Sooners storm past Mountaineers

By Michael Kinney

After beating Texas in its biggest challenge of the year, some look at their game with West Virginia as a trap game. One of those contests where the team that is an overwhelming favorite is either looking ahead or still looking behind them.

In the past, this is something the Sooners had been guilty of when they drop games they shouldn’t have. But this OU squad is seemingly not going to fall for those old tricks anymore.

No. 5 Oklahoma rolled to a 52-14 victory over West Virginia Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

Coach Riley always tells us to never take winning for granted,” sophomore fullback Jeremiah Hall said. “There are a lot of programs right now that are struggling or fighting to be where we are, so we understand and know that we have to get better. At the same time, we can only enjoy one game at a time and today we are going to celebrate with smiles on our faces.”

Oklahoma (7-0, 4-0) jumped on the scoreboard first on their second possession of the game. After Kennedy Brooks ran the OU offense down into the WVU territory, quarterback Jalen Hurts hit Hall for a 20-yard touchdown pass.

The Sooners liked it so much, on the next possession they drove 74 yards in just four plays. This time Hurts connected with Charleston Rambo for a 6-yard touchdown and a 14-0 advantage.

“We got ballers,” Rambo said. “Whoever is gonna touch the ball, they’re going to make a play. We just wait our turn.”

The Mountaineers used their special teams to answer back. Back up deep in their own territory, WVU turned a fake punt into a first down. That led to former Sooner and current WVU quarterback Austin Kendall throwing a touchdown and cutting the deficit to seven points.

However, touchdowns from Brooks and Hurts seemed to stop the WVU momentum and the Sooners looked like they were on the verge of running away with the game.

But with 20 seconds left in the first half, Kendall threw his second TD pass and OU led 28-14 at halftime.

The Sooners started the second half with another long scoring drive. It ended with Hurts strolling into the endzone after a 22 yard run.

But it was on the Sooner’s next possession that Hurts put the game away. He connected with Lee Morris for a 46-yard touchdown pass down the left sideline. Hurts hit Morris in stride in the endzone.

“I wasn’t surprised,” Morris said. “Really, I didn’t know how close [the defender] was until the ball was in the air like I could just feel him getting closer and closer. Other than that, it was a dime by Jalen. I just had to fetch it.”

Kendall had opportunities throughout the day to do the same thing as the WVU receivers got behind the Oklahoma secondary. However, he often overthrew them and came away empty-handed.

The Sooner’s defense stuffed WVU on their first possession of the second half deep in the Mountaineers territory and was forced to punt. Punter Josh Growden was lined up in the endzone when Brayden Willis steamrolled through the middle of the line and blocked the punt.

The loose ball was recovered by Austin Stogner in the endzone for a TD and Oklahoma led 49-14.

“Honestly, every time we get a special teams play, we’re just pumped,” Willis said. “We try so hard on special teams that we want to just be part of the game. So every time we get a touchdown on special teams, it’s a big celebration.”

Except for the two first-half touchdown drives, the Oklahoma defense had a solid outing.  They held WVU to 242 total yards. That includes just 51 yards on the ground.

“We just wanted to make sure that momentum that they thought they had right before halftime, we got that back,” Brendan Radley-Hiles said. “They scored right before halftime so you make a play right before halftime, you go in [to the second half] with a little momentum, so we wanted to take everything out of their game plan as soon as possible.”

Oklahoma racked up 560 total yards. They averaged 9.6 yards per play.

Hurts finished the day 316 yards and three touchdowns on 16 of 17 passing. He became the third OU to complete at least 90% of his passes, throw for over 300 yards and throw for at least three TDs in a game.

Hurts also led the Sooners with 92 yards on the ground and another pair of scores.

Yet, Hurts said the Sooners are far from just how good they can be as a team.

” We don’t know what the ceiling is, no one knows. How we get to it, our peak, is going out there every day and practicing hard,” Hurts said. “I’ll say it again, having the right intent and approach to what we do, being eager, essentially starving for an opportunity to play. We just got to have that factor about us, we have to be hungry for every opportunity that we have and go out there and take advantage of our opportunities.”

