Riley adjusts to stretch of home games
With Saturday’s game vs. Tulane (11 a.m., ABC) having moved to Norman, the Sooners will play four consecutive home games to start the season.
Their first road game won’t come until Oct. 2 at Kansas State, after the opener was moved from New Orleans following Hurricane Ida.
“We love playing here,” Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said Thursday. “If I had my pick, yeah, we’d get on the road at some point before that. But it is what it is. There’s certainly some inherent advantages and we’re going to really emphasize and really try to take advantage of all the positive things from it.”
It’s the first time since 2004 the Sooners have started the season with four consecutive home games.
“We’ll have to do a good job as coaches of preparing our guys within the routine,” Riley said.
“One of the great things for us, other than getting on the planes, the routine really doesn’t change a whole lot from home to the road. We try to keep it as similar as possible. So we’ll emphasize the changes and try to be ready to roll when that first road game comes around.”
McIver on scholarship
Earlier this week, Riley closed practice with an announcement — reserve offensive lineman Ian McIver was being put on scholarship.
“Having been a walk-on, I remember what that means,” Riley said. “And that’s a goal out there for every walk-on, no matter what. He has earned it. I was glad to be able to do that for him, and he’s earned it. He’s been a tough warrior here for a couple of years, and he knows our offense extremely well. So it was the right time for him and fit kind of within the team’s scholarship numbers and needs, so it was just the perfect time to do it.”
McIver is in his fifth season with the Sooners, playing in 10 games over the last two seasons as a backup center. McIver enters this season third on the depth chart at both center and right guard.
Riley praises former QBs
A pair of former OU quarterbacks will be starting elsewhere this weekend, with Austin Kendall earning the starting job for Louisiana Tech while Tanner Mordecai will start for SMU.
Riley might have time to watch, as Kendall’s squad takes on Mississippi State at 3 p.m. while Mordecai and the Mustangs host Abilene Christian at 6.
“That’s awesome,” Riley said. “Those will be two of my favorites to watch off to the side.”
Kendall played for the Sooners from 2016-18 before transferring to West Virginia after Jalen Hurts transferred to OU.
Kendall went 3-6 as a starter for the Mountaineers in 2019 but barely played last year until coming off the bench in the Liberty Bowl. He threw for 121 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Mountaineers to a 24-21 win over Army. He moved on to Louisiana Tech as a grad transfer.
“It’s cool to see Austin,” Riley said. “Obviously he’s traveled a winding road here and I’m glad he stuck with it and I’m glad he went in there and earned that job.”
Mordecai spent 2018-2020 at OU, serving as the Sooners’ backup last season before moving on to finish his career at SMU.
“I’m thrilled for Tanner,” Riley said. “I have a lot of reasons to be invested in that one doing well. I’ll be their biggest fan and excited to watch those guys. I’m proud of what they are doing and certainly no surprise that they are both having success.”
Riley’s brother, Garrett, is the Mustangs’ quarterbacks coach.
Mordecai and another former Sooners player, tight end Grant Calcaterra, were named captains for SMU.