(Photo by Michael Kinney)
By Michael Kinney
NORMAN – Coming off its convincing 48-14 victory over UCLA, No. 5 Oklahoma heads into its bye week feeling pretty good. In three games, they have rolled through the competition with ease.
However, the Sooners are not about to let their early-season success and headlines go to their head. They have bigger plans
“What we’ve done hasn’t been enough,” OU linebacker Kenneth Murray said. “It hasn’t been up to the standard we want to be at. The standard we want to be at is national championship level. We want to play in the national championship, we want to win a national championship.”
However, it’s hard to overlook what the Sooners have done so far. OU has gained at least 600 total yards, rushed for at least 300 yards and passed for at least 300 yards in all three games this season.
Against the Bruins, quarterback Jalen Hurts was 15 of 20 passes for 289 yards and three touchdowns and rushed 14 times for 150 yards and a score. Hurts has thrown nine passing TDs and rushed for four more through three games.
Among all players with at least 38 carries, Hurts leads the nation with his 9.8 yards per rush. He also leads the NCAA with a 250.2 passer rating and a 14.4 yards per pass attempt.
Yet, Hurts refused to acknowledge how well he’s has been playing.
“There’s always room for improvement,” Hurts said. “I think we’ve got to be more crisp. I sound like a broken record, but it’s the truth.”
Lincoln Riley was just as staunch in his lack of adjectives when it comes to Hurts.
“He’s doing well,” Riley said. “Making some good decisions, making some explosive plays. There is still a long, long way to go. A lot to grow on. He sees that, I see that, we all see that. The production there, but the competition changes, things evolve. Either you get better or people beat you.”
Yet, Riley was a little more willing to talk about how well the defense has looked in defensive coordinator Alex Grinch.
“We played good team football early in games. We’ve gotten stops, defensively,” Riley said. “We are playing good team football. It has been steps, steps in the right direction. We did some good things, but we are still so far away from where we could be.”
Defensive back Justin Broiles said the defense still had its lapses, which they are working on. But there is one area he is defiantly seeing an improvement.
“One thing you can’t coach is effort,” Broiles said. “And I feel like that’s what we are putting on tape.”
Brendan Radley-Hiles echoed those sentiments.
“There are a few areas we can improve upon,” Radley-Hiles said. “But overall I think that was a better-finished game. I feel as the first two games we really didn’t finish well.”
With a week off before the Sooners face Texas Tech at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 28 at home, the players will practice a few days this week before having a couple of days off. Then they will get back and get ready for the start of Big 12 Conference action.
“I think it gives us an opportunity to be aggressive with the week,” Riley said. “It’s not going be about freshening them up. Again what I’ve been telling you, it’s not lip service. We got to get better and we got to get better now and this week that’s goal number one.”
Maybe then, the Sooners will pull out the elusive complete game they have been searching for this season.
“It will look completer than what ya’ll have seen,” Hurts said. “What ya’ll have seen, the stuff we’ve displayed is not complete football. It’s not what we want to do. We can be better.”
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider