Tre Mann already had committed the unpardonable sin of calling both Jalen Williams and Jaylin Williams “J-Will.”
That was in the days just after the NBA Draft, when Sam Presti played mind games with every basketball fan on Earth by selecting players with the same name.
Mann quickly was corrected by Jalen Williams, the Santa Clara Williams. “I’m J-Dub.”
“I'm not going to lie, it was kind of tough at first,” Mann said.
But Mann decided to push his luck on Thunder Media Day.
Gathered with some of his fellow Thunder players on Monday at Paycom Center, Mann offered a new suggestion on how to differentiate between Santa Clara Williams and Arkansas Williams.
“I was like, how about if I call you Will J,” he said to Santa Clara Williams. At least I think it was Santa Clara Williams. This can get confusing. “And him (Arkansas Williams) J-Will? And he’s (Santa Clara) like, ‘no, because it sounds like Little J.’ I'm like, ‘OK, I'll call him Big J and you Little J, and he was getting mad.”
Mann has relented.
“Now I know both of their names,” Mann said. “It's J-Dub and J-Will. It's easy now.”
Easy for him, maybe, and all the people who are around both every day. But for the rest of us, who will mostly see Jalen Williams and Jaylin Williams only on game nights this coming season, this is going to be wild.
J-Dub is from Santa Clara, 6-foot-6, darker skinned. J-Will is from Arkansas, 6-foot-10, lighter skinned.
The latter is how Darius Bazley figured it all out.
“Dub is the darker one and J is the lighter one,” Bazley told the media. “That's how I view it. I can't do like numbers … it's just Dub and then there's J.
“I hope you guys know who I'm talking about, too.”
I’m sticking with Santa Clara Williams and Arkansas Williams. Maybe this J-Dub and J-Will stuff will catch on – the pressure is on you, Chris Fisher and Michael Cage, to acclimate Oklahomans on Thunder telecasts – but for now, Santa Clara and Arkansas is the way to go.
“I thought it was funny, man,” Thunder wing Aaron Wiggins said of the rookies’ names. “When I first met them, at the time everybody was kind of figuring out how we'd be able to distinctly know which guy we were talking about.
“I had gotten their phone numbers before I met them in person, and I actually had one of their names as Santa Clara and the other one as Jaylin Williams. That's a very distinct way of knowing which one I'm texting at least.”
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Most Thunder players say they’ve got the nicknames down pat. Most. Not all.
“I definitely have to figure that out,” said veteran center Derrick Favors. “They're going to have to get nicknames or something.”
Hey, somebody’s got to be the last to know.
The two Williamses have been on point about what they should be called.
“Yeah, they were pretty adamant about who's who and what we're going to call them,” said Lindy Waters III. “I haven't had any trouble.”
Arkansas Williams – who is from Fort Smith and played for the Razorbacks – said he and Santa Clara Williams huddled soon after their draft fate was official.
“For sure,” Arkansas Williams said. “It was like within the first hour or two of us getting here, we decided on what we were being called. It worked out perfectly.
“I got called J-Will by my family and friends, and he got called Dub by his family and friends, so it just worked out. It just makes it easy, and the team all got it down. So we're good right now.”
After the Thunder drafted Santa Clara Williams 12th overall in June, Mark Daigneault figured the name clash was coming. The Thunder coach knew that Presti was high on Arkansas Williams.
“I had a pretty good feeling they were going to draft the second one,” Daigneault said. “They loved Jaylin Williams in the process early, from Arkansas.”
Daigneault even has a plan for the heat of game nights.
“We'll figure it out,” he said. “I'm big on eye contact when I call them (players) in the game. There's some guys I turn and look at them and they know what that means, so it might turn into that.”
Or it could turn into chaos. There’s always the chance Thunder staple Kenrich Williams could change his name to Jalon.
“It would be fun,” said TCU Williams.
