Take 3: Sermon, Mann out for season
Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley was back addressing the media Monday afternoon as the Sooners get ready for undefeated Baylor. Here are the biggest takeaways from the 25-minute press conference.
Game No. 10: at Baylor (6:30, ABC)
Take No. 1: Trey Sermon, Kenneth Mann out for season
You just had that feeling it wasn’t good about the injuries for running back Trey Sermon and defensive lineman Kenneth Mann. Riley announced both suffered season-ending injuries vs. Iowa State.
“They've not only been a big part of this team, but a big part of a lot of teams and a lot of great memories around here,” Riley said. “So obviously sick, heartbroken for those two because they both put a ton into this program.
“Will definitely create some opportunities for others and for us to continue to move on as a team and opportunities for other people to step up and grow, and that's what has to happen in these moments.”
With Mann being a redshirt senior, that means his OU playing career is done, unfortunately. Sermon is a junior and could definitely come back in 2020.
As for the rest, with guys like Grant Calcaterra, Adrian Ealy?
“Everybody else on the injury front, the answer is gonna be, I don't know. We had a couple of other guys get dinged the other night.”
Sermon out means more of Kennedy Brooks, which should be OK as he has proven before.
“It's going to be key,” Riley said. “It's always key at the end of the year. We hate losing Trey but Kennedy has been a workhorse for us before and certainly we have a lot of confidence in Rhamondre and T.J. as well.”
Take No. 2: Still searching for safety depth
As the season wears on, it’s become more and more apparent the lack of safety depth is going to be an issue for the Sooners.
OU is getting the best out of Delarrin Turner-Yell and Pat Fields, but there’s not much of anything right now behind them.
Or is there? It was around this time in 2017 when OU decided to not worry about redshirting Tre Norwood and Tre Brown and both paid immediate dividends.
Could that happen this year with Jeremiah Criddell and Woodi Washington at the safety spot?
“I think we’ve got a number of guys that are right on the edge right now,” Riley said. “Some of the injuries we’ve had at different positions – you get here late in the year and guys are going to have some opportunities. They need to be ready to make the most of them.
“We’ve worked hard behind the scenes to develop those guys. A lot of those guys are doing some things that really get you excited. For them, it’s a matter now of getting the opportunity and being ready to jump in and seize it.”
It’s very easy to say so-and-so deserves more playing time. But what you see Saturday is a product of the week in practice. Simply put, you gotta earn your spot. If given the chance, show out and make sure you’re not denied.
“And they’ve got to respond. It’s two-fold,” Riley said. “You’ve got to give them the opportunity as a coach, and the flip side of it is they’ve got to practice and prepare well enough that you have the confidence to give them those opportunities. It takes both sides.”
Take No. 3: The takeaway hurdle
Sounds like a broken record, but OU has not had a takeaway in five games and only has one in six conference games.
It’s a huge point of emphasis by defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, but you start to wonder if it becomes a mental thing and defenders pressing just a bit.
“I think we’ve got definitely some guys doing that. I think that’s very fair to say,” Riley said. “With a team, sometimes it’s hard to say it’s one thing. We’ve got a big team. A hundred and something guys, a lot of guys that play. So what is one player’s issue is not always this player’s issue.
“So we’ve got some guys, I think, that are trying too hard and at times get out of the context of what we are doing schematically. We’ve got some guys that are kind of young and still trying to figure all this out. We’ve got guys that are learning what it takes at this level and be great, especially at this time of the year. So yea, we’ve got guys that are learning what it takes to focus each and every play, because it’s really difficult.”