Surrounded by cameras and microphones, Baker Mayfield gave an impassioned monologue after Oklahoma’s loss to Ohio State in 2016.
The quarterback had just misfired on 15 passes, threw two interceptions and responded by accepting full blame for the Buckeyes pulling away by 21 points.
“We didn’t play very well. Personally, I haven’t played well this season,” Mayfield said. “That game just goes to show I haven’t been the player I was. I’ve been trying to work on it … but that just goes to show that in big games like that, I haven’t played well.
“I let this team down. Coach [Bob] Stoops can beat around the bush, but I let this team down by my performance.
"I got to go out there and perform. That's all on me at this point. I know that the work that I'm going to have to put in — we haven't played a Big 12 game yet — I'm going to work harder than anybody in this program. I'm going to work harder, I'm going to try and do it harder than anybody coach Stoops has ever seen. I'm going to push and we're going to go win a Big 12 title."
It would go down as one of Mayfield’s signature college moments, and he ultimately kept his word. The Sooners won the Big 12 and the Sugar Bowl.
Fast forward to this fall and OU quarterback Kyler Murray accepted full responsibility for a different setback — a defensive collapse in which he deserved little blame — and did so using about half the words Mayfield did.
Aside from bemoaning his two turnovers, Murray wasn't too talkative at the Cotton Bowl after the Sooners’ 48-45 loss to Texas. He didn't say much more in the locker room or during the bus ride home.
“I probably said about six words,” Murray said.
Ninth-ranked OU (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) is saddled with another loss by mid-October, just as it has been the last three seasons. One difference is there’s no Mayfield.
The Sooners’ quest for a fourth consecutive Big 12 title continues with a quieter leader behind center in Murray, whose production to start this year has been as good as any quarterback in the nation outside Alabama sophomore sensation Tua Tagovailoa.
Murray won’t talk like Mayfield — but can he finish like him?
Responsibility rests with OU’s defensive improvement after a slumping first half of the season, which resulted in the removal of coordinator Mike Stoops, but that won’t take the focus off Murray.
It never did for Mayfield, who thrived after losses during his three seasons in Norman. During the Sooners’ final eight games in 2015, final 10 in 2016 and final eight in 2017, he averaged 28 passing TDs, five interceptions and a 70 percent completion percentage down the stretch.
OU coach Lincoln Riley thinks Murray’s already on his way.
The quarterback led a spirited rally against Texas, overcoming a 21-point deficit in the final minutes, which included his 67-yard touchdown run that became the Sooners’ most memorable play this season.
“What I saw the second half of that Texas game, the fourth quarter in particular, was a pretty good response,” Riley said. “He’s going to continue to grow. He’s still, in so many ways, young and inexperienced and is still learning but obviously doing so many things well too.”
Murray will do this his way, which figures to be less demonstrative than Mayfield.
So far, neither Murray nor his teammates have noted much difference in his vocal leadership the past two weeks.
He practiced with OU in 2016, but sat out due to NCAA rules following a transfer from Texas A&M. Murray remembers Mayfield giving a speech after the Ohio State game, but doesn’t recall the words.
Giving impassioned sermons doesn’t fit Murray’s low-key personality. He won’t talk his way out of this.
But he could play his way out.