So settle in, buckle up and get ready for a basketball season in which winning games is going to be no more difficult than remember which one is Jalen and which one is Jaylin, which one is J-Dub and which one is J-Will, which is Santa Clara and which one is Arkansas.
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Oklahoma State gets second crack at Blake Shapen
OSU saw the best – and maybe the worst – of Baylor quarterbacking last season.
OSU beat Baylor 24-14 last Oct. 2, with Bohanon completing just 13 of 27 passes for 173 yards, no interceptions, no touchdowns. That was typical Bohanon; not much production, but few mistakes. Bohanon didn’t throw an interception until Baylor’s seventh game of the season.
Bohanon beat OU 27-14 in a November showdown by completing 12 of 21 passes for 117 yards. Then he suffered a hamstring injury the next week and eventually gave way to his backup, Shapen, in the Big 12 Championship Game.
Shapen was sharp against the Cowboys, completing 23 of 28 for 180 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Not explosive, but efficient.
And that’s what Mike Gundy expects Saturday, when the ninth-ranked Cowboys play at No. 16 Baylor.
“Their concept offensively, from an outside looking in, is the same as it was in the championship game,” Gundy said. “So, you’re gonna control the passing game.
“I mean, he might complete 14 passes in the game, and it may only be for 75 yards, but three or four of them might be converting third downs. So I don’t really see a lot of difference, and it looks like they programmed him in that direction until they play-action, max-protect and try to throw it over your head.”
Baylor was a run-heavy offense last season. Abram Smith rushed for 1,601 yards and averaged a robust 6.2 yards per carry. Trestan Ebner ran for 799 yards and averaged 5.4 yards per rush.
In the Bohanon game, Smith gained 97 yards on 10 carries, but Ebner was held to zero yards on eight carries. In the Shapen game, Smith gained 63 yards on 17 carries, and Ebner gained just 17 yards on five carries.
This season, tailbacks Richard Reese, Craig Williams and Qualon Jones have combined for 629 yards on 118 carries, a 5.3 average.
“It’s a good matchup,” Gundy said of OSU’s defensive line against Baylor’s offensive line. “Both pretty good groups … in my opinion, they stay in their box on what they’re trying to get accomplished on offense.
“They have good players. Baylor’s always had good players. They sit right in the middle of 300 Division-I offers a year within a four-hour drive. It’s a good location to get good players. And they’ve developed them, and they know what they want to get accomplished.
Last week, in Baylor’s 31-24 victory at Iowa State, Shapen had a game very much like his Big 12 title performance – he completed 19 of 26 passes, 238 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
But the Bears were slow to rely on Shapen at Brigham Young on Sept. 10. He completed 18 of 28 passes for 138 yards.
Baylor took possession with 5½ minutes left in the game, tied 20-20, and didn’t call a pass on a seven-play drive that ended with a punt.
In the first overtime, Shapen’s only pass was a three-yard completion to Jones, on third-and-13. Baylor settled for a field-goal attempt.
In the second overtime, the Bears ran 11 plays. Three were passes – a third-and-3 incompletion (Baylor ran Williams on fourth-and-3), a three-yard completion to Jones on third-and-goal from the BYU 9-yard line, and an incompletion on fourth-and-goal from the BYU 11-yard line.
With Shapen, the Bears’ coaching staff appears to be content to rely on defense and the running game to win. And win is exactly what Baylor did the last time these programs met.
College football down to 21 unbeatens
October arrives Saturday, and only 20 major-college football teams will leave September undefeated.
Twenty-one squads are unbeaten, but 4-0 UCLA and 4-0 Washington meet Friday night in the Rose Bowl, so one is guaranteed a defeat by the time October hits on the West Coast.
The 2022 season has whittled the unbeaten ranks more quickly than usual. A year ago, 26 teams made it to October unscathed.
