The Oklahoman

Riley sees room for O-line to improve

- OU Insider Justin Martinez The Oklahoman USA TODAY NETWORK

The laundry needs to be cleaned up. Oklahoma’s offensive line has been under the microscope for most of this season, and that was the case once again during last week’s road win over Kansas State.

The group provided Spencer Rattler with time to complete 22 of his 25 passing attempts (88%) and created enough holes for Kennedy Brooks to rush for a season-high 91 yards, but there was one blemish on an otherwise solid outing. Actually, there were seven of them. The Sooners’ offensive line was flagged for seven penalties at K-State, and head coach Lincoln Riley was quick to point those miscues out during Tuesday’s media session.

“We can’t put ourselves in those positions,” Riley said. “(Penalties) kind of held back what could’ve been a really, really strong performanc­e by the O-line. It really was. Again, you take those away, it was good. But great groups don’t have those.”

Three different offensive linemen drew at least one penalty in the win.

Redshirt senior Tyrese Robinson got called for two false starts, one hold and one unsportsma­nlike conduct. Senior Chris Murray also got caught for a false start and a hold, while redshirt senior Marquis Hayes drew one holding call.

The group hopes to clean up these errors as it prepares for a rivalry game against Texas on Saturday. It’s a matchup that’ll put the Sooners’ O-line to the test yet again, but Riley is confident in the improvemen­t he has seen as of late.

“We can play at a higher level,” Riley said. “We can do it without the penalties... (I’m) excited in a lot of ways. If we clean up the penalties, continue to grow there, we’ll get better and better and in turn get better offensively.”

High standards for defense

Defensive coordinato­r Alex Grinch tells it like it is.

OU’s defense has made a habit of bailing out its offense this season, but those roles got reversed during last weekend’s game against Kansas State.

This time it was the Sooners’ offense that made up for a lackluster defensive performanc­e to secure a 37-31 win over the Wildcats, and Grinch called his group out after the game for a lack of preparatio­n.

“It’s also indicative of how guys are practicing,” Grinch said. “We believe in practice. Some of our players don’t. Guys get opportunit­ies when other guys maybe don’t practice as well.”

Grinch didn’t just call out his players, though.

The third-year OU coordinato­r expanded his comments on Tuesday,

claiming that a lack of preparatio­n begins with him and his staff.

“What it comes down to is being better coaches,” Grinch said. “It’s cool to say culture and it’s cool to say process, but your process is what you do. It’s your actions and your behaviors. And who drives behaviors? It’s coaches. My frustratio­n was a frustratio­n to myself.”

While Grinch is willing to take the blame for Saturday’s defensive breakdowns, defensive co-captain Pat Fields believes it’s also on the players to step up their game.

“We have such a high standard for ourselves,” Fields said. “If you don’t have a high standard for yourself, it’s easy to not have a bad day.”

Confidence in Caleb

Caleb Williams showed both ends of the spectrum in his first career road game on Saturday.

OU marched down to Kansas State’s 1-yard line on its opening drive before bringing in the freshman quarterbac­k for what appeared to be a goal-line push. The situation wasn’t new for Williams, who punched it in from one yard out during the Sooners’ Week 1 home win over Tulane.

But that didn’t happen this time around. Instead, Williams mishandled the snap and eventually fell on the live ball for a loss of 12 yards. That stalled the Sooners’ drive and forced them to settle for a field goal.

It’s a play that showed the true freshman’s youth, but Williams showed his potential when he made his second appearance in the third quarter. The young field general delivered an 18-yard pass to Mario Williams before retiring for the day.

“The first one didn’t go quite as planned. The second one was better,” Riley said of Williams’ two snaps. “Mentally, he was fine. He didn’t get rattled, which is good.”

Injury updates

Senior safety Delarrin Turner-Yell and freshman linebacker Danny Stutsman (arm) did not suit up against Kansas State. Riley said before the road contest that he expected both players to be available no later than the game against Texas.

Redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Jalen Redmond (knee) and freshman wide receiver Cody Jackson (medical issue) also didn’t suit up against the Wildcats. Both players last saw game action against Nebraska on Sept. 18.

Lastly, junior defensive lineman Isaiah Coe suffered an injury in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game against Kansas State and did not return.

“We hope to get some guys back,” Riley said. “If we get some guys back, that’s great. A couple of guys are progressin­g, but I’m not ready to make any definitive announceme­nts yet.”

 ?? IAN MAULE/TULSA WORLD ?? OU offensive lineman Andrew Raym (73) celebrates as running back Kennedy Brooks scores a touchdown during the Sooners' 37-31 win at Kansas State on Saturday.
IAN MAULE/TULSA WORLD OU offensive lineman Andrew Raym (73) celebrates as running back Kennedy Brooks scores a touchdown during the Sooners' 37-31 win at Kansas State on Saturday.
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