The No. 6 Oklahoma Sooners are back in the swing of things after taking the weekend off, and the Texas Tech Red Raiders are up first to open Big 12 play. On Monday, Lincoln Riley addressed the media to talk about TTU, as well as a couple happenings over weekend. Senior QB Jalen Hurts also fielded questions, in addition to redshirt sophomore C Creed Humphrey and redshirt senior DT Neville Gallimore.
Speaking of Hurts, his time at the podium was mostly ho-hum once again, but with Texas Tech coming to town, he was asked about the past shootouts between the Sooners and the Red Raiders, specifically the 66-59 instant classic from 2016. The former Alabama QB seemed a bit more brazen with his comments on Monday, but not in an bad way, if that makes any sense.
Jalen Hurts on if he ever thought he’d play in a game like OU-Texas Tech In 2016:— George Stoia III (@GeorgeStoia) September 23, 2019
“I never thought I’d be at Oklahoma, but here I am.”
During the press conference, Riley discussed the developing storylines regarding Calum Sutherland, Trejan Bridges, the offensive line and Kenneth Mann.
Riley on K Calum Sutherland’s arrest
Early on Saturday morning, Oklahoma starting placekicker Calum Sutherland was arrested for public intoxication. Riley was asked about possible consequences for the redshirt sophomore.
“We’re obviously well aware of the situation this weekend. Extremely disappointed in his choices. […] I’m not big on airing out guys’ dirty laundry in front of the rest of the country. We’re going to deal with it. I’m not going to tell you how we’re going to deal with it. It’s going to be handled internally, but trust me it’ll be handled appropriately.”
Riley on moving WR Trejan Bridges to safety
Also over the weekend, chatter suggested true freshman WR Trejan Bridges has been heavily considered for a move from offense to defense. Riley tried to set the record straight.
“If we ever move somebody to a permanent position I’m going to tell you guys. We have not done that with Trejan or anybody else. We’re always experimenting with different pieces on our team at different places, but that’s not something I’d be willing to talk here in front of everybody including all our future opponents.”
One could interpret his use of the words “permanent” and “we’re always experimenting’ as a non-denial of experimentation in this instance, but I’ll leave that up to you fine folks.
Riley on how often experimenting guys at different positions occurs: "Probably more often than the outside would guess ... We probably have more guys teed up to play all three sides of the ball than people would guess." #Sooners— Tyler Palmateer (@Tpalmateer83) September 23, 2019
Riley on the state of the offensive line
Entering Week 4, the Sooners lead the nation in yards per rush and rank second in rushing yards per game. In pass protection, Oklahoma QBs have only been sacked twice. Much of the credit goes to Bill Bedenbaugh’s O-line, which came into the season having to replace four of five starters. Still, with all the early statistical success, there are plenty of areas that will need to be shored up when the level of competition improves. Riley spoke about the unit up front on Monday.
“I think they’re doing a good job. Kind of like our whole team right now. There’s positive signs, but we’re no where near where we need to be. We still had too many penalties. We’ve been productive, but we’ve got to do a better job with penalties.”
Riley on DL Kenneth Mann’s return
Redshirt senior defensive lineman Kenneth Mann has been sidelined with an injury for the first few weeks of the season. During his presser, Riley was asked if the veteran pass rusher would be available this Saturday as Big 12 play begins.
“We do expect Kenneth back this week. He was really, really close there really for the last two non-conference (games), but we weren’t quite ready to pull the trigger honestly more from a timing perspective as far as ideal time to recover from the injury that he had as opposed to he was probably physically ready. We know we got a long stretch ahead, so we’re glad that we were able to rest him and gained another week of it with it being a bye week.”
Full press conference links
Without using the term ‘rat poison’, Creed Humphrey spoke on basically that exact subject when he was asked about how the offensive line assesses its performance beyond the prolific statistics.
Through the first quarter of the season, the Alex Grinch experiment is showing tangible results. Still, the none of the offenses Oklahoma has faced up to this point have presented that much of a threat. Neville Gallimore was asked about the challenges of continuing the high level of defensive play as Big 12 play begins.
“We approach every day as a challenge. We approach the fact that we’ve got to be better. We’ve got to be better at what we do. For us the bottom line is just making sure that we’re hitting our standard and exceeding our standards. I feel like as long as you have that, keep that same focus, that same mentality, we’re going to keep getting better.”
While it was mostly more coach-speak from Jalen Hurts on Monday, his comments about trusting his coaches and teammates still managed to shed some light on how he’s seamlessly stepped into his roles as a team captain and the starting QB. The trust also works both ways, because not only does Hurts have that trust in those around him, the team has in turn placed their trust in him.
It's about trust for Jalen Hurts. pic.twitter.com/xh2ZEBvdzh— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) September 23, 2019
The biggest benefit for the players during a bye week is having time away from football to reset and recharge for the upcoming run. For the coaches, it’s having time to hit the recruiting trail to strengthen the decision of current commits and potentially pick up new ones.
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