For the third consecutive season, the Oklahoma Sooners have finished the regular season with an 11-1 record and are headed to the Big 12 Championship game. This time, OU will rematch Matt Rhule and the Baylor Bears in a top 10 showdown at AT&T Stadium.
On Monday, Lincoln Riley, Jalen Hurts, Kenneth Murray and Nick Basquine met with the media to review Saturday night’s win in Bedlam as well as the 2019 regular season before previewing the title bout for the conference crown between the Bears and the Sooners.
Riley on Jalen Redmond’s status
Redshirt freshman pass rushing artist Jalen Redmond missed Oklahoma’s in-state rivalry contest against Oklahoma State. In fact, he did not even travel with the team from Norman to Stillwater. This development is particularly concering because of his history with blood clotting issues that kept him sidelined for the majority of the 2018 season, but Riley addressed the reason for this as much as he could and updated his status going forward.
“Jalen Redmond didn’t travel with us the other night. It’s a medical decision — totally unrelated to what he went through previously, so he is questionable for this week.”
Riley on Baylor coach Matt Rhule
Lincoln Riley is 3-0 against Matt Rhule in head-to-head matchups since 2017. During the presser, Oklahoma’s coach was asked to talk about his relationship and history with the man who has resurrected Baylor’s program from college football’s abyss.
“Just from some conversations before games and then certainly at the coaches meetings the last few years, yeah, I like him. Real personable guy. Seems like a really good family guy, too. I’ve always enjoyed visiting with him. We’ve had good conversations. He’s obviously been a big positive for Baylor, for this league, and he seems like he’s done a really good job not being from this area. Coming down, just like anybody that moves to kind of a new part of the country or world, whatever it is, he’s done a great job adapting and has a really good way about him.”
Riley on Baylor QB Charlie Brewer
Bears junior QB Charlie Brewer has led Baylor to a remarkable turnaround through the air and on the ground, as he’s racked up 2,935 passing yards and 20 TDs on a 65.5% completion percentage while also adding 340 yards and 10 more scores with his legs. Riley talked about the well-rounded signal caller OU’s defense will try to contain on Saturday.
“I think he’s a really tough kid on top of being, obviously, a really talented player. I’ve seen him get hit a lot — he gets back up. I think he brings toughness to the position which I think is always a huge key at that position, and yeah, I think he’s developed. He’s grown through the years and he’s throwing the ball well. He’s an athletic guy back there, a competitor. Comes from a great line of really, really good quarterbacks as we all know. So he’s done a tremendous job leading the team.”
Riley on Jalen Hurts and the OU QB rushing record
Through 12 games, Jalen Hurts has amassed 1,217 rushing yards. The all-time single-season program record for an Oklahoma QB is currently held by Jack Mildren, who rushed for 1,289 yards in 1971. Riley was asked about if he ever thought he’d wind up coaching a quarterback who would be on the verge of resetting such a historic mark.
“You never know what you’re going to get and skill set-wise what you’re going to have, and I love having mobile guys. I think being able to run the quarterback some here and there is a great thing to be able to do offensively, but now to say we’d have a guy rush for that many yards, I probably would have lost that bet.”
Riley on the recruiting calendar
Riley was also asked about the recruiting ramifications of playing in this type of game, as teams in this situation lose critical home-stretch time for 2020 prospects. Oklahoma petitioned the NCAA to allow for extra recruiting days but had no such luck.
“We even petitioned the NCAA a while back trying to make it if you qualify for your conference championship game, then you should get one or two days of recruiting, maybe even like that Sunday. I’m sure all the teams that didn’t think they were going to be in the conference championship voted it down. I think we had support from 10 teams, then 50 didn’t agree. Imagine that.”
Oklahoma is typically accustomed to this, but one must consider the fact that the season ends a week later in 2019, which throws an even bigger wrench into things for these programs.
“Its not good for the sport. It makes zero sense that you qualify for your championship game but you’re penalized in maybe the most important recruiting point of the year.”
Full press conference links
Oklahoma is on the unprecedented precipice of winning five straight Big 12 Championships, and junior MIKE LB Kenneth Murray has been a significant part of the last two. Even with all that experience, K9 understands how special this one can be.
The Sooners’ identity has gradually evolved into a run-first, run-second type of team. Even with so many great passing options, when the winning formula calls for more rushing plays, guys like Nick Basquine often find themselves on the outside looking in in more ways than one. Fortunately at OU it hasn’t been a problem because of the team-first mentality and selfless culture established by veterans like this sixth-year senior leader.
The #Sooners have rushed 52, 64 and 44 times the last three games. They've also passed for fewer than 200 yards over the last two games. Nick Basquine was asked about fewer passes available for WRs in the offense right now. pic.twitter.com/pshtbU0fr0— SoonerScoop.com (@SoonerScoop) December 2, 2019
Jalen Hurts’ sole focus is on defeating Baylor this Saturday for a Big 12 title. He knows that if he and his Sooners play up to their own standards, the conference crown should be theirs for the taking.
There’s only one College Football Playoff rankings release to go through before the final one that will ultimately decide which four teams will match up in the semifinals at the end of this month. Lincoln Riley hasn’t opined much about his Sooners in regards to the CFP, but on Monday he opened up quite a bit about the subject.
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