The reasons? Slightly tougher schedules, though that’s a slow climb. The fall of mid-major uprisings – only James Madison and Coastal Carolina remain unbeaten among teams outside the Power Five conferences. And perhaps the transfer portal has created parity by helping rebuild more rosters than maybe we figured.
Nineteen Power Five teams are unbeaten:
Big 12: OSU, Texas Christian, Kansas.
Southeastern: Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Kentucky.
Atlantic Coast: Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina State, Syracuse.
Big Ten: Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Minnesota.
Pac-12: Southern Cal, Washington, UCLA.
We are guaranteed to be down to no more than 18 by Sunday, since UCLA-Washington is joined by Kentucky-Ole Miss and North Carolina State-Clemson as battles of unbeatens.
Too early to tell if the shortage of unbeatens this early in the season means a shortage of one-loss teams come December. But it’s certainly feasible that 2022 could bring the first two-loss team in the eight-year history of the College Football Playoff.
Let’s get to the rankings, and remember, I judge teams not on what I think they will do, but what they have done. Who did you play? Where did you play? How did you do?
1. Georgia 4-0: The Bulldogs’ Week 1 49-3 rout of Oregon in Atlanta keeps getting more and more impressive, with the Ducks’ rise.
2. Oregon 3-1: Why are the Ducks No. 2? Who else has two victories as impressive as beating Brigham Young soundly and rallying to win at Washington State, which was coming off a win at Wisconsin?
3. Tennessee 4-0: The Volunteers’ victory over Florida might not have staying power – the Gators seem to have peaked on opening night against Utah – but the win at Pittsburgh keeps looking solid.
4. Clemson 4-0: Winning at Wake Forest in double overtime looks like a good win.
5. Brigham Young 3-1: The Cougars beat Baylor, and the win over Wyoming seems to be decent.
6. Southern Cal 4-0: The Trojans have kept winning even after getting through the Academic Bowl portion of their schedule (Rice, Stanford). The survival at Oregon State was impressive.
7. North Carolina State 4-0: The Wolfpack’s victory over Texas Tech looks a lot better since the Red Raiders beat Texas.
8. Kansas 4-0: Nothing outstanding among KU’s conquered, but West Virginia, Houston and Duke all are either Power Five teams or will be next season.
9. James Madison 3-0: Don’t laugh. The Dukes won at Appalachian State, and don’t forget JMU’s season-opening, 44-7 rout of Middle Tennessee. That’s the Blue Raiders’ only loss, and Middle Tennessee whacked Miami 45-31 Saturday.
10. Kentucky 4-0: The Wildcats could be slipping from the top 10 if their win at Florida remains their best victory, but for now, UK still holds on.
The List: Dallas Cowboy backup QBs
Cooper Rush quarterbacked the Cowboys to a 23-16 victory over the New York football Giants on Monday night, and Rush now is 2-0 this season, 3-0 all-time, starting in place of the injured Dak Prescott.
Here are the records for the Cowboys’ all-time backup quarterbacks forced into a starting role:
1. Jason Garrett 6-3: Garrett relieved Troy Aikman across four seasons. 1993, 1994, 1998, 1999.
2. Andy Dalton 4-5: Dalton filled in for Prescott in 2020 and did a solid job.
2. Jon Kitna 4-5: The original Dalton, having started several seasons in Cincinnati. Kitna filled in for the injured Tony Romo in 2010.
4. Cooper Rush 3-0: Rush likely will move up this list. Hurry back, Prescott.
5. Roger Staubach 3-1: Yep, Staubach backed up Craig Morton during the 1969 and 1970 seasons before a couple of years in which they alternated.
6. Craig Morton 3-2: Morton backed up Don Meredith from 1965-68.
7. Steve Pelleur 3-6: Pelleur eventually was given the job over Danny White, but in 1986, Pelleur replaced the injured White.