Up next

The Sooners travel to Kansas State Saturday. Kick-off is set for 11 a.m., which will be their fifth straight early morning start.

Texas will challenge Oklahoma’s defense

 

By Michael Kinney

A year ago this week coach Lincoln Riley made a decision that he hoped would change the direction of his football program. After a crushing loss to Texas, Riley fired longtime defensive coordinator Mike Stoops.

When the season was over, Riley hired Alex Grinch to take over as the Sooner’s defensive coordinator. Now, after five weeks of warmups, Oklahoma fans will get to see this week why he was brought to the program.

No. 5 Oklahoma and No. 11 Texas will renew their rivalry Saturday at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. It will be Grinch’s first shot at the Longhorns.

In last year’s October matchup, the Sooners allowed Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger to go wild as he accounted for five touchdowns. He ran for 84 yards and threw for 314 yards.

Grinch knows stopping the hard-charging, mobile Ehlinger will be key, especially along the goal line.

“There are other guys that are big. But he has a unique ability to find enough of a crease to create the pile moving forward,” Grinch said. “It’s why they are good at what they do and why they’ve had so much success.”

But Texas coach Tom Herman has seen some big changes in Sooner’s defense that could cause his Longhorns problems.

“In the couple of hours that I’ve watched them, they are really, really flying to the football. Not extremely complex in terms of coverage structure but they are in the right place, not very many busts,” Herman said. “Not turning guys loose. The thing that’s a bit unique is the multiplicity of their defensive front. Them stemming and moving and twisting on almost every snap, which is difficult on an offensive lineman, to be honest with you, to try to target a guy and all of a sudden he is moving on you… I’ve been impressed with Coach Grinch the short time, the level they are playing at right now.”

Texas comes into the matchup with only one loss on its resume. That was to a top-five ranked LSU squad.

However, they have been plagued by injuries this season and have watched positions such as defensive back and running back be whittled down.

Yet, because the Red River Rivalry is one of those games that the record never seems to matter, Oklahoma coaches are making sure their players don’t get overconfident.

While this is Grinch’s first foray into the Red River Rivalry, it will be the last for several members of the Sooners. That includes defensive back Parnell Motley, who has some advice for the young players who’ve never played in the game before.

“I just tell the young guys to be yourself,” Motley said. “It’s a big game, but it’s more about us. There’s going to be some moments out there, going back and forth. But at the end of the day, just play your game. I’m just glad to have these young guys on board, to just be a part of this moment in OU-Texas. This is a great moment.”

Horns Down

For Oklahoma fans who get a kick out of seeing the Sooners pull out the ‘Horns down’ hand gesture after a big play, they may be out of luck this season.

Riley announced this week that his Sooners would not be doing the gesture under any circumstance because it could draw a taunting penalty.

“Yeah, we won’t,” Riley said. “Our players won’t do it. Yeah, our players won’t do it, just like the Big 12 [Championship] Game.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

Thunder show they like to run

By Michael Kinney

EDMOND– In the first showing of the Oklahoma City Thunder, one thing seems to be evident. The 2019 version of the Thunder is going to be a squad that gets out and runs.

During Sunday afternoon’s annual Blue and White Scrimmage, both units took advantage of their athletic ability and used the fast break as an integral part of their offense instead of just picking and choosing when to run.

Part of that had to do with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Gilgeous-Alexander was the starting point guard for the Blue squad and tried to push the pace whenever he had a chance. This allowed him to attack the defense and catch defenders off guard as he led all scorers with 21 points on 8 of 13 shooting. He also added six rebounds and two assists.

“He’s very uncanny. He’s got a really, to your point, a great wingspan. He’s a great finisher. I think he’s deceptive when he gets to the lane, because of his length,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “He’s got an unbelievable way where he just gets by people and he gets around people and he gets into the lane. And when he gets into the teeth of the defense with his size, generally good things happen.”

In his second year, that is an area, Gilgeous-Alexander wants to keep improving on.

