The No. 6 Oklahoma Sooners took care of business in Kansas over the weekend, and now we enter the week that’s been circled on our calendars since the schedule was released. This Saturday at 11 a.m. CT in the historic Cotton Bowl, OU will face off against the Texas Longhorns for the 115th overall meeting of this storied rivalry series.
On Monday, three of Oklahoma’s team captains met with the media to address questions ahead of the Texas game, including senior QB Jalen Hurts. For the first time this season, the Heisman Trophy candidate opened his presser period with a statement before fielding questions. Here’s what he said.
“Look, I’m just going to say the culture here at Oklahoma right now is all centered on us playing to our standard and us playing our brand of football. We try and go out there and have the right mental intensity, right effort, right approach to attention to detail and discipline to do our jobs. I think, looking back at this last game we played in, there’s a lot of opportunity and room for growth and maturity. A lot of lessons that we can learn from, and we will learn from it. So I think the biggest thing as we continue to go on and move forward is keeping the main thing the main thing and attacking every day and improving every day.”
The first half of the Sooners’ game against Kansas was easily the sloppiest half of football Oklahoma has played all season, and that’s likely what Hurts is referring to when he talks about this team having room for growth. Considering who the next opponent is, there can’t be a repeat of that performance if OU plans to walk out of Dallas with the Golden Hat in hand.
Lincoln Riley also caught up with the media for his weekly press conference. He was asked about his team’s progress in addition to several questions about Oklahoma vs. Texas.
Riley on Erik Swenson and Adrian Ealy’s status
Oklahoma starting left and right tackles Erik Swenson and Adrian Ealy were both sidelined last Saturday against Kansas, and it showed in the first half’s offensive struggles. Riley was asked about the status of the O-line’s bookends going into the Red River Showdown.
“Swenson and Ealy, I would say both highly questionable for this game probably at best. We’ll see how they progress here through the week. I don’t see either one of those guys out extremely long term, but they’re dealing with a little bit more than a bump or a scratch, too.”
Riley on Jalen Hurts’ big game experience
Although this next game will be Jalen Hurts’ first trip to the Cotton Bowl, it certainly won’t be his first rodeo. The former Alabama QB has played in a number of big games throughout his collegiate career, including high-stakes rivalry games like the Iron Bowl. Riley was asked about his quarterback’s experience in games of this magnitude and discussed how that could help him on Saturday.
“Sure, he’s been in a lot of four quarter games, a lot of big games against good opponents, a lot of rowdy venues. I don’t think it affects him much. He’s pretty much the same guy if he’s going out for a Monday walkthrough as he will be going into the Cotton Bowl, honestly.”
Riley on players throwing the horns down
During Big 12 Media Days, it was made known that players who display the horns down gesture on the field with the intent of bringing attention to themselves will be flagged for an unsportsmanlike penalty. In regards to that, Riley was asked about what his message will be to his team going into this game.
“Our players won’t do it. Our players won’t do it. Just like the Big 12 (Championship) game.”
Riley on playing four straight 11 a.m. games
On Monday, it was announced that Oklahoma’s game against West Virginia on Oct. 19 will kick off at 11 a.m. CT, making it four consecutive morning starts for the Sooners. After each of OU’s three non-conference games were scheduled during primetime, the Big 12 slate has been the exact opposite. Riley was asked about his thoughts on the early kickoffs.
“It is what it is. We’re obviously, totally a thousand percent locked in on (the Texas game) this week. Is it ideal? No, but when they told us we’ll play we’ll figure out the recruiting end of it and we’ll make it work. Like I’ve said before, it doesn’t matter if it’s 6 a.m. in the parking lot. They just tell us when and where and we’ll show up there to play.”
Full press conference notes
This Saturday will mark junior MIKE LB Kenneth Murray’s third Red River game as a starter, making him one of the more experienced players for Oklahoma on either side of the ball in this game. The two-time captain will be counted on to set the tone and lead the Sooners to success at the Cotton Bowl.
Redshirt sophomore C Creed Humphrey took ownership of the offensive line’s inconsistent play through five games, but did state that the unit is close to being as cohesive as last year’s Joe Moore Award winning line. With so much shuffling going on up front over the last two weeks, it’s presented extra challenges for a group that was already trotting out four new starters coming into the 2019 season.
Creed Humphrey said the #Sooners offensive line is “not that far off” when asked where the unit stands in regards to getting to a level similar to where the unit played last year. He added there’s some technique and communication issues on his end that needs to be cleaned up.— Lee Benson (@LeeBensonNews9) October 7, 2019
Senior QB Jalen Hurts kept his usual energy on Monday, maintaining his focus on playing to a standard and improving each week. His no-nonsense demeanor should be especially valuable in a game like this.
There are college football rivalries, and then there’s OU-Texas. This game is second-to-none when it comes to venom and vitriol. While each side respects the other, there is no love lost when the crimson and cream clashes against the burnt orange.
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