Boul­ware gives Sooners a Red River his­tory les­son

The Oklahoman - - SPORTS - BROOKE PRYOR, STAFF WRITER

NOR­MAN — In many ways, the Ok­la­homa-Texas game is a re­gional bat­tle, a lon­grun­ning border state war between the two pro­grams and their fans.

The play­ers from Ok­la­homa and Texas on OU’s ros­ter un­der­stand the weight of the ri­valry, but what about the ones from Ge­or­gia, North Carolina or Cal­i­for­nia?

“I didn't re­ally know too much about it,” said fresh­man Trey Ser­mon, a Ge­or­gia im­port. “I al­ways knew that it was a big ri­valry game. Now that I know a lit­tle bit more just by be­ing here, lis­ten­ing to the play­ers, I know it's go­ing to be re­ally big.”

Even if the out-of-staters didn’t un­der­stand when they ar­rived in Nor­man, run­ning backs coach and spe­cial teams co­or­di­na­tor Jay Boul­ware makes sure they know the his­tory of the ri­valry be­fore the game.

“The one thing they do know, this is one of the topthree ri­valry games in the coun­try,” said Boul­ware, who grew up in Ok­la­homa but played at Texas. “Ev­ery­body knows about it. It’s some­thing when you’re a part of it and you’re able to come down that tun­nel, no mat­ter which side you’re on, it’s spe­cial. I still get goose bumps pulling into that State Fair­grounds to this day. I can feel it im­me­di­ately, you can feel that in­ten­sity as soon as you pull in. “You cross that Red River, if you’re com­ing from Ok­la­homa. We used to typ­i­cally take a bus down, too. It was kind of a vis­ual of, ‘Man, we’re in en­emy ter­ri­tory right now. Most peo­ple in Texas don’t like Ok­la­homa ... It’s a re­ally spe­cial mo­ment and I think th­ese kids from out of state, when they ex­pe­ri­ence their first one, it’s gonna hit them the same way, too.”

Sooners’ in­jury sit­u­a­tion still un­known

The sta­tus of OU’s in­jured play­ers — in­clud­ing wide re­ceiver CeeDee Lamb and run­ning back Ab­dul Adams — is still up in the air just days be­fore the Sooners take on Texas. “A cou­ple of those guys were pretty banged up in that game and haven’t been able to do a whole lot,” coach Lin­coln Ri­ley said Wed­nes­day. “We’ve tried to let a few of them let some things calm down and try to make some de­ci­sions here later in the week.” Lamb, who in­jured his shoul­der against Iowa State, has been ac­tive on Twit­ter, send­ing some­what cryp­tic mes­sages about his sta­tus. The fresh­man, who has 307 yards on 17 re­cep­tions and four touch­downs, tweeted “Big time play­ers, make big time plays in big time games,” Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

Does that mean he’ll be on the field at the Cotton Bowl?

“I don’t know yet,” Ri­ley said. “He hasn’t done a whole lot with us here dur­ing the first few days. He’s go­ing to have to make some pretty strong progress over the next few days.”

Red River Show­down helps build brand

The stakes of the an­nual Red River Show­down are al­ways high. In the past, the out­come of the game has fac­tored in to the Big 12 race and the na­tional cham­pi­onship race. It can also fac­tor into fu­ture re­cruit­ing bat­tles between the two teams.

First-year coaches Ri­ley and Tom Herman have al­ready started a new chap­ter of the re­cruit­ing war between the two pro­grams with Ri­ley flip­ping Texas com­mit Ron Ta­tum and Herman grab­bing for­mer OU quar­ter­back com­mit Cameron Ris­ing.

Ri­ley knows he’ll likely go up against Herman plenty on the re­cruit­ing trail, but he isn’t con­vinced that this year’s game between the two schools will sway a re­cruit to pick one over the other.

“It’s a lit­tle dif­fi­cult to say,” he said. “At the end of the day, is what hap­pens in this game, is it go­ing to de­cide one guy or an­other? I doubt it. But there’s no ques­tion that win­ning just in gen­eral and do­ing well in big games helps you es­tab­lish the brand that you want to es­tab­lish.”

[PHOTO BY STEVE SISNEY, THE OK­LA­HOMAN]

With his back­ground as an Ok­la­homa City na­tive and a for­mer Texas player, OU spe­cial teams co­or­di­na­tor Jay Boul­ware knows all the ins and outs of the Red River Ri­valry.

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