“That is one of the things I work on, changing speeds and being deceptive,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “I’m not the fastest guy and I know that, so I have to do it other ways.”

Along with Gilgeous-Alexander, the blue squad starters consisted of Terrance Ferguson, Nerlens Noel, Hamidou Diallo and Deonte Burton. Andre Roberson didn’t play.

Chris Paul and Dennis Schrodder were teamed up with Steven Adams, Danilo Gallinari and rookie Darius Bazely on the white squad.

In the only meaningless score of the year, the White squad defeated the Blue 76-60.

Gallinari and Abdel Nadar each had 13 points for the White team. Schrodder added 12 points and Paul chipped in with 9. Adams hauled in 21 rebounds.

Bazley showed a lot on both ends of the court as he contributed 8 points and seven rebounds.

“He is just growing every day. He has a lot of talent; I don’t know if you all know that. It’s just his work ethic and how hard he plays,” Gilgeous-Alexander said of Bazley. “Obviously at his size and for his position he can rebound really well and things like that. I think for him just, keep working and he will be just fine.”

The scrimmage was set to only go for a pair of 10 minute quarters. But they added another quarter to get some more action in.

However, the Blue & White Scrimmage was definitely a lot different than in the past. In previous years, the team, cheerleaders and entire organization would go to a school or town and make the scrimmage an event that would draw hundreds of fans from the community.

This year, the Thunder did away with all of the hoopla and just went to their old training center in Edmond and invited 50 kids from a local YMCA to watch. For some reason this year they took the community aspect out of it and turned the event into a glorified practice.

The Thunder will return to the court Tuesday night in their first preseason game of the season. They will host the Dallas Mavericks at the BOK Center in Tulsa.

Their first game at the Chesapeake Energy Arena is Thursday when they face a squad from New Zealand.

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

Trio of Sooners looking to earn spot on Olympic team

Photo credit: Michael Kinney

By Michael Kinney

OKLAHOMA CITY — By the time Kellani Ricketts finished her career at the University of Oklahoma, softball had been excluded from the Olympics games for five years. And in 2013, there were really no signs that it was going to be added back any time soon.

Despite that, Ricketts kept up hope that one day her dream of being able to play in the Olympics would be realized.

“I think we kind of always had it in the back of our minds that we knew the 2020 Olympics would be in Tokyo. So we just kind of had hope and kept working for it and hopefully that goal would come back,” Ricketts said. “When they decided to put it back in for 2020, that’s when things started to get a little closer and you started to see a lot more people a lot more motivated because we had that goal again.”

Ricketts, who has been playing in the National Pro Fastpitch League since leaving Oklahoma, is back in the state for what could be the most important softball tryouts of her career. She joined 28 other hopefuls at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Softball Team Selection Trials at USA Hall of Fame Stadium. They are looking to earn a spot on the women’s national team that will compete in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo next summer.

“It’s really special because this is a really special event for the sport of softball,” said Ricketts. “Being able to have the Olympic team made here, being able to have it in Oklahoma City where it’s one of our biggest stages with the Women’s College World Series. So it’s special to be able to have everything here.”

The trials are open to the public to come and watch. They will last through Oct. 7, depending on the weather.

The final roster for the 2020 USA Softball WNT will be announced at the conclusion of the Selection Trials Oct. 8. Ricketts is hoping to be one of the 15 players who hear their name called.

“Obviously, the competition is going to be very intense, very good this week,” Ricketts said. “Just being able to stay confident. There’s going to be tough times for all of us and just being able to push through that.”

Rickets is joined at the trials by a pair of other Sooners who are looking to make their first appearance on the national team. They include Shelby Pendley (2015) and Sydney Romero (2019).

Romero was at the same complex just over four months ago competing with the Sooners in the Women’s College World Series.

“It’s fun. I think everyone loves being in OKC,” Romero said. “It’s nice to be familiar with the field and familiar with the atmosphere here.”

Romero said playing for her country has been a goal of hers for some time. But she doesn’t want to put too much pressure on herself to make the Olympic team.

