Sooners see similarities between Deshaun Watson, Trevone Boykin

ByJake Trotter ESPN logo
Sunday, December 27, 2015

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- When the Oklahoma Sooners watch film of Clemson Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson as they prepare for the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl, they see a resemblance to a past foe.

TCU Horned Frogs quarterback Trevone Boykin.

"You've got to keep him contained," Oklahoma linebacker Dominique Alexander said of Watson, who finished third in the Heisman voting after throwing for more than 3,500 yards and rushing for almost 900 yards.

"He's one of the top players in the country. He played for an undefeated team this year. To keep him contained, everybody has got to do their job. We've got to make more plays on him than he does on us."

That will be a monumental challenge for the Sooners, who finished out the season with Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State all starting backup quarterbacks against OU.

Playing in the high-powered Big 12, however, the Sooners have faced their share of prolific quarterbacks. And when asked Sunday to come up with a comparison for Watson, Boykin was the name invoked the most by the Sooners, even though the TCU quarterback sat out this season's game against Oklahoma with an ankle injury.

"We didn't face [Boykin] this year," Alexander said, "but the guys we have on our defense, we all played [last year]. So we've seen [a quarterback] like that."

While studying Watson, however, the Sooners' defenders also were reminded of their own mobile quarterback, Baker Mayfield, who finished one spot behind Watson in the Heisman voting.

"He has a lot of Baker in him," defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. "We've got to make sure whatever we're doing, we can account for him."

Mayfield has almost 500 fewer rushing yards than Watson. But like Watson, Mayfield has shared a penchant for producing big plays outside the pocket when it has broken down.

"Anytime you have a guy who can run and pass, it makes it tough," Alexander said. "You look at our quarterback, Baker, that's what makes him so dangerous because you can't keep him in the pocket. If he gets out of the pocket, he can extend the play so much that he can just make a big play happen, and that's what he's able to do with his feet and his arm."

To help prepare, the Sooners have had backup Trevor Knight, who defeated Alabama in the Sugar Bowl two years ago with a sterling dual-threat performance, mimicking Watson in practice on the scout team.

"Trevor is mobile and he can run and he's a great athlete," Alexander said of Knight, who has indicated he could transfer elsewhere after the playoffs. "Seeing a guy like Baker being mobile like that and then being able to have a guy like Trevor, practicing against him, being mobile like that, that's something great to see every day, as well."

As good as Watson has been with his speed, Oklahoma cornerback Zack Sanchez still called Boykin the best athlete the Sooners have seen and "will probably see." But he admitted he's impressed with how Watson sets the tone for the Tigers.

"He brings the spark to their offense that Blake brings to ours," Sanchez said. "He's a guy that's really made a difference."