 total touchdowns and was rated a four-star prospect and the No. 20 quarterback in the country according to 247Sports Composite. Hawkins chose the Sooners over TCU, Alabama, Michigan, Penn State, Missouri and SMU.

First Bowl Game Success Stories From a Season Ago

Two other backup quarterbacks last season started bowl games for their respective teams after the starting quarterbacks opted out—Avery Johnson of Kansas State and Miller Moss of USC.

In a 28-19 win against North Carolina State in the Pop-Tarts Bowl, Johnson threw for 178 yards and 2 touchdowns, and added a rushing touchdown.

Moss set a Holiday Bowl record 6 touchdowns in the Trojans' 42-28 win against Louisville. Along with the touchdown record, Moss completed 70 percent of his passes for 372 yards.

The 2024 Season

The powers at the Southeastern Conference scheduling office did not do Oklahoma any favors for their first season in the toughest conference in the country. The Sooners host Tennessee, South Carolina and Alabama. On the road, they face Auburn, Missouri and LSU. And of course, the Red River Rivalry continues against Texas at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

The Sooners' opponents this season were a combined 76-29 in 2023, with five teams appearing in bowl games and two teams making the College Football Playoff.

Oklahoma enters the SEC with a rebuilt, untested offensive line and two new coordinators. Can Arnold quarterback Oklahoma to more than the 7.5 wins the Sooners are projected to produce in year one in the SEC? That appears unlikely. However, it will be one of the many storylines in the SEC in 2024.




1 Comment

Jun 05

You do not have a clue !

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