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Oklahoma Sooners Football Hot Links: OU’s defensive improvement, the status of Grant Calcaterra, and more

Grant Calcaterra won’t play this week, but they’re aiming to have him back for the Iowa State game.

NCAA Football: South Dakota at Oklahoma Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Thursday, friends and fans!

On Wednesday, the Oklahoma Sooners’ Lincoln Riley was named to the Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant Coach of the Year Watch List.

Riley has kept his offense from taking a dip in 2019 after having to replace the likes of Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray, Marquise Brown, and four starting offensive linemen. Furthermore, the staff changes he orchestrated have completely altered the dynamic of this team and the culture of this program from a defensive standpoint.

The Bryant Award has been in circulation since 1986, and since its inception, the only OU coach to bring it home was Bob Stoops during the Sooners’ national championship run of 2000. What’s also interesting is that Nick Saban, who is widely regarded as the current standard of the coaching game, has never received this honor during his tenure in Tuscaloosa (although it’s tough to win an award of this nature when perched atop the mountain).

If Oklahoma continues to play the part as one of college football’s most complete and dominant teams over the next seven weeks, it might finally be time for Lincoln Riley to be in serious contention of this honor come awards season.

Now let’s get into today’s Hot Links! Lincoln Riley hopes Grant Calcaterra can return for the Iowa State contest, the OU student section now sits closer to the action at b-ball games, half a hundred isn’t enough for Kyrie and more!

OU Links

  • The West Virginia edition of Caleb’s Clicker has dropped, and this time Caleb Kelly highlights the OU defensive backs in pass coverage. The Mountaineers had a tough time finding space in the passing game, and the Sooner DBs were obviously a big reason for it.
  • Speaking of Oklahoma’s defense, check out this side-by-side comparison of the 2018 and 2019 seasons through seven games. Judging by how the product on the field looks, you can tell a major difference has been made, but the numbers really give context to this improvement.
  • TE Grant Calcaterra has missed the last two games and is expected to be held out for a third this weekend. Official word on the type of injury the junior has sustained has not been officially disclosed.
  • Mike Stoops did not leave Oklahoma on the best of terms last fall, but his recruiting efforts in the state of Florida — particularly at high school powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas — led to the Sooners landing the services of talented youngsters like Nik Bonitto and Jaden Davis.
  • Kyler Murray is already turning the Arizona Cardinals offense around with his elite ability as a dual-threat quarterback, but what makes him especially unique compared to most other rookie signal callers is his capacity for reading defenses and making checks without relying on the eyes of his coaches. Next-level stuff for a next-level talent.
  • The student section inside the Lloyd Noble Center has been revamped to enhance the experience for both the fans as well as the game itself.

Around the Sports World

  • The Philadelphia Phillies have hired former New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi to the same position. There are a lot of talented and experienced pieces falling into place with this club, but only time will tell if it’ll finally get back over the hump.
  • Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving made his regular season debut with his new team in a big way by scoring 50 against the Minnesota Timberwolves, but that simply wasn’t enough to get the job done as the T-Wolves won in OT, 127-126.

Stick to Sports!

  • The world’s largest treehouse is no more after burning to the ground earlier this week. The Crossville, Tenn. marvel stood tall for over 20 years, and for the majority of that time was a heavily-trafficked tourist attraction. The cause of the fire is undetermined at this point, but reportedly no one was injured. It’s sad news for a lot of folks, but hey, now all the other top 25 treehouses can move up in the rankings.

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