The Oklahoman

Sooners look to continue post-Texas success

- OU Insider Ryan Aber The Oklahoman USA TODAY NETWORK

Since Bob Stoops arrived in 1999, and continuing through Lincoln Riley, OU has had no problems with any “Texas hangover.”

The Sooners have won the game immediatel­y following their annual showdown with the Longhorns six consecutiv­e seasons and 21 of the last 22. Their lone loss since 1999 in the aftermath of Texas came in 2014, when OU fell to Kansas State, 31-30.

In the past six seasons, the Sooners have won by an average of nearly 30 points in the game following the Red River Showdown.

But given everything that went on in the Sooners’ wild 55-48 comeback victory over Texas, and everything that’s happened since with Riley’s decision over whether to go with Caleb Williams or Spencer Rattler at quarterbac­k against TCU at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at home, will bouncing back be even more difficult?

“I hope not,” Riley said. “You guys hear me talk about the Texas game — it’s a phenomenal game and I say it every year, probably too much made of it. Everybody wants to talk about these giant recruiting ramifications and, ‘Oh my God if we lose,’ and, ‘Oh, if we win, it’s so amazing.’ It’s great. It’s a rivalry win. It’s a great win. It’s great to have Saturday, but Sunday morning, we’re on to TCU. It’s over.

“If that was the pinnacle of our season, if it was our number one, only goal the entire year was just beat Texas, shoot, I wouldn’t be up here. I’d be on vacation right now. There’s so much left for us, and we’re just now at the halfway point of this thing. That’s been our mentality all the years. … We’ve got the blueprint of how to do it, but we’ve got to go do it.”

Grimes, Downs benefit from Thomas move

One of OU’s keys to defensive success in the second half of the win over Texas was the move of Isaiah Thomas from the outside to defensive tackle.

It was the first time this season Thomas had spent the majority of his snaps playing on the interior.

“I think it was a good move, just having all of our dudes on the field at the same time,” said Reggie Grimes, the player whose playing time was most enhanced by the move of Thomas to the inside. “You have Isaiah, who’s been like a mentor to me, who taught me the defense, have him move inside and give me and E(than Downs) more freedom to work on the edge, more freedom to actually get into the game a little more, play a little bit more.”

OU cancels media availabili­ty

In the aftermath of the OU Daily’s report that Williams worked out with the first-team offense and Rattler with the second-team offense during Tuesday’s practice, OU canceled its planned media availabili­ties prior to Saturday’s game, primarily Wednesday’s Zoom session with several players.

The cancellati­on came because how the student paper ascertaine­d the informatio­n — by observing the closed practice from a vantage point overlookin­g the stadium and explicitly saying that in the story.

OU sources said the decision to cancel the availabili­ty went above Lincoln Riley and even athletic director Joe Castiglion­e and was a decision of the OU administra­tion.

OL improving, but lacking consistenc­y

Sooners offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh said this week that consistenc­y — or the lack thereof — has been OU’s biggest issue up front.

“Some really, really good things and some really, really bad things,” Bedenbaugh said. “Some of it is inexperien­ce at some important positions. Some of it is preparatio­n. Some of it is obviously coaching, as it falls on me. I do think we’ve gotten better.”

But Bedenbaugh said there has been plenty of progress.

“Fortunatel­y, we’re 6-0, we’re getting better,” Bedenaugh said. “Are we where we need to be? No, we’re not.”

One of the areas the Sooners still need to improve at is center, where Andrew Raym has taken over.

“He’s getting butter, but unfortunat­ely it’s a process,” Bedenbaugh said. “Plays extremely hard, tries really, really hard, to the point of a lot of times, he’s out of control. … Playing hard, it’s not the problem. It’s relaxing, settling down, having the confidence in what we are doing and what you’re calling and then those things will come together.”

 ?? BRYAN TERRY/THE OKLAHOMAN ?? OU coach Lincoln Riley arrives at the Cotton Bowl before the Red River Showdown last Saturday. The mantra for this week: “We're on to TCU.”
BRYAN TERRY/THE OKLAHOMAN OU coach Lincoln Riley arrives at the Cotton Bowl before the Red River Showdown last Saturday. The mantra for this week: “We're on to TCU.”
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