Sooners dominate all-conference team

(Photo by Jay Beuchamp)

By Michael Kinney

During the 2018 season, Oklahoma produced one of the one explosiveness offenses in recent history. Averaging more than 50 points a game and 584 yards, they were nearly unstoppable.

So it was no surprise when the Big 12 Conference announced its all-conference team and awards, the offensive side was littered with Sooners.

Oklahoma racked up a league-high 11 All-Big 12 First- or Second Team selections, as the conference announced its football awards Wednesday. Selections were made by the league’s coaches, who were not permitted to vote for their own players.

In addition, coach Lincoln Riley, quarterback Kyler Murray, kicker Austin Seibert and offensive lineman Dru Samia each claimed individual honors.

Murray was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, the fourth consecutive such award for the Sooners and eighth overall. Seibert was voted the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year, Samia was one of three Big 12 Offensive Linemen of the Year and Riley was named the Big 12 Co-Coach of the Year.

Oklahoma’s seven first-team selections were all on offense. Along with Seibert, Murray and Samia, they included Marquise Brown, Grant Calcaterra, OU senior left guard Ben Powers and redshirt junior right tackle Cody Ford.

Murray, who was a unanimous All-Big 12 First Team selection, joins Baker Mayfield (2015 and 2017), Dede Westbrook (2016), Sam Bradford (2008), Jason White (2003 and 2004) and Josh Heupel (2000) as OU winners of the league’s top offensive player honor.

On Wednesday, Murray was named a finalist for the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award. That goes along with already being a finalist for the Maxwell Award and the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award.

Murray is the only player to ever average at least 300.0 passing yards (306.2) and at least 60 rushing yards (71.1) through college football’s regular season. The junior from Allen, Tx. leads the nation in yards per pass attempt (12.0) and yards per completion (17.0) and is while second in total touchdowns (48), passing TDs (37) and passing efficiency rating (206.8).

“When you play quarterback, your job is to deliver the ball from the pocket,” Murray said. “When stuff breaks down I have the ability to make something happen.”

Redshirt senior fullback Carson Meier, sophomore kick returner Tre Brown and sophomore linebacker Kenneth Murray earned All-Big 12 Second Team honors.

Kenneth Murray has started all 12 games at middle linebacker and leads the Sooners with 133 total tackles, OU’s highest single-season total in 10 years. He has also registered 11.5 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks, along with three QB hurries and a pair of pass breakups. He has tallied double-digit tackles in eight games this season, all in the last 10 outings, and averages 12.1 stops per contest in the last 11 contests.

According to OU, Oklahoma has placed at least four players on the All-Big 12 First Team every season since 2000.

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

More than a rivalry on the line for OU

By Michael Kinney

Ever since Oklahoma lost to Texas back in October, they have been in playoff mode. Knowing a second loss on their resume would all but eliminate them from contention for a spot in the College Football Playoffs, the Sooners have been in must-win mode.

After defeating West Virginia Friday, Oklahoma now has a chance to strengthen its case for a third trip to the playoffs by earning a trip to the Big 12 Championship. But also as important to fans, they get another shot at the Longhorns, who they will meet at 11 a.m. Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

However, don’t expect the players to express the same revenge sentiment. When they met with the media Monday, they said their focus was on other things.

“The fact that this is a championship game and all that is riding on it overshadows that in my opinion,” coach Lincoln Riley said. “I don’t take it lightly. I get the historical significance behind it. I know OU and Texas haven’t played each other twice in a season in a very long time.”

Oklahoma is going for a record fourth straight Big 2 Championship. According to linebacker Kenneth Murray, that is all the team is focused on.

“It’s just another opportunity for us as a team to achieve the goals we wanted to achieve, which was win the Big 12 Championship this year,” Murray said. “Obviously, trying to win it for the fourth time in a row is really important to us. Trying to do something that has never been done before. So that’s the main focus for us.”

But in order to do that, Oklahoma has to get past a Texas squad that would love nothing more than to play spoiler twice in the same season. If UT sweeps OU this season, that would be a feather in their hats that the Sooners would never be able to live down.

The last time the two teams met at the Red River Shootout, the Longhorns victory was the final game for former OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. Ruffin McNeil stepped in as the interim coordinator since then.

In those six games, the Sooners have given up 230 total points. That includes an average of 47 points over the past four games.