“I’m surrounded by amazing athletes. The fact that I have the opportunity to be on the same field as them and just playing with them, competing with them, it’s a great accomplishment,” Romero said. “You can’t make it bigger than what it is. You have to go out and play, you have to be you. That’s my biggest thing, to just be myself.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

New-look Thunder on tap for 2019-20

By Michael Kinney

OKLAHOMA CITY — In preparation for the upcoming 2019-20 NBA, Oklahoma City Thunder General Manager Sam Presti took a little vacation. The only GM the organization has ever known traveled back East to Vermont to spend time with his family, clear his head, write in his journal and grow a beard.

But the time away also seemingly gave Presti a chance to look over the 11 years the Thunder have been in Oklahoma City and let him appreciate what the franchise has been through. But also appreciate just how monumental of a job the Thunder have in front of them.

“I feel humbled about the fact that we have a really big task in front of us after 11 years in Oklahoma City,” Presti said Thursday. “We have the second-best record in the NBA, we have the second-best net rating over that same period of time, and we’ve had a lot of success. I’m humbled about the fact that now we have to look at how we’re going to continue to chart a path that’s going to be able to meet those long-term standards, and that can be energizing but it also makes you realize, like it’s hard to do that in the NBA. So I’d say those three things are the things that I’ve thought about the most, and you can thank Vermont for that, as well.”

When Oklahoma City starts training camp next week, it will be the first time the roster will not feature the name Russell Westbrook, who was traded in the offseason to Houston.

Gone also is Paul George, who asked to be traded to the Los Angeles Clippers after just two years with the Thunder and one year into his max deal four-year contract.

Replacing Westbrook, George and Jerami Grant are veteran point guard Chris Paul, forward Danilo Gallinari and guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Along with Dennis Schroder and Steven Adams, they will make up the core of an entirely different looking Oklahoma City squad than the fans at the Chesapeake Energy Arena have seen before.

“Relative to the season, I think we’ve got a really interesting mix of not just new players and returning players but also veteran players and young players,” Presti said. “I’m excited and I think everybody is excited to watch and see how the team comes together through the year. I think this team has a significant amount of discovery within it in terms of just learning about the new players that we have and how they fit with the existing group. And I think it should be really exciting to see.”

Rebuilding wasn’t the original plan

Two weeks ago, Clippers coach Doc Rivers announced that it was known throughout the NBA that the Thunder were looking to tear down its team and start rebuilding after they were knocked out of the first round of the playoffs.

Presti refuted that statement.

“I don’t know the context in which that comment was made, and obviously no one asked us our opinion about it But no, I mean, I think at the end of the day, we all know that players like Paul George and Russell Westbrook are extremely hard to acquire in cities, in the smaller cities in the league, and when you have those players, you try to do everything you can to retain them,” Presti said. “But once Paul asked for the trade, I felt like we made the most of the situation to work for everybody, which allowed us to do it. I think the thought pattern just doesn’t really line up if you just look at it logically, probably that type of thing would have been done much earlier and it wouldn’t have resulted from a trade request from one of your best players.”

Thunder still stand by KD

Former Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant was once again critical of his former team in an article in the Wall Street Journal. He said the place felt venomous and he would never be associated with it.

Presti was asked about the comments, but wouldn’t take the bait.

“I would just say this: If there is anything that Kevin Durant ever, ever needed from me or from anyone here, it would be moment’s notice for that to happen,” Presti said. “I also think if you work with people for eight years like we did, he and I — he was 19 when he came into the NBA, I was 29. We both went through a lot of changes together, and I have nothing but positive things to say about him and his tenure here.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelanmce Content Provider

OU Notebook: Addition on defense?

By Michael Kinney

Even though Oklahoma had a bye last week, there was still news coming out of the Sooner’s camp. Most of it has to do with former stars in the program.

Oklahoma announced the unveiling of several new statues to honor former award winners. They include Heisman statues for Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray.

