Sooners work to fine-tune fourth down
•Broadcast crew: Brendan Burke (play-by-play), Dave Anderson (color), Christian Steckel (sideline)
•How to watch online: The game can be purchased through your cable provider, AppleTV, Roku, SoonerSports.TV or the SoonerSports2Go app. It will cost $54.99 to purchase it through SoonerSports, and it is not included in other SoonerSports.tv packages. •How to watch on TV: Cox, channel 503/505 HD/661 SD, and can be purchased from set-top boxes or by calling Cox.
DirecTV, channel 787
Dish, channel 461
AT&T U-Verse, channel 1636 HD/636 SD
More providers will be added to SoonerSports.com as they are finalized throughout the game week.
NORMAN — At Big 12 Media Days nearly two months ago, Lincoln Riley jokingly — or maybe not so jokingly — said the best part about being a head coach was getting to make the fourth-down decisions.
It seemed like the offensive whiz might gamble a bit more often than his predecessor.
Sure enough, through two games, Riley has attempted to convert five fourth-downs.
But the Sooners have been successful just once.
“We’ve been in a bunch of situations in these games early where we’re right there at the 35- or 40-yard line,” Riley said. “It’s a little too close to punt it or you are talking about a really, really long field goal.
“Most of them have been early in games. We had one in the other game where we were just running out the clock, which skews it a little bit. We’ve had a couple of things called where either we didn’t make the play or it was a bad call by me. We have to do better there.”
Against UTEP, Baker Mayfield was sacked for a loss of 10 yards in the first quarter, attempting to convert a fourth-and-3 just 32 yards away from the end zone.
Then, in the fourth quarter, walk-on Najee Bissoon was stopped at fourth-and-5 from UTEP’s 26-yard line.
In Columbus, Ohio, the Sooners’ first possession ended on Ohio State’s 36-yard line as Mayfield’s deep pass to freshman CeeDee Lamb fell incomplete. Later in the same quarter, Mayfield again tried to covert a fourth down with a deep pass, this one to Mark Andrews in the end zone. The pass sailed over Andrews’ head, but the Sooners were bailed out by a pass interference call.
“I think for me it’s about doing my job,” Mayfield said. “You have to treat it like any other down, just get the ball out my hands and into the playmakers’ hands and give them an opportunity.
“There’s certain things, situationally, on fourth down that are different than others. I think for me, it’s about getting the ball in their hands. I need to be better at that. I’ll treat it a little differently when I get the opportunity again.”
It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that OU finally converted its first fourth down of the season as freshman running back Trey Sermon picked up four yards on a fourth-and-3, but the drive ended a couple plays later when Mayfield’s pass on fourth-and-8 to Dimitri Flowers only picked up a yard. But like Bissoon’s failed conversion, that play didn’t matter too much with the Sooners ahead 31-16 with a 1:23 left in the game.
Film reveals areas that need improvement
OU’s win against Ohio State certainly looked impressive in real time on Saturday night.
But after reviewing the film, Riley found more than a couple areas that needed immediate attention.
“The film always tells a different story,” Riley said. “Everybody, when they left the game, you’d think we’d played the most perfect football game in the history of organized football. When you turn on the film, you see it was way, way, way, far from that. There’s a lot to get better at.
“They realize that we have a lot of season left. We’re not even to conference play yet. But we’ll see Saturday how we respond.”
Fobbs returns to familiar territory
Don’t be too surprised if one face looks familiar on Tulane’s sideline Saturday afternoon.
The Green Wave’s running backs coach, Jamaal Fobbs, is plenty familiar with the Sooners as a former Oklahoma State running back, earning All-Big 12 honors as senior in 2000 as an all-purpose player.
Fobbs joined Tulane’s staff when head coach Willie Fritz was hired before last season. Before that, Fobbs was at Liberty, Tennessee, North Carolina A&T, Southestern Louisiana, LSU and Chattanooga.
OU will host the first stop on the Dollar General Big 12 Championship Tailgate Tour this weekend. It will be set up in the Sooner Fast Fest along Jenkins Avenue and Page Street from 1-4:30 p.m. Former OU linebacker Rufus Alexander and defensive back/ punt returner Antonio Perkins will be there along with chef Ashely Davis of Bigguns BBQ.
Lincoln Riley hasn’t converted many fourth downs yet, but it’s something the team is working on ahead of facing Tulane on Saturday.