“We are 6-0 since the change,” Riley said. “That’s what matters most to me. We’ve had some games where we played really well. We’ve had some games where we haven’t played well at times. But we’ve made enough big plays to get it done. I think we’re progressing in a lot of ways, but we have to put it all together.”

One area that doesn’t seem to be much of a concern is Oklahoma’s offense, which is ranked No. 1 in the nation in several categories. That includes scoring offense (50.3 points), total offense (583 yards), yards per play (8.9) and yards per rush (7.0).

The Sooners are the only team in the nation with at least 30 rushing touchdowns and 30 passing TDs.

That may be one of the reasons Texas tried to bring in in former Kansas coach David Beatty to be a consultant to help the Longhorns prepare for OU.

“Coach Beatty can do what he wants to do,” Riley said smiling. “I don’t like the precedent of it, of being able to bring on somebody from the league in the same year. I don’t think that’s good for the conference, but it’s not against the rules and if they want to do it that’s fine.”

If the Sooners win Saturday and take the Big 12 title, the question will remain, will it be enough to put them into the playoffs. Only the CFP committee knows that.

But Riley doesn’t want his squad dwelling on it. They have other fish to fry first.

“Right now I’d ask them (CFP committee) if they understand how difficult it is to beat Texas because that’s all I’m worried about,” Riley said. “I get it. I get it’s going to be a conversation. It was the same thing last year. We knew that we had to win this game and most years, most teams are going to have to win their conference to get into the playoff. I know that’s not a surprise to anybody. I want my team’s focus right there.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

It’s all on the line against WVU

By Michael Kinney

Oklahoma is not trying to downplay the importance of Friday night game at West Virginia. They know exactly what is on the line, which is a trip to the Big 12 Championship and a possible spot in the College Football Playoffs.

“It’s always different playing a physical game then wake up and practice the next day,” safety Robert Barnes said. “We all know what’s at stake here. We all know what we have to do to come out on top in this game. Everybody woke up yesterday with the right attitude, came focused and ready to go.”

Tight end Grant Calcaterra agrees with Barnes.

“There is a lot of pressure around the game,” Calcaterra said. “Obviously, it’s high stakes, two of the better team in the Big 12. We know that we need to win this game if we want to accomplish the rest of our goals. I think today we were all a little more jacked up during practice.”

Since joining the Big 12 in 2012 Oklahoma has amassed a 6-0 record against WVU. The Sooners have reached the 44-point mark in at least five of those contests.

So when linebacker Curtis Bolton was asked about the intensity of the rivalry, he had a hard time giving it that distinction.

“I wouldn’t call it a rivalry. But they get rowdy over there. There’s not much to do in West V. I just know last time I was there their fans talked mess more than anybody else. Their players are rowdy. It’s a smash mouth football game. I like those. I like when teams come out rough. I’m just excited for those game. They talk a lot. They’ve got a good squad.”

While the record between the two teams doesn’t indicate a rivalry, the attitudes of the players do.

“I think they have a chip on their shoulder, just like we do,” Calcaterra said. “We both play hard. They’re a good team, we’re a good team. For the most part, we always battle it out. It’s kind of an unspoken rivalry, maybe.”

“I know last year, there is always somebody in pregame that we’re always butting heads with,” Barnes said. “Just doing their little taunting or whatever before the games. This year I feel like both teams have a lot on the line. I know it’s going to be a physical matchup.”

The Oklahoma defense took a lot of heat after their 55-40 win over Kansas Saturday. Most of that was due to the poor tackling display they put on.

“I thought we were moving in the right direction in that aspect of the game,” Bolton said. “We came out then and didn’t tackle well. That goes back to what we have to do during the week. Now we’re focusing on our tackling, not that we didn’t last week or the weeks before that, but that wasn’t the biggest issue that we needed to work on. Obviously, after last week, it’s still an issue we need to work on.”

Despite a pair of poor defensive outings, Barnes believes his unit can improve.

“For me, I know the guys I’m playing with,” Barnes said. “I grinded with these guys all summer, all fall camp and all that. So I’m very confident that when we step out there it’s going to be more physical, but we’re going to make those plays. Everybody on that field will do their job.”

High scoring affair

Oklahoma leads the nation in total offense with 576 yards per game and 71 total touchdowns. West Virginia is No. 10 with 502 ypg and 51 TDs. But wideout CeeDee Lamb knows how important the other side of the ball will be in determining who wins.