Mayfield’s statue is expected to be unveiled in the spring of 2020 while Murray’s will be hoisted up in the spring of 2021.

Mayfield and Murray will join the previous winners Billy Vessels, Steve Owens, Billy Sims, Jason White and Sam Bradford in Heisman Park.

Oklahoma also announced they will be paying tribute to the Selmon Brothers. Lee Roy, Lucious and Dewey are expected to have their statue put up in the fall of 2021.

Early starts

When Oklahoma hosts Texas Tech Saturday, it will be the start of Big 12 Conference play. Unfortunately for fans, it will also be the beginning of a string of early morning wakeup calls.

The Sooners and Red Raiders will face off at 11 a.m. at Memorial Stadium. Then on Oct. 5, OU will travel to Kansas to face the Jayhawks for another 11 a.m. kick-off.

As usual, OU and Texas will meet in Dallas Oct. 12 for the Red River Rivalry, which also features an 11 a.m. start time. And don’t be surprised if the Oct. 19th matchup with West Virginia in Norman is also scheduled for 11 a.m.

Position change?

One of the top recruits in the 2019 class was Trejan Bridges. Coming out of Texas, he was considered on the elite receivers in the country.

However, because of the depth at the position, he has been unable to see much action in his first three games with the Sooners.

During the bye week, the OU coaches began working him out at safety on defense, which was a position he played in high school as well.

However, coach Lincoln Riley has tried to downplay any thought of a permanent move.

“If we ever move somebody to a permanent position, I’m going to tell you guys and we haven’t done that,” Riley said. ““We haven’t made any moves. And I think that just about covers it.”

At 6-foot-1, 183 pounds, Bridges could bring some nice size to the Sooners defensive backfield, which in the past has been picked on by bigger wideouts.

“That was something that was brought up by him, something to take a look at and kind of go from there,” defensive coordinator Alex Grinch said. “Verdict’s still out. Obviously, he’s a quality player, quality kid. He’ll ultimately be a high-level player at Oklahoma in one capacity or another.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

OU heads into bye week still not content

(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

Yukon unable to slow down Lions

By Michael Kinney

MOORE— Yukon traveled to Moore Thursday night looking to pick up its first win of the season. After a bad loss to rival Mustang the week before, they had plenty of incentive to play a much cleaner game.

However, for the second week in a row, the Millers mistakes hurt their chances of pulling out a victory as they fell 49-35 to the Lions at Moore Stadium.

“It’s a little bit frustrating,” coach Jeremy Reed said. “I liked the effort in the second half. Gave up eight points in the second half. Kind of shot ourselves in the foot. A lot.”

With less than two minutes left in the game, Yukon was once again knocking on Moore’s door. Trailing by two touchdowns, they drove deep into MHS territory and were looking to make it a one score game.

From the six-yard line Caden Hernandez took a pitch from quarterback Levi Davis. Hernandez bullied his way down to the one-yard line giving the Millers a chance to score on the next play.

However, as the Lions were getting off Hernandez, he kicked at one of the MHS players, who fell over screaming as he held his groin. Yukon was assessed a personal foul and pushed back 15 yards.

“Until we decide to grow up and be mature, we’re going to continue to get beat because of our undisciplined,” Reed said. “I don’t know what to say other than that is a selfish act.

The next play, Davis just missed hitting Colton Phinny in the endzone for a touchdown. Two plays later, the Millers fumbled and the Lions recovered the loose ball before running out the clock.

Yukon finished the day with 498 total yards of offense. That included 463 yards on the ground.

Cameron Farmer led the charge with 128 yards on 14 carries. Hernandez added 101 yards while Landon Donoho rushed for 90.

However, the YHS defense gave up 575 total yards. MHS had a balanced attack of 267 yards on the ground and 297 through the air.

Moore quarterback Daniel Hishaw accounted for 297 yards on 10-of-15 passing. He also ran for another 91 yards. Wideout Brandon Girard caught 5 passes for 245 yards and two scores. Jayce Gardner tacked on 186 yards rushing on eight carries.

