It’s been two weeks since the Oklahoma Sooners last met with the media for a game week press conference, and this time the competition is much greater as OU is set to host the Kansas State Wildcats this Saturday at 11 a.m. CT. Last season, Chris Klieman’s ‘Cats secured a shocking upset victory in Manhattan over Lincoln Riley’s crew.
Speaking of Klieman, he also met with the media on Tuesday for K-State’s weekly press conference. The Wildcats head coach revealed that his team is close to the threshold of not having enough players available to play against Oklahoma this Saturday. For those who are unaware, the current threshold across the FBS is a minimum of 53 total players, including a requirement of at least seven offensive lineman, four defensive linemen, and one quarterback.
At #KState: Chris Kleiman says there's "another position" where they are really close to the threshold of not being able to play. Mentions last week they were 1 player at 1 position away from having to cancel, now it's another position.— Harold R. Kuntz (@HaroldRKuntz3) September 22, 2020
This is obviously a tricky situation that will be closely monitored by the day as kickoff approaches. If either Kansas State or Oklahoma were to fall below the threshold before then, this game will likely be postponed or canceled.
Here are some of the notable questions during Lincoln Riley’s Tuesday presser.
Riley on the COVID-related benefits of the off week
Built into Oklahoma’s 10-game 2020 schedule were three off-weeks each coming in a different month. The Sooners are entering Big 12 play this weekend after going through this season’s first off-week, and after discovering just how depleted the team was against Missouri State, the early interruption turned out to be a welcomed sight. Riley spoke about what the extra time did for his group.
“It was good to have the bye week when we did. Certainly glad that we ended up scheduling that the way that we did, and happy that we were able to play. We obviously don’t have that cushion now that you’ve had with three straight important games coming up. Obviously we’ve got to continue to handle it better, understand that when a guy makes a mistake or gets popped in contact tracing now it’s not going to be one game (out for quarantine), it’s likely to be multiple games.”
Riley on WR Jadon Haselwood playing this season
Many would argue that sophomore receiver Jadon Haselwood is Oklahoma’s most talented wideout on the team, so it was especially devastating when it was announced that he would miss the season with a lower body injury sustained in the spring. Interestingly enough, he’s been seen moving fairly well in his rehabilitation as of late, and there has been talk that he could make his return much sooner rather than later. Riley addressed the possibility of this.
“Jadon’s done really well, progressing very quickly. We absolutely expect that he’ll be available to play for us at some point this year.”
Riley on the status of players’ suspensions
The NCAA has still yet to give OU a clear answer on the status of suspended Sooners Ronnie Perkins, Rhamondre Stevenson and Trejan Bridges. Riley is clearly frustrated about the topic, but understands that until the rule is updated, it is what it is. While he never made direct mention of the players’ use of what has always been believed to have been marijuana, his answer certainly implied as much. Here’s what he had to say.
“I think we’re approaching it with those guys like we won’t have them, and then if we happen to get some good news then we’ll adjust from there. We’re not sitting here dwelling on it day-to-day. [...] You’re talking about an archaic rule within the NCAA. You’re talking about a world that has really changed on that subject.”
Full press conference links
UCLA Bruins grad transfer Theo Howard had a strong showing in OU’s season opener versus Missouri State, catching five passes for 63 receiving yards. It was especially notable for him to produce knowing that it was his first in-game action since injuring his Achilles earlier this year.
"Obviously I tore my achilles and had surgery right afterward. Most people aren't able to come back from achilles injuries in 5 or 6 months like I did." - Theo Howard confirms his injury publicly for the first time.— SoonerScoop.com (@SoonerScoop) September 22, 2020
In his meeting with the media, redshirt freshman QB Spencer Rattler talked about the importance of staying ‘cool, calm and confident’. There’s certainly no lacking of confidence in this young man’s mind, and it’s apparently affecting the team around him. According to their QB, they all have that swag about them. (Side note: Jalen Hurts would have never said something like this, but that’s okay because Spencer isn’t a football playing robot)
#Sooners quarterback Spencer Rattler: "We all have that swag about us."— Parker Thune (@ParkerThune) September 22, 2020
Riley was also asked about his take on the Sooners’ defensive backs. Alex Grinch has slowly turned the secondary into a group of playmakers as opposed to the liability they once were.
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