“We have to depend on our defense at some point,” Lamb said. “We know what we have in here and we’re a brotherhood. As far as us going out there and putting up numbers, we’re going to do what we have to do as far as scoring. And we’re just going to have to depend on our defense.”

 

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

Struggles continue for OU despite double-digt victory

 

By Michael Kinney

NORMAN– On Saturday Oklahoma won it’s 10th game of the season with a 55-40 victory over Kansas. It was the 17th time since 2000 that the program has reached double-digit victories in a season, which leads the nation in that time span.

However, the mood of the fans, players and coaches coming out of Memorial Stadium was far from celebratory.  Once again it was the Sooner’s defense that garnered most of the attention as they allowed the Jayhawks to run up and down the field.

“Defensively, we didn’t tackle at all the whole night and that’s really the story. I thought our pass defense was much improved,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said. “It was something we spent a lot of time on, certainly after the way we played in that fashion the week before. We had some good things there as far as coverage, but clearly, we weren’t good on the run game and it was disappointing because  we’ve really done a good job against the run all season.”

The futility of the Kansas offense during the past decade is the biggest sign of how bad the Oklahoma defense looked Saturday.

Since 2015 Kansas has only scored more than 40 points twice. Both came in wins against non-conference teams. Their output against the Sooners is the most they have scored against a Big 12 team since beating Colorado 52-45 in 2010.

“I take it very personally. I don’t think a team should get over 50 yards on us if it was up to me,” safety Robert Barnes said. “I just think as a unit we just have to start playing more physical and be more fundamental. It starts in practice. It starts on Monday through Friday. Just continuing to work on tackling. It’s a long season and there’s a lot of inquiries that happen throughout a season. So it’s not like in practice we can do full-tackling drills. But tackling is a mentality If you train that mentality all week, when you come out on Saturday, it won’t be an issue.”

Run defense disappeared

The Jayhawks posted 348 rushing yards on the night. That included Pooka Williams rushing for 252 yards on only 15 carries. That is a 16.8 Yards per carry average.

We have guys in position. We tell them to not worry about mistakes. All mistakes are mine, so don’t hesitate. Go make it,” defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill said. “We tackle every day, so we’ll just continue to do that and continue to work hard. We’ll watch the film and see what angles would help, but look from all different angles on that too. Ready to get back to work and watch the film and fix what we’ve got to fix to get ready for next week.”

Tackling still at the heart of the problem

The OU coaches and players all said tackling is still the issue that has been causing them the most issues.

“We’ve had games where we tackled really well,” Riley said., “I think we have guys that can tackle well. Tackling is just so many things. It’s being in position, knowing where you help is. It all comes down to playing great team defense and when you do you put yourself in position to make those plays and you have got to go make them. The group I watched tonight was too hesitant. I thought we were in position a lot and we have to go. We have to trigger and go play confident and go play explosive. Go play to make the play as opposed to just trying to keep them from making a play. I felt we were more on our heels than we need to be. Certainly, we have to be more aggressive and as coaches, we have to find a way to get there out of them.”

According to defensive end Kenneth Mann, bad tackling can cause a snowball effect.

“I think it can,” Mann said. “ Things like that can but we just have to gather the troops and get back together. We need to make the right moves.  Everybody needs to settle down when things get going like that and continue to tackle and get guys down.”

 

Last one standing

On the first offensive series of the game, Oklahoma leading rusher Trey Sermon left the game with an injury. That left redshirt freshman Kennedy Brooks as the only healthy tailback for the Sooners.

Brooks carried the rock 25 times for 175 yards and two touchdowns as he played the majority of the game.

“He did a great job, doing it by himself,” quarterback Kyler Murray said. “He’s been doing it since he got his chance earlier in the season. We’re going to need him going forward and I’m sure he’ll continue to run well.”

Brooks said he just had to be ready for his moment when his number was called.

“All the guys in the room helped me get to this point,” Brooks said. “I couldn’t do it without them. Everybody just being there and telling me I can do it. Just keeping my confidence up. Going through practice, seeing what I can do, then you’re in the game and you’re actually doing. I give all my glory to God, my teammates second and believing in myself that I could do it. Being in this position is nothing new. We just go out there and do the best we can to help the team win.”

Brooks pointed out his offensive line especially.

“They did amazing,” Brooks said. “We have the best offensive line in the country. I am so happy I can run behind them. They made my job so much easier.”

The best?

Tackle Cody Ford was asked if OU had the best offensive line in college football. Ford kept his answer pretty simple.

“Yes.”

Scoring machine

The Sooners 55 points is their third highest output of the season. They also tallied 566 total yards (294 rush, 272 pass)

Despite that, quarterback Kyler Murray wasn’t too impressed. Even with his five touchdowns (3 rushing, 2 passing), it was not close to what he expects from the offense in general.

“It wasn’t bad,” Murray said. “I thought we moved the ball well. I would say personally, a little disappointed. It wasn’t the best game, but it got the job done. We put up 55 points, so I guess you could say it was a good day.”

Except for the two turnovers.

“That’s something we don’t want to do, put the ball in other people’s hands,” Murray said. “We have actually done a good job with that all season, taking care of the ball. Tonight it got away from us a little bit.”

Heisman Worthy

Wideout Marquise Brown, who had 6 catches for 64 yards, said Murray is the clear Heisman frontrunner.

“I just don’t feel like nobody is playing better football than him, to be honest,” Brown said. “He’s throwing it, running it. He’s really the most valuable player for this team. I feel like he should be the Heisman.”

Big game on the horizon

With West Virginia losing to Oklahoma State earlier in the day, it took a little luster off of next week’s matchup with the Mountaineers. Yet, the game is still a big contest for the Sooners as they look to lock up a spot In the Big 12 Championship.

Barnes knows his team has to show an element the defense has shown much of the year if they are going to win.

“I would say from the first play be the most physical team out there,” Barnes said. “From offense and defense, but especially from the defensive standpoint. When you’re going into a hostile atmosphere, an away game, especially at this caliber, from the first play we need physicality across the board.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

Story first ran in The Yukon Review

 

Defense still has questions to answer for OU

By Michael Kinney

Despite the last two outings for the Oklahoma defense, coordinator Ruffin McNeill said his unit will continue to work on the foundations of what he believes makes a great defense. As they take on Kansas Saturday night, the Sooners plan to keep working on the fundamentals.

“We are going to stay with what I think they need right now,” Ruffin McNeil said. “Still preaching fantastic effort. We see it like we want it in spots. Got to continue pressing that. Again, fundamental type things. Since this thing happened, we’ve emphasized that. That will continue… Just keep playing. Something bad happens, just keep playing. Something great happens, keep playing. That part hasn’t changed.”

Lack of turnovers is still a problem for Oklahoma as it heads into its final two games of the season. However, linebacker Curtis Bolton has a simple solution.

“Violent at the point of attack,” Bolton said. “Not just being satisfied with tackling the dude, being satisfied with him going backward. And just cashing in on all these balls we get our hands on. We get our hands on way too many balls that don’t go our way. I know I get on the jugs. The jugs are in full effect. We have to do a better job of getting turnovers.”

While Bolton wants to see his unit tackle more violently, he also knows they can’t lose sight of making sure they just get the ball-carrier down.

“This is the Big 12. It’s an offensive conference. That’s no secret. Some of the most shifty guys in the country come here,” Bolton said. “At the end of the day, that’s not an excuse. You line up on defense, your job is to stop the guy from getting into the end zone. It makes it a little tougher when guys are as shifty as they are like we have in this conference. You have to find a balance between securing the tackling violently. The tackling violently part is more for the second and third guy there. The first guy I’m just worried about getting the tackle.”

During Bedlam, many fans and media members took notice of how far the OU defensive backs were playing off the line of scrimmage and the receiver. It’s something that has been pointed out on the OU defense for the past several seasons. McNeill was asked about this tactic.

“A lot of times you can determine the routes,” McNeill said. “If you’re in press, most of the time you’re going to get a deep fade or post. We know that. If you are off a lot of times you can determine what routes. A stop route, an out cut, those type of things. We have times where we will tighten down and be in man. TO the normal eye, you wouldn’t notice it. But you can play off and be in man coverage.”

Redzone inefficiency

In the redzone opposing offenses have scored 35 times once inside the OU redzone. Of those, 30 have been touchdowns. What does OU need to do to improve those numbers?

“Just staying gap sound. Not getting too excited. I know I get too excited. Get too crowded up at the line and when they run off-tackle and stuff, I get cut off,” Bolton said. “I watched the film from Saturday and I wish I could have all those goal line plays back. And like I said with the turnovers, just being more violent at the point of attack. Not being satisfied with a tackle.”

All-out effort

Cornerback Parnell Motley was asked about an appearance of a lack of effort at times by the defense.

“Effort is every play. People want to B.S. at times but is all about just giving effort. To your full potential. Effort will take us a long way,” Motley said. “It might not put us in the right spot all the time, but effort puts us where we want to be. Effort plays a big role in football and everything. Effort gives us a lot. It’s kind of odd when you see it from game 1 to game 10. Kind of pictured it evolving and getting better. Every week we kind of hit or miss with the effort. At the end of the day, we keep preaching it and keep fighting and keep practicing.”

Over before he knew it

Saturday will be the final home game for offensive lineman Dru Samia.

“There was a point in the season where it felt like this was taking forever,” Dru Samai said. “But, now that we’re here, it’s a cliché, but it just flew by so fast. Just going to enjoy these last few games as much as I can.”

College career coming to an end

It took him until his senior year for Bolton to crack the starting lineup and show what he can do. But has taken advantage of every opportunity since finally getting his shot.

“I feel like I was built for this. I feel like my talent was never the reason I wasn’t on the field. There was a lot of stuff I had to work on. But there was just a lot of outside stuff. I’m just glad I got on the field in my last season and showed what I can do. If you ask anybody who’s been around, it’s not a surprise I’m playing like this. It’s been a blessing. Got to thank the man of stairs for letting me stay healthy long enough show it.”

 

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Producer

 

Senior night on tap at Oklahoma

 

By Michael Kinney

The end of the college football regular season is fast approaching. Oklahoma has just two games left on its schedule before the postseason arrives.

The Sooners final home game of the year is set for 6:30 p.m. Saturday when they take on the struggling Kansas Jayhawks, who have already fired their head coach but are having him coach out the string.

Several OU seniors will be playing their final games at Memorial Stadium Saturday. One of those is fullback Carson Meier, who knows the Senior Night proceedings will be an emotional time for him.

“It’s going to be emotional. I’ll try and hide it the best I can,” Meier said. “But at some point, in that game, whether it’s before it starts or when it’s over, it’s going to hit me that it’s my last time playing on Owen Field in front of all those incredible fans out there. It’s going to be tough. I’m looking forward to it, but it’s going to be tough for me.”

Meier had to wait until his senior season before he was able to get on the field and produce after playing behind tight ends and fullbacks who went onto play in the NFL. But the Tulsa native said it was worth the wait.

“As a kid that’s something you dream about every being from Oklahoma,” Meier said. “Getting to play out there in front of 85,000. The time has finally come for me. It’s my last one. I’m going to, make the most of it and savor every minute. It’s been a fun year for me. I’m glad that it has played out for me like it has so far.”

Meier said he was able to wait for his moment to come because of his dad had his back.

“He’s helped me out a lot. He went through the process a little bit differently, playing basketball at Tulsa. So he’s really been there for me all along the way. It’s been hard not playing as much as I wanted to in the past. Being behind a guy that’s as good as Demitri (Flowers) was, just kind of sat back and patiently waited for my turn, my chance. My dad has been there with me the whole time saying just keep putting in the extra hours, put your head down, don’t complain, just go to work, your time will come.”

With just two games left in the regular season, the Sooners offense high rolling. They are currently ranked No. 9 in the FBS in passing yards per game (319.7), ninth in rushing (257.4) and second in scoring (49.0).

However, wide receiver CeeDee Lamb is not satisfied.

 “I feel like we haven’t hit our peak yet. We still have room to grow,” Lamb said. “To be honest, offense and defense, we have mental breakdowns. We have to tighten that up and have to get going We just have to just focus on the controllables, as coach Ruff says. He emphasizes that so much. Just depend on one another and get going. That’s all we can do. We only have each other at this point.”

The Sooners use of the fullback is one of the reasons they are ranked as high as they are in both rushing and passing.

“It’s weird hearing my name as a fullback. I consider myself more of a tight end. But that’s what I am, a fullback,” Meier said. “We use it a little differently around here. It’s not like a true fullback like it was back in the day. Playing fullback you have to know every position on the field. You have to know receiver, fullback, runningback, really everything. It’s different.”

The 11 semifinalists for the 2018 Biletnikoff Award were announced Monday, but Lamb’s name was not on the list. However, teammate Marquise Brown was one of them with his 53 receptions and 956 yards.

“I’m happy. He deserves it. He’s been grinding all season, all summer. Every time we had off, we’re grinding, he’s grinding,” Lamb said. “Everything that he’s done so far up to this point is paying off. I’m so happy for him. He’s a very calm person. He’s going to be himself on or off the field. He’s goofy, he’s always laughing, He’s a great person to be around.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

Complete Bedlam once again

By Michael Kinney

The Oklahoma State offense had gone up and down the field on Oklahoma the entire day. That included in the final three minutes when quarterback Taylor Cornelius led the Pokes down to the field for a touchdown with just 1:03 left in the game to close the gap to 48-47.

Instead of going for the game-tying extra point, coach Mike Gundy decided to go for the potential win with a 2-point conversion. The pass play went right at cornerback Tre Brown, who had Tylan Wallace (10 catches, 220 yards) locked up on the outside. Brown came away with the deflection to help seal 48-47 victory victory.

“There was a lot going through my head,” Brown said. “Like we just won the game and I was able to do something about that. It was really crazy.”

Personal moment

Right before the 2-point conversion, Brown said he had a silent prayer with his mother, who passed away in October.

“I talked to my mom. I felt like my mom was talking to me,” Brown said. “She said this is what you’re made of. This is what you do best. I’ve had moments like these in my high school career. I reminded myself that times like these happen so I got to show up. I can just hear my mom in my head talking to me. I was like you’re right. I’ve got to go make this play. And sure enough, it happened.”

Gundy going for the win

“As the game was going back and forth, being on the road and struggling stopping them, it was probably the best thing,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said. “We had a shot at it, just didn’t make a good throw.”

Defensive improvement

For two weeks after coach Ruffin McNeill took over as the defensive coordinator, it looked like Oklahoma had started to turn the corner. But in the past two games against Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, the Sooners have seemingly regressed back to their previous form.

“You always look back and see how I can do better,” McNeill said. “Not the kids, but what could I have done better to help them? In November, you’ve got to scrap. I know the last two weeks have been scraps and fights. Having been in it for a while, I don’t ever take it lightly.”

Taking it week by week

Coach Lincoln Riley was asked about the performance of the defense since McNeill took over.

“It’s a week-in, week-out deal right now,” Riley said. “We’re in the middle of it, so I’m not sitting back and looking at the previous three or four games right now. It’s looking at the weeks that we’re having and looking at the way that we’re playing and just win and be at your very best the next week. We’re we at our best tonight? No.”

Bend and break

Against the Cowboys, OU allowed 640 total yards. That includes 501 through the air by quarterback Taylor Cornelius.

But it wasn’t the yards that had the defenders unhappy, it was their inability to make plays.

“I’m not satisfied. I’m not happy with how we played. As a defense, I think we played good in spurts. But we just give up too many big plays,” Curtis Bolton said. “We’ve got to get turnovers, we’ve got to get our hands on the ball. When we get on the field, we’ve got to work on three and outs. We just have to get off the field on third downs. I think we can do that. I have faith in us. We have a lot of talent on this defense and we don’t ever play up to our talent and it’s really frustrating.”

Running attack takes over

Oklahoma rushed for 349 yards on the night. Kennedy Brooks led the charge with 165 yards on 15 carries while Tre Sermon added 125 yards on 16 carries. It’s the second straight week and the third time this season OU has had a pair of runners go over the 100-yard mark in the same game.

“It means that they trust us to get the job done,” Brooks said. “We go out there and just dominate and do what we do and positive things happen. We both balled out and I’m pretty proud of it.”

Murray causing issues

For Kyler Murray, his 21-of-29 passing for 349 yards was not best stat game by far. But he still caused the OSU defense a myriad of problems.

“The issue you have is that you can’t contain him,” Gundy said. “He buys so much time and bounces back there, so you really have to asses it on ‘Ok, I covered for three, and a half seconds, was I in decent position and in the right spot’ Gundy said of his defensive backs. “But when you get up around six seconds, it’s pretty tough to cover. He makes a lot of things happen and he’s faster live than he is on TV.”

Got his groove back

After being slowed down the past three games by defenses and an injury, Marquise Brown made his presence felt in a big way. He hauled in eight catches for 142 yards and one touchdown. That included a 51 yarder.

“We line up and I had a double on me,” Brown said. “Coach did a great job moving me and putting me in different spots, motioning me around. Once we did see the one on one coverage, Kyler (Murray) made a great check and we made a play.”

Did run game force OSU out of normal pass defense?

“I think so. We were running the ball great and they started to come down a little bit,” Brown said. “Just that one opportunity, you just have to make the best of it.”

Back in the action

Linebacker Caleb Kelly made his first start of the season and found himself playing a big role in the Sooners win Saturday. He ended the night with seven tackles, which was tied for third behind Kenneth Murray (11) and Bolton (8).

“It was fun,” Kelly said. “Getting to get to go play again with my brothers. I didn’t feel like such an outsider. I just got to be with them. It just felt comfortable to be back with them.”

Perfect view

Kelly got to see Brown’s game-saving play up close and personal.

“For me personally, I set the edge. I began the rush once I saw it was a pass,” Kelly said.” The ball came right by me and I almost got it. Then I just turned around and saw that TB had a good break and hit him right in his hands. Then it was a PBU and it was all good. Just turned up and just started celebrating. And everybody just took off so I took off with them. It was funny.”

Record Setter

Kicker Austin Seibert set the Oklahoma scoring record and tied the Big 12 scoring mark on a 21-yard field goal in the second quarter. He then broke the Big 12 mark with an extra point o the next drive. He now has 458 career points. He is fifth among kickers all-time in scoring.

“I really didn’t know when I set it,” Seibert said. “I was thinking is that the one. Then they announced it and the crowd went pretty wild. That was pretty cool. I got to see that and take all that in. So that was really cool. It’s very special, I’ll remember that forever. But at the end of the day, we’ve still got two more games and we’re still going for that Big 12 Championship and a playoff run.”

Cornerback connection

After Brown made his pass deflection, he and cornerback Parnell Motley sprinted down the field together. For Brown, that moment meant a lot because of what the two have been through this year.

“This is a really special moment for us. We’ve both had our ups and downs,” Brown said. “There were times when we’ve been discouraged. There was a time we thought it was the end of the world. I always talk to Parnell about things. When he’s down and stuff, keep your head up. You never know what’s going to happen. You can make a play at the end and everybody has forgot about the play you didn’t make. After I made that play, we just had that special moment. Like, wow, this is what we talked about.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

 

OU notebook: Bedlam trash talk has defense ready

By Michael Kinney

Bedlam is always contentious. No matter how well or bad of a season either team is having, whenever Oklahoma and Oklahoma State face off, emotions tend to flare up.

That has not changed this year, except the Cowboys Justice Hill decided to get the fireworks started early when he posted a photo on his Instagram account labeling OU defenders as ‘littleboys’ and ‘kids.’

This obviously caught the attention of the Oklahoma defense.

“We will do our talking on the field,” OU safety Robert Barnes said. “He’s a great running back. But that’s all I got to say. We’ll do our talking on the field. It’s something we all saw because we live in such a social media heavy world. People have been tagging us all day in the picture like we haven’t already seen it. It’s definitely a constant reminder. Every hour I think I was getting tagged in the picture.”

Sooners plan to respond

” I feel like it’s a respect factor between both teams,” Barnes said. “But anytime you have someone who goes to social media and that’s their way of (communicating) what they want to portray, no matter what at the end of the day they have to see us at 2:30 p.m. on the field.”

However, on Thursday, linebacker Curtis Bolton took to twitter respond to Hill’s posts.

“If we kids I’m the playground bully,” Bolton posted.

Homegrown talent

For cornerback Tre Brown, Bedlam means a little something different than most of the players on the squad. He is one of 29 players who played their high school ball in the state of Oklahoma.

Being from Tulsa Union and growing up watching the series, he has always dreamed about playing in the game.

“I was always going for OU growing up,” Brown said. “And to finally get to play in this game against them and to be able to make an impact, so this game is really big for me personally.”

Memorable Bedlam

The Bedlam game that stands out to Brown growing up, however, didn’t have a happy ending for the Sooners.

“I want to say the one where we lost was pretty big (2011),” Brown said. “That was when they won the Big 12 Championship. That stood out to me, watching them storm the field. You rarely see that. They took pride in that beating us for the first time (since 2002). That really stuck with me because you don’t really see that.”

Keeping confident

During the Sooners win over Texas Tech, cornerback Parnell Motley had a tough night. At one point the cameras showed him on the bench with quarterback Kyler Murray trying to encourage him and keep his confidence up.

Motley said the will to fight is the key to being able to go back out on the field after giving up a big play.