The start of the game was nearly a blur as both teams traded scores in the first quarter. Makari Slaughter who ran through a defender at the goalline to start the second quarter gave Yukon a 14-12 lead.

The Yukon defense couldn’t slow down the Moore offense in the first half. They picked up two more touchdowns and the Millers found themselves trailing 26-14 with six minutes left I the half.

It looked like the Lions were on the verge of going up by three touchdowns late in the half, but Nate Hahn came up with an interception in the endzone to end the threat.

Unfortunately for the Millers, that wasn’t the end of the scoring. Instead of just taking a knee and running out the clock, Yukon attempted to run its offense deep in their own territory. With under 10 seconds left Donoho fumbled for the second time. This time Moore was able to snag it out of the air and return it for a score. MHS held a 41-21 halftime advantage.

Yukon took the opening possession of the second half and drove 80 yards in 13 plays before Slaughter scored off the right side. The deficit was closed to 41-28.

After the Yukon defense forced Moore to punt, the Millers got the ball back on their own 3-yard line.

During the ensuing drive, Slaughter was gang tackled and laid motionless on the ground for more than 20 minutes.  He was put on a stretcher then carted off the field to an awaiting ambulance.

Without Slaughter, the Millers had to find others to step up. That included Isaiah Butler who caught the Miller’s first pass of the night two plays later.

Donoho finished the drive off with a short TD run and cut the to 41-35 with 7:15 left in the game.

“We had a chance,” Reed said. “But we have a long way to go.”

Moore v Yukon football

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

Sooners lock up Coyotes

By Michael Kinney

NORMAN –  After forcing only 11 turnovers in 2018, first-year defensive coordinator Alex Grinch talked about making that an emphasis this season for Oklahoma.  During the Sooners 70-14 won over South Dakota Saturday, it showed as they came away with three takeaways on the night.

“It was the No. 1 thing we talked about all week defensively,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said. “They were challenged every way possible and we responded.”

The beneficiary of the two was sophomore nickelback Brendan Radley-Hiles. He recovered a fumble and picked off an interception, which he returned for a touchdown.

“It just makes us hungrier. You get one you have to make sure you get another one the next game,” Radley-Hiles said. “I feel as if Coach Grinch emphasized it a lot this week in practice so we went out and made sure we got that for him.”

Despite the lopsided score, the Sooners were not completely happy with their performance. Quarterback Jalen Hurts, who seems to only settle for perfection, said the team still has work to do.

Yet, Oklahoma was still able to rack up 733 total yards. That includes 310 coming on the ground behind Rhamondre Stevenson (104), Kennedy Brooks (69), Trey Sermon (58 and Hurts (57).

“We did some really good things out there tonight and then there are some things that we really need to approve on,” Hurts said.

On the Sooners second possession, they drove 80 yards for the first points of the game. The drive included Hurts throwing to Lamb three times, including a 3-yard touchdown catch in the middle of the endzone.

It was Jeremiah Hall who reached the endzone on the Sooner’s next possession when he grabbed an 8- yard TD pass from Hurts.

Oklahoma didn’t allow the Coyotes’ offense to cross midfield until early in the second quarter. They made their way down to the Sooner’s 23 yard on their first successful drive of the game.

But Neville Gallimore forced a fumble and Radley-Hiles recovered it at the 13 to stop South Dakota’s momentum cold.

Touchdowns from Brooks and Charleston Rambo put OU ahead 28-0 at halftime.

Radley-Hiles started the second half with an interception, which he returned 30 yards for a touchdown.

“Everybody feels good for him, especially because he knows we all know he had a tough year last year,” DaShaun White said of Radley-Hiles. “Just how much he’s put into it this offseason, just seeing him get his chance and make big plays, it makes us all feel good.”

On the next possession, Trey Sermon scored and the Sooners led 42-0 with 11:03 left in the third quarter.

The rest of the night was just about Oklahoma getting in its younger, inexperienced players. Wideout Jaden Haselwood caught his first career touchdown while Stevenson broke open for a 75 TD run. Quarterback Spencer Rattler, wideouts Theo Wease and Trejan Bridges and guard Brey Walker also saw some time.