8. Glenn Carano 1-0: Filled in for Danny White in a 1981 game.
8. Danny White 1-0: Roger Staubach’s backup in 1978 and became the starter in 1980, after Staubach’s retirement.
8. Clint Longley 1-0: This victory was not Longley’s 1975 Thanksgiving heroics, when he came off the bench to rally Dallas after a Staubach injury. This was the ‘75 season finale.
8. Stephen McGee 1-0, 2010: Started the season finale.
8. Drew Henson 1-0: Former baseball player filled in for Vinny Testaverde in a 2004 game.
8. Rodney Peete 1-0: Aikman’s backup in 1994.
8. Steve Beurlein 1-0: Aikman’s backup in 1991.
15. Clint Stoerner 1-1: One of three backups who started at least two games in the crazy year of 2001, when Quincy Carter was the starter.
16. Randall Cunningham 1-2: Troy Aikman’s last backup, in 2000.
16. Brad Johnson 1-2: Super Bowl winner filled in for Romo in 2008.
16. Jerry Rhome 1-2: The former Tulsa U. quarterback started games in 1965 and 1966, sharing backup duties with Craig Morton.
19. Steve Walsh 1-4: Aikman’s original backup, in 1989.
19. Anthony Wright 1-4: Started in both 2000 and 2001.
21. Matt Cassel 1-5: One of three backups to start for the injured Tony Romo in 2015. The other two? Brandon Weeden and Kellen Moore.
22. Kyle Orton 0-1: Started in 2013 in place of Romo.
22. Wade Wilson 0-1: Old pro who filled in for Aikman.
22. Babe Laufenberg 0-1: 1990 placeholder for Aikman who turned that gig into a long-time spot on the Cowboys’ radio broadcasts.
25. Bernie Kosar 0-1: A 1993 backup after a long career as the Browns’ franchise QB.
26. Kellen Moore 0-2: Turned that ‘15 chance into a spot on the Dallas coaching staff.
26. Gary Hogeboom 0-2: The people’s choice. Cowboy fans were forever wanting Hogeboom to replace White, and Hogeboom did on occasion. But these 1985 games were due to injury.
26. Don Meredith 0-2: Relieved the injured Eddie LeBaron in 1960 and 1961 before eventually winning the job.
29. Ryan Leaf 0-3: Yes, Ryan Leaf. In 2001.
30. Brandon Weeden 0-4: Former OSU Cowboy got four starters over 2014-15.
30. John Roach 0-4, 1964: Came out of retirement to fill in for Meredith.
Tramel's ScissorTales: Kansas still ranks No. 1 in Big 12 football power rankings
Mailbag: Kansas State impressive
OU’s 41-34 loss to Kansas State has some fans rationalizing the verdict.
Ben: “I think we just saw the best quarterback and running back we will see all year. Hope so anyway. The passing accuracy, and a 170-pound running back moving a pile of three or four 300-pound linemen was very impressive.”
Tramel: Best tailback? Absolutely. Best quarterback? No way.
I said on the Sports Animal’s pregame show Saturday that Deuce Vaughn is the Big 12’s best tailback. I immediately got counters of Texas’ Bijan Robinson.
Not everything I say works out so well. A few minutes later, Robinson fumbled in overtime and Texas lost to Texas Tech. Then Vaughn ran roughshod over the Sooners (116 yards, 25 carries).
Robinson is a great player and headed for the National Football League. But Vaughn is the better college football player. Shifty and strong and durable.
But at quarterback, Adrian Martinez is nowhere close to the Big 12’s best. It’s possible the Sooners don’t see better quarterback play all season, because Martinez was fabulous in producing almost 400 total yards.
But there are better QBs. Spencer Sanders. J.T. Daniels. Jalon Daniels. Maybe Quinn Ewers, though we need to see more. Heck, Max Duggan has played better throughout his career and this season, compared with Martinez.
That’s the scary thing about K-State's win. The OU defense was back to its old tricks of making a star out of a quarterback who hadn’t done much.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: OKC Thunder: Get ready to ID rookies Jalen Williams, Jaylin Williams