Lincoln Riley did not mince words when asked how Saturday night and Sunday went following his first career loss as a head coach, “It sucked.” Those two words pretty well summed up Saturday’s 38-31 home loss to Iowa State. The Oklahoma Sooners have no time to lay around licking their wounds as they prepare to take on the Texas Longhorns in the 2017 edition of the Red River Shootout.
The Longhorns look much improved from previous years, and their 2-0 start in Big 12 play has been matched only by TCU. Texas head coach Tom Herman has not named a starter for Saturday yet, but every indication seems to point to true freshman Sam Ehlinger getting the nod at quarterback. That would mean that both starting quarterbacks in this game would be Austin natives, but Baker Mayfield was quick to point out one key difference in their respective high school careers.
Baker Mayfield, on fellow Austin native/Texas QB Sam Ehlinger: "He went to Westlake and he’s never beaten Lake Travis,” Mayfield’s HS.— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) October 9, 2017
It’s OU-Texas week, and that means nothing is off limits when it comes to trash talk. This will be both Riley and Herman’s first trip to the Cotton Bowl as a head coach. It will also be Riley’s first game coming off a loss in his young career. He addressed the challenges that go along with that and much more in Monday’s press conference.
Riley on OU’s injury situation
The Sooners lost two key offensive weapons, Abdul Adams and CeeDee Lamb, in the first half against Iowa State. The extent of both injuries were unknown after the game, but Riley seemed to indicate that neither were too serious. He said that he isn’t ruling either player out for Saturday yet and indicated that decisions on both Adams and Lamb would be made later in the week.
Riley on his team playing down to the level of their opponents the last two weeks
This was the second consecutive game in which OU ended up in a dog fight against teams that, at least on paper, they should have easily beaten. OU escaped a near upset against Baylor two weeks ago, but their luck ran out against Iowa State on Saturday. The Sooners opened as a 7.5-point favorite against Texas on Saturday, but Riley wants to be sure his players don’t make the same mistake they have the past two weeks.
“Our expectations can’t be relative to the team we’re playing, regardless of what we think of them or, more importantly, really what the outside world tells us about them. Our expectations have got to be based on us playing at our very best level. Our expectations are so high that when something doesn’t go our way, we haven’t handled it that well, and that falls back on me.”
Riley on kicker Austin Seibert’s struggles this year
Seibert hasn’t gotten many opportunities to prove himself this year, but he has not performed particularly well when he has been called upon. He is currently 2/4 on field goal attempts this season, and he has not converted from beyond 40 yards since 2015. His lackluster performances prompted one reporter to ask Riley if he was considering a change at that position.
“Yeah, we’ve looked at it. We’ve given Austin some opportunities in games. Honestly this year it just kind of hasn’t worked out, he hasn’t had as many as we would’ve liked him to have had.” Riley pointed out that Seibert’s problems this season are different from his issues a year ago. “Several of those (misses) last year weren’t even close. They just didn’t look like him. Even the one the other day, he’s really hitting the ball well, and he’s done really well in practice. I’m still pretty confident in Austin Seibert. He’s a really, really good kicker.”
Riley on OU’s pass rush (or lack thereof)
I wrote last week that the key to stopping Iowa State’s offense was to get more pressure on the quarterback. Mike Stoops obviously does not read Crimson And Cream Machine dot com or Saturday’s outcome would have looked drastically different. OU only rushed three for the majority of the game, and as a result allowed 368 passing yards, most of which came from third-string quarterback Kyle Kempt. Riley, however, did not place the blame squarely on the pass rush.
“I actually think we’re making strides there. If you look at a lot of throws from the other day, it’s a lot of ‘I’m taking my first read and getting the ball out of my hands right now’ which is what they did. Against a quick passing game, you’re not going to get there all the time. The thing that I would like to see is we need to get our hands up and get more tipped balls. That was something we got quite a few of the last few years.”
Full press conference links:
Okoronkwo: “There’s nothing wrong schematically with what we’re doing.” #Sooners— Ryan Aber (@ryaber) October 9, 2017
Orlando Brown on Texas: They have a very good front. They have a lot players that have been dominant.— John Shinn (@john_shinn) October 9, 2017
Credit Baker Mayfield. He has every Texas writer looking up the history of the Lake Travis-Austin Westlake series.— Chuck Carlton (@ChuckCarltonDMN) October 9, 2017