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Oklahoma Sooners Football Press Conference Notes: RB Trey Sermon and DL Kenneth Mann ruled out for the season

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Topics of the week include defense and injuries and Bears, oh my!

Iowa State v Oklahoma Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

After a heart-stopping finish against Iowa State, Lincoln Riley and the Oklahoma Sooners have shifted their focus to this week’s road test in Waco, where an unbeaten Baylor Bears squad awaits.

The big news on Monday from Lincoln Riley’s presser was the announcement that junior RB Trey Sermon and redshirt senior DL Kenneth Mann have been ruled out for the remainder of the 2019 season after each sustained injuries during the Iowa State game.

“Both Trey Sermon, Kenneth Mann have season-ending injuries,” Riley said. “Tough injuries certainly for those two. They’ve not only been a big part of this team, but a big part of a lot of teams and a lot of great memories around here. Obviously sick, heartbroken for those two because they both put a ton into this program.”

Over the last few weeks, Sermon’s carries diminished significantly, while Mann missed the first three games of the season as he recovered from a previous injury. Fortunately for the Sooners depth at each position shouldn’t be a major concern, but nevertheless these losses aren’t helping.

During Monday’s press conference, Riley addressed the untimely defensive miscues, the fans leaving early, and previewed a hungry Baylor program led by Matt Rhule.

Riley on what’s happened to the defense

Over the first seven games of the season, Oklahoma’s defense had shown remarkable improvement from nearly every statistical angle, but in the last two games the Sooners have regressed by giving up the two largest scoring outputs and struggled to generate stops in favorable situations. Riley discussed what the problem could be.

“We haven’t played as good. We’ve done it in spurts. We’ve had spurts when we haven’t tackled as good, and we continue to put ourselves in a hole where we got to play really well if you’re not getting turnovers. We obviously got a critical one there at the end of the game that was great, but definitely some things we need to do better.”

Riley on Kennedy Brooks’ impact

Redshirt sophomore RB had season highs in carries and yards on Saturday with 15 and 132, respectively. Now with the news that his backfield running mate Trey Sermon will be sidelined for the remainder of the year, Riley talked about Brooks’ importance to the team on that night and his production going forward.

“It was important. He ran well, he did. Like I said after, he was agonizingly close to popping two or three more (explosive runs). We did some really good things in the run game from an offensive line standpoint, a running back standpoint. We executed better, and when you do that you’re going to get more opportunities. […] (Brooks’ production) is going to be key. It’s always key at the end of the year. We hate losing Trey, but Kennedy’s been a workhorse for us before and we certainly have a lot of confidence in Rhamondre (Stevenson) and T.J. (Pledger) as well.

Riley on fans leaving the stadium early

Well before the game tightened up in the fourth quarter, droves of fans left the stadium believing the game was well in-hand. That’s when Iowa State made its move and closed the gap in a hurry. Riley gave his thoughts on the early departures from fans.

“It’s our job as coaches and players that we got to play to our level no matter what. That is certainly our job and I would never put that on our fans or anybody else’s fans or any stadium or any atmosphere. Now, the flipside of that like I’ve said up here many times, we have one of the great stadiums in America, one of the great fan bases in America, and when it’s rocking in there — does our team feel that? Hell yeah they do. And when it’s not, do they feel that? Hell yeah they do. Yup.”

Riley on Caleb Kelly and Grant Calcaterra returning

LB Caleb Kelly, now medically cleared to play, has been on a long road to recovery since April, and by the week it seems like there’s more and more chance he could make a return to the football field before the end of the 2019 season. Meanwhile TE Grant Calcaterra has been sidelined since the Texas game, missing each of the last four contests. Riley provided a small update on both players.

“(Kelly) has done really well. He’s knocking the rust off, and I think he’ll be ready to help us here pretty quick. Calcaterra — still not planning on having him available this week. We’re still in a little bit of a wait-and-see mode there.”

Full press conference links

Neville Gallimore

Redshrit senior DT Neville Gallimore knows how big this next game is for Oklahoma and how much of a statement the Sooners can make with the opportunity of the entire nation watching.

CeeDee Lamb

Junior WR CeeDee Lamb was named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week after another monstrous performance against Iowa State. If he keeps this up, he might have a legitimate argument for a finalist spot at the Heisman Trophy ceremony.

Jalen Hurts

Once again, senior QB Jalen Hurts began his presser period with an opening statement, and it’s full of some of the more compelling quotes (low bar, I know) you’ll hear from Oklahoma’s starting signal caller. The man is all business, and he’s on a mission.

Lincoln Riley

I doubt Lincoln Riley is overly concerned about the criticism his defense receives from the Sunday congregation, but he also knows there are several problems that still need to be worked out before long.

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