“I was like a proud father,” Lamb said. “I was watching and screaming all across the sidelines. they did a great job today. Obviously, they all touched the end zone when they needed to.”

Rattler, who was the top-ranked quarterback in the 2019 class didn’t disappoint. He was 4-for-4 for 50 yards and a touchdown pass.

“I was excited when I heard he was going out there,” Lamb said. “I actually gave him a talk. ‘Go do what you do.’ For him to go out there and showcase his potential – the sky’s the limit … All the hype he had going into college is true – he’s above that.”

Hurts finished the night with 259 yards and three touchdowns on 14-of-18 passing. Lamb caught six passes for 144 yards and a score.

Oklahoma (2-0) travels to UCLA next week as they look to improve to 3-0.

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

Hurts is on a mission

By Michael Kinney

NORMAN –  Late Sunday night, Jalen Hurts strode to the podium for his first-ever post-game press conference at Oklahoma. Wearing a grey suit vest, a purple and blue striped tie and a crisp white shirt with the sleeves rolled up, he looked like a CEO ready for a hostile takeover.

After being pushed to the bench last season at Alabama, Hurts came to Oklahoma on a mission.  In his first game with the Sooners, he helped engineer a 49-31 victory over Houston while breaking several offensive records in the process.

“I was in a situation or position where I am back to where I am supposed to be,” Hurts said. “I can’t say that I haven’t done it before maybe with a little rust on. But being out there with this team, this group, is very exciting and I enjoyed it a lot.”

Hurts threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns on 20-of-23 passing. He also added another 176 yards rushing and three rushing scores. He became the first Sooner to ever pass for at least 300 yards and rush for at least 150 yards in a game.

Hurt’s 508 yards of total offense were the most by a player in an OU debut. The old record was held by Baker Mayfield, who had 396 yards against Akron in 2015.

“He played good. He played good. Several things he could do better,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said. “I thought he handled the moment good. You could tell out there that he’d been in it, certainly. I’m sure he had some nerves, but he did a good job managing them. I thought he made good, sound decisions and managed the game well.”

OU totaled 686 yards of offense (354 rushing, 332 passing), the most in program history in a season opener. The Sooners also rushed for 300 yards and passed for 300 yards for the 12th time in program history

Hurts first drive a member of the Sooners couldn’t have gone any better. The entire drive took 70 and ended with him throwing a TD pass to fullback Jeremiah Hall.

Two possessions later, Hurts completed an 89-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. He then connected with CeeDee Lamb for a 45-yard touchdown strike to go up 21-0.

“I actually lost him. When I turned around, I didn’t know where he was, I just saw the ball in the air,” Lamb said. “He told me when we got to the sideline that he had to scoot into the pocket, and then that’s when I lost him, because I didn’t know where that was. He did a great job throwing the ball in the run and getting the ball where it needs to be.”

As impressive as Oklahoma’s offense looked, it was the defense that was turning heads. The Sooners didn’t give the Cougars any room to breathe as they attacked from all points on the field.

But that changed midway through the second quarter when Houston quarterback D’Eriq King started to rack up yards with his legs. That set up a pair of scores and OU led 21-10 at halftime.

If not for two missed field goals from sophomore Calum Sutherland, the Oklahoma lead could have been more.

The Sooners started the second half with a 56-yard touchdown catch by a speedy Charleston Rambo and another Hurts TD run to push the lead to 35-10.

That essentially put the game away. Houston was able to tack on three more touchdowns and cut the lead down to 12, but Oklahoma was never in any danger of giving the game away.

Houston racked up 408 total yards, with 255 of those coming after halftime.

“The biggest takeaway that I had from tonight is that we have to be more consistent. We did a lot of great things but, there’s definitely a lot of improvement that we need to do,” said Kenneth Murray, who had 13 tackles. I am excited to get back to work so that we can get all those things reworked and put on a great show.”

The Sooners will host South Dakota Saturday.

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider