The start of spring practice kicks off this Saturday for the Oklahoma Sooners, and head coach Lincoln Riley met with the media on Thursday to preview what’s to come. This will be Riley’s first spring as a head coach, and he certainly seemed upbeat.
Riley on the Spring Game
There has been quite the buzz coming out of the football department regarding some big things in store for the spring game next month. Riley didn’t enlighten the press on any of the juicy details, but he did reiterate what we’ve been hearing for the past several weeks.
What's going to draw 80,000 to OU's spring game?— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) March 8, 2018
Lincoln Riley still won't say. But says that nearly everything will be tweaked and they'll make the big surprise public soon. Game is April 14.
“Very excited about the Spring Game. We’ve been knee-deep in the planning phases the last several weeks. I think we’re close to making public some of the plans that we have for our Spring Game, but not quite ready yet. We’ve got some really cool things that our fan base is going to be excited about. There’s going to be some definite changes to just about every part of the Spring Game that I think are going to make it even better. [...] We’ve been working hard behind the scenes to create something that everybody is going to be really proud and excited about, and I’m very confident that our fans, Sooner Nation, will respond the way that we know they will.”
Riley on players who will miss the spring
Riley informed the press that early-enrollee cornerback Starrland Baldwin Jr. will miss spring ball to recover from an injury he arrived with, receiver Mykel Jones and linebacker Caleb Kelly are both recovering from off-season shoulder surgeries, and receiver Nick Basquine is recovering from a second torn Achilles. All players are expected to be ready to go in the fall, barring any setbacks.
Riley also gave updates on offensive lineman Alex Dalton and cornerback Jordan Parker, stating both “will be limited during spring.” Both players are coming off knee injuries suffered early last fall, and figure to be in the rotation for their respective positions once they fully recover.
Riley also gave an update on redshirt freshman linebacker Levi Draper. Draper suffered a shoulder injury last fall before the season, but figures to compete for the weak side linebacker spot.
Riley says Levi Draper has put on some weight, speed is back from the surgery. Says he getting a lot of work at Will linebacker.— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) March 8, 2018
Riley on how much baseball will impact Kyler Murray
Kyler Murray is in line to take over the starting quarterback job for Oklahoma this fall, but is also making a name for himself on the baseball diamond. As the level of competition increases, the difficulty of playing two sports increases immensely, even for an athlete as gifted as Murray is. Coach Riley was asked about how playing both sports at this time of year will affect Murray’s football development.
“Actually, not much. [...] After going through this last year, we have a better sense of the schedule, what we can do to help Kyler.”
Lincoln Riey says Kyler Murray is not going to miss any spring practices and only one baseball game. #Sooners— Eric Bailey (@EricBaileyTW) March 8, 2018
Coach also talked about how there’s not as many differences in the strength and conditioning aspect between baseball players and quarterbacks as some might believe. Also, the timing and the schedule of the spring practices really works in Murray’s favor, since he will only have to miss one baseball game, although there will be some days when Kyler practices with the football team in the morning and then follows it up with a baseball game later in the day.
Riley on moving Ryan Jones from WR to DB to LB
Ryan Jones originally signed with Oklahoma as a receiver, but after redshirting last season, he was switched to safety. Now it appears he’s outgrowing the position, and the coaches are going to give him a look at linebacker.
“He’s got a unique ability. He’s kind of made the move from first receiver to a safety to an outside linebacker. [...] He’s still got a long ways to go, a lot of maturing, a lot of growing as a player both on and off the field, but there’s some potential there. I know Mike (Stoops), all of us want to get a really good look at him this spring, because you see some things that say you know what, he can maybe be a difference maker here in the future.”
Asked Riley about Ryan Jones. Moves from WR to DB now to OLB, but maybe can make impact for #Sooners? 'Any time a guy with that athleticism can get big enough, it's intriguing.'— Bob Przybylo (@BPrzybylo) March 8, 2018
Riley on Orlando Brown’s poor NFL Combine showing
Last week, Orlando Brown was a headlining topic coming out of the NFL Combine for all the wrong reasons. After turning in one of the more disappointing results of any player, regardless of position, there are risings concerns that Brown’s poor showing will affect his draft stock drastically. Coach Riley was asked about Orlando’s combine results.
“The thing with Orlando, would I have expected he test a little bit better than he did? Yes, and I think he will here next Wednesday. With that being said, Orlando’s never going to be a great test guy. [...] What that guy’s gifted at is playing tackle, and playing football.”
“Orlando’s never going to be a great test guy. What that guy is gifted at is playing tackle.” - Riley. “That (game) tape doesn’t go away.”— SoonerScoop.com (@SoonerScoop) March 8, 2018
While we’re on the topic of the offensive line, Coach Riley also spoke about the battle for the starting center position. Redshirt senior Jonathan Alvarez and highly touted redshirt freshman Creed Humphrey will use this spring to try to separate themselves from each other, but in the end, Oklahoma should have two great options in the middle of the o-line.
Riley expects a good battle between Alvarez and Humphrey at center. "Not many people have one good center. We've got 2." #Sooners— Eric Bailey (@EricBaileyTW) March 8, 2018
That’s it for the presser notes. If you want to know more about what was discussed, you can watch Lincoln Riley’s spring presser in its entirety here, provided by OU.
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