Take 3: Texas
Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley was back addressing the media in preparation for the Red River Showdown against Texas. Here are the biggest takeaways from the 30-minute press conference.
Game No. 6: vs. Texas (Dallas, 11 a.m., Fox)
Take No. 1: No #HornsDown in this one
It’s silly. It generates snickering from both sides of the Red River. But face it, the Horns Down unsportsmanlike penalty is an issue.
And one OU will have to be cognizant of once again at the Cotton Bowl. Easy solution? Just don’t do it.
“We won’t (do it). Our players won’t do it. Our players won’t do it,” Riley said. “Just like the Big 12 game.”
OU didn’t earn a penalty during last year’s championship victory against Texas, but obviously the Sooners were more than happy to put Horns Down following the game.
With OU ripe for penalties through the first five games, the Sooners will definitely be mindful and are actually going to be attempting something new at practice this week.
“We've got some ways that we're going to attack it a little bit differently here this week,” Riley said. “As is my nature, I don't know that I'm going to sit here and spell it all out for ya, which is exactly what you are looking for. But, yea there is. I mean, if you are not getting different results, then you can't just keep doing something over and over.
“We are going to attack it a little bit differently and put a premium on it, but like I said the other day, I am not going to take away their aggressiveness. We are good enough to do both."
Take No. 2: ‘Highly questionable’ regarding the offensive tackles
As good as OU’s offense has been through five games, what could be if the offensive line could avoid the injury bug?
Last week the Sooners were without starting offensive tackles Erik Swenson and Adrian Ealy, and it remains to be seen if either will return this week.
“Swenson and Ealy, I would say are both highly questionable for this game, probably at best,” Riley said. “We’ll see how they progress here this week. I don’t see either one of those guys out extremely long-term, but it’s also, they’re dealing with a little bit more than a bump or a scratch, too.
“So we’ll continue to monitor them. The group that we played with did a lot of good things the other day, and if we continue to build with them and we can add any of those two guys, that would certainly be helpful.”
A source told SoonerScoop last week that Ealy is more likely to return than Swenson at this point, but it is absolutely TBD if Ealy can be ready for Texas this early in the week.
Take No. 3: OU ready for a fourth quarter
Everybody is ready for OU to be tested in the fourth quarter. What can Jalen Hurts do in a pressure-filled situation? How will the improved defense respond if it needs to make a play when it matters most?
It’s a question that, through five games, has not had to be answered by the Sooners. OU is only outscoring opponents 45-27 in the fourth quarter because the initial three quarters? A combined 222-68, hasn’t been necessary.
“I’m confident with the way we will play,” Riley said. “I’m confident with the leadership of this group and the motivation level. I think we’re excited for that. I really do. I’m definitely confident, but there’s nothing like getting in there and doing it.”
Despite OU’s perceived dominance, it has been a back-and-forth tussle with the Horns in Dallas the last six years, 3-3. Kind of tough to expect anything different than that Saturday afternoon.
“It’s just kind of a slugfest. It always is. That’s what makes it fun,” Riley said. “I think staying level-headed, even-keeled throughout this entire thing is important. We know it’s going to be intense and heated, but you have to stay focused through those times.”
Plus one: Bridges can (and will?) do it all
Try to put the Trejan Bridges’ story to bed this week. After playing at nickel vs. Texas Tech, he was back at wide receiver against Kansas and had two more receptions.
Through it all, no matter the offense/defense designation, he has been a big-time force on special teams. Just don’t look to pigeon-hole him as one position or another.
“Could do both,” Riley said. “Game plan last week made a little more sense, we used him a little bit more on the offensive side. I do want to find a role, but I’m fine if that role’s on either side or both sides. And he’s certainly capable of it.
“He’s been a dominant special teams player for us up to this point. He’s done a nice job in other roles he’s served, offensively and defensively. Had a great catch the other day. I think he’ll just keep growing. Eventually does it take one permanent turn or the other? Probably. He’s got a very unique skill set that’s a lot of fun to think about all the possibilities.