With the Oklahoma Sooners’ season opener versus the Tulane Green Wave moved to Norman due to the impact of Hurricane Ida, head coach Lincoln Riley and others met with the media to preview the matchup and the early storylines of the 2021 season.
We're live.— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) August 31, 2021
Here are a few of the notable tidbits:
Tyrese Robinson will start at right tackle. Center and left tackle still up for grabs.
While 23 of Robinson’s 25 career starts have come at right guard, he does have two starts at right tackle under his belt (Texas Tech and Kansas in 2020). Still, fans who were hoping to see Anton Harrison and Wanya Morris bookend Bill Bedenbaugh’s group are disappointed — at least for the time being. Harrison, Morris and seasoned veteran Erik Swenson are all in the mix at left tackle according to Riley, and all three will surely get a crack at things in the early stages of the season. For now, Chris Murray will hold Robinson’s old spot at right guard.
One would assume that Andrew Raym seizes the center spot and doesn’t let go, but Robert Congel will get a fair shake in the first few games, as well. If Raym struggles early, the door could be open for the Arizona transfer.
No move to running back for Brian Darby just yet.
Following the untimely departure of LSU transfer (and presumed future LSU player) Tre Bradford, Riley says the Sooners are sticking with walk-ons Jaden Knowles and Todd Hudson behind Kennedy Brooks and Eric Gray. He did, however, leave the door open for other contributors to be utilized in the future.
“You know us — we’ve got several other different skill sets on this football team, and we’ll keep trying to figure out the best way to use everybody”, added Riley after complimenting the current group in the running back room.
One player who could potentially get a chance down the road is reserve wide receiver Brian Darby, whose name has been mentioned frequently in this conversation even before OU’s most recent string of attrition. Riley’s quote came from a specific question about Darby, so credit to The Athletic’s Jason Kersey for that bit of insight.
Caleb Kelly rightfully a team captain.
In case you missed it, OU’s 2021 captains are QB Spencer Rattler, H-Back Jeremiah Hall, safety Pat Fields and sixth-year senior LB Caleb Kelly. As one would image, Riley had glowing remarks about one of the leaders of Alex Grinch’s defense.
Caleb Kelly has seen it all during his time in Norman. He starts his final season with the ultimate display of respect from his teammates. Being voted a team captain. https://t.co/TT0B6V9iHo pic.twitter.com/eYT2MhEZqV— SoonerScoop.com (@SoonerScoop) August 31, 2021
Riley, of course, wasn’t the only person to take questions Tuesday. Grinch had some good things to say about his defense, as well.
Kelly will get game reps at RUSH LB.
Grinch’s sentiments on Kelly mirror those of Lincoln Riley, but OU’s DC also offered up how he would most likely be utilized this season.
“Looking at him at the RUSH linebacker spot, I think there’s reps for him there. Game reps. Quality reps that we feel confident that he’ll have on Saturdays. Just watching him there — it’s one of those things where you ask him one day “Hey, we can always move you back”, and I think he really took to it. From a confidence standpoint, I think he feels comfortable”.