If you feel like it’s been a century since the Oklahoma Sooners last played a football game, let me tell you that the feeling is mutual. Last time out, OU fell short of a colossal comeback in the Little Apple, and after a week off to let the bad taste marinate, the team sits at No. 9 in this week’s AP Poll. With just five weeks remaining before the College Football Playoff committee decides which four teams will play in the national semifinals, the Crimson & Cream are looking for another magical run through Championship November to return them to the promised land.
On Monday, Kenneth Murray, Jalen Hurts and Lincoln Riley answered questions from the media, addressing the loss to Kansas State, the BYE week, Iowa State and more.
Riley on Grant Calcaterra’s status
Oklahoma’s starting tight end Grant Calcaterra has missed the Sooners’ last three games with an undisclosed injury. Riley provided an update on the junior pass catcher following the off-week.
“Calcaterra, along with the other injured guys that we talked about last week, we’re still in wait-and-see mode with those guys. The BYE week was good for them. There was some added time to rest, recover, rehab, all that for all those guys. We’re going to get all of them back this week and see how much they progressed through the weekend and then make a determination here later in the week.”
Riley on carries for the running backs
Among all the criticism stemming from OU’s loss to K-State, the lack of carries for the running backs has been one of the most talked about. On several plays, Jalen Hurts has had the option to give the ball to the back or keep it himself, and often times he has chosen the latter. Riley was asked if that’s a concern for him.
“(Hurts) has done pretty well with (executing the option plays). If he wasn’t, we wouldn’t keep giving him that option. There’s no doubt we want to get all these skill players involved, I get that, but we’re averaging almost 10 yards per play, so we’re doing some decent things, too.”
Riley on CeeDee Lamb’s ascension
Junior WR CeeDee Lamb has performed as advertised and then some through eight games, even during the lowest point of the season in Manhattan, Kansas. From the looks of it, he has all the makings of a future NFL superstar on the outside. Riley spoke about his veteran receiver’s growth and ability two-thirds into presumably his final year in college.
“We always try to coach our best players the hardest, and sometimes guys say they want that, but then they don’t really want that. (Lamb) has been on a constant climb to improve, and you saw it really in spring ball, and I know we’ve talked about it a bunch but the way he’s changed his body and he continues to get better and better. He practices hard, he takes hard coaching, and he’s never gotten to a point here where he feels like he’s too good to get coached hard or pointed out the things he needs to do better.”
Riley on Tuesday night’s CFP rankings reveal
The College Football Playoff rankings reveal show will air on Tuesday night around 8 p.m. CT on ESPN. It’ll be the first CFP committee’s top 25 of the 2019 season, and Riley was asked if he has any plans to watch.
“I won’t (watch). I just don’t put stock in it. Go look where we were ranked the previous years after we lost a game. There’s so much left to happen. I know this, if you keep winning, and you’re winning your league championship, if you keep winning and doing the things that you can and play to your potential as a team, those things tend to work themselves out.”
Full press conference links
Butkus Award semifinalist Kenneth Murray has been a bright spot on defense for the majority of 2019, but after Alex Grinch’s improving group was dismantled against Kansas State, K9 is stepping up as a leader and team captain to right the ship.
Biletnikoff Award hopeful CeeDee Lamb quoted the late Nipsey Hussle when talking about his mentality and approach towards the game of football. Respect.
Dedication, hard work, and patience.— ChristineButterfield (@C_Butterfield_) November 4, 2019
Be coach able and able to work
-Ceedee Lamb’s mentality
It was business as usual for an undercover-looking Jalen Hurts. In all seriousness, it was more coach speak from Oklahoma’s starting QB, but during this rebounding period it’s necessary. Like he said, the Sooners can only control how they play in the games on the schedule. That’s the focus.
Lincoln Riley may be young from a coaching perspective, but this is the third time he’s had to deal with an October loss as a head coach. If anybody knows how to navigate the storm en route to a Big 12 Championship and a berth in the CFP, it’s him. But first, just win.
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