Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray is not a large man. Oklahoma has him listed as a generous 5’10” and 195 pounds.
Murray’s size presents a bit of an issue when he runs, and he runs around a lot. He’s got plenty of opportunities to get crushed by menacing defenders looking to put a hurting on him.
Murray’s cat-like quickness will keep him out of plenty of trouble by itself. He’s a very elusive runner, and you rarely see a defender get a clean shot at him.
“Most people aren’t trying to take big shots. If they do, it’s probably about a 99 percent chance you’re gonna miss,” [Oklahoma coach Lincoln] Riley said. “Not that I’m saying he’s Barry Sanders, I’m not. But it’s kinda like that. Barry Sanders never took big hits because he was quicker and faster than everybody else on the field. It’s in that same category of, his quickness is so good and he’s so dangerous because he has top-end (speed) that people want to make sure and kinda corral him.”
Just take a look at this run:
What Murray did at the end is perhaps the most noteworthy part.
The more Murray does something simple like that — just slipping out of bounds when he’s gotten what he needs to get — the more he will save himself to fight another play and lessen the chance of injury.
That may seem like a simple concept, as mobile quarterbacks are at times glorified running backs, but teams don’t want them to be hit like running backs. It takes some aggressive QBs a while to realize that.
Take your pick of a mobile quarterback, and you can probably find a story about coaches hand-wringing about their inability to slide.
The concern about the 6-foot, 215-pound Vick is that his reckless running style will lead to a debilitating injury.
“A few weeks ago we brought out a coach from the Atlanta Braves [former big league infielder Terry Pendleton] to teach Mike how to slide,” says Falcons owner Arthur Blank, who bought the team last February. “I want him to lead our franchise for years and years, and he has to learn how to protect himself.”
But no pro baseball player had to teach Murray to slide, because he already is a pro baseball player — drafted by the Oakland A’s over the summer.
He showed off the ability back when he was at Texas A&M.
His coach at time, Kevin Sulmin, said that it’s not something the Aggies taught him.
“We don’t have to have slide drills here,” coach Kevin Sumlin said, smiling. “He’s also a great baseball player, so he knows how to slide.”
But he’s pretty creative about it too, as he showed against UCLA.
All sorts of different slides.
Being great at sliding can’t prevent all injuries, of course.
This play from his freshman season knocked him out of an eventual loss against Auburn ...
... and Murray slid into second base and “felt a twinge” back in May, 2018 for the Sooners baseball team. While both were minor injuries, it’s a reminder that Murray can’t take all the risk out of his game by sliding, but he can sure limit it.
This is one way Murray’s baseball skills both enhance his football game — by keeping him healthier — and help preserve his actual pro career.
Murray’s already been paid a lot of money by a professional baseball team, and making a business decision by stepping out of bounds or sliding when he can are pragmatic ways to protect Oakland’s investment. It’s also a pretty good way to ensure Oklahoma keeps its Playoff hopes within reach, too.