Sooners look to continue post-Texas success
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 difficult?
“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 ramifications 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 benefit 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 first 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 field 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 first-team offense and Rattler with the second-team offense 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 offensive 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 confidence in what we are doing and what you’re calling and then those things will come together.”