“Man, at the end of the day it’s football and you have to keep fighting,” Motley said. “You have to keep digging deep and don’t let the little things get the best of you. There is a whole lot of ball game to prove yourself. It just comes with it. It’s a game of inches. Just keep playing and keep playing to the best of your ability. I try not to let it put me down and keep energizing. Just keep talking to myself and keep things going.”

Facing adversity

Coach Ruffin McNeil likes the way Motley has responded to the adversity he has faced on the field and how he has responded to being coached.

“Parnell is one of those guys I know exactly where he comes from. I know exactly where his high school is,” McNeill said. “I know exactly where his neighborhood is because I recruited the area for years. SO he is a kid that will not quit, he’ll keep fighting. Believing in a young man as adults I believe is very important. How do you handle kids? I handle them this way. How do I want somebody handling my child? Do I push them? Yes. Do I have tough love? Yes. But also coaching and teaching is a part of it too. Everything is about life learning. I believe in life you’re going to have tough times. What happens to you is 10 percent of it and how you handle it is 90 percent. Where is a better place to learn it than team sports?”

Emergence of Barnes

Since the Sooners bye week, the player who has seen their game improve the most has been Barnes. It culminated last week with his interception and 100-yard return during the Red Raiders 2-point conversion.

“I don’t think there is anything particular that changed. Just my mentality kind of changed. I kind of just knew things I wanted to do, what I needed to focus on. I started focusing in on those things. Just being a leader on the field, not worrying about injuries, just going out there playing. God had been blessing me with getting through Fall Camp and just staying connected with my faith. And through all that just continue to work on tackling and covering, just the common things of being a DB (defensive back).”

More on ‘The play’

“It definitely builds confidence when you make a play like that,” Barnes said. “Just to be comfortable out there on the field. To be able to make that read, to jump that play. It felt good. The best part was just seeing my brother T (Tre Brown), be with me right there. For everything we had gone through in the past few weeks with each other. Just to see him ride for me all the way down the field like that was special.”

Defending the bubble screen

One of Oklahoma State’s foundation plays is the bubble screen to its wide receivers. The Sooners know they will see a heavy dose of it Saturday. That means the Oklahoma cornerbacks are going to have to be physical and sure tacklers.

“That is a part of the game today,” cornerback Tre Norwood said. “RPOs, quick game, and bubble screens. That comes with getting off blocks, making tackles. You have to have to have that mindset that the dude in front of you can’t block you. You have to get off the block and make the plays.”

Game changers

Even though Motley has given up some big plays to opposing offenses, he has also made his share for Oklahoma. He said that is something he has been trying to do more of this season.

“Oh yeah, I’m definitely looking for those. I’m just trying to change the ball game, make some plays. I am just trying to be the athlete that I am. We need to make more plays, especially in the back end.”

News & Notes: Redshirt senior offensive lineman Jonathan Alvarez has retired from football due to injuries…Kyler Murray was named a semifinalist  for the Davey O’Brien Award, given to the nation’s top quarterback. He was already named a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award, as well.

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

Sooners set for Bedlam

 

By Michael Kinney

Oklahoma had a tough time Saturday. The 51-46 victory over Texas Tech was not a work of art and not the teams best effort, according to coach Lincoln Riley.

“It’s a little bittersweet,” Riley said. “But it’s mostly great because wins are hard. But we have to play cleaner, and we have to play better going forward.”

Oklahoma racked up 10 penalties for 113 yards against Texas Tech. While that is the most they have put together all season, the players still see it as a trend they need to nip in the bud at some point.

“We defiantly killed ourselves a little bit. I think that is something we’ve done a little bit of all season that’s kind of stopped us,” OU quarterback Kyler Murray said. “I don’t think a lot of teams can stop us for four quarters. But when we make dumb penalties and hurt ourselves obviously, it can hurt the drive. There is a fine line between being physical, and you don’t want to tell your team not to be physical. It’s a physical game. We have to play with that mindset of being physical, being the most physical team on the field. But at the same time, we made a couple of penalties on Saturday that we can’t make going forward.”

Cody Ford was one of the Sooners who was handed an unsportsmanlike penalty Saturday. He was asked if he knows where the line is of being overly physical after the whistle.

“I know where the line is,” Ford said. “I know where the edge is. I definitely crossed it. Every play I take is aggressive in between the whistle. Stopping at the edge is something I need to work on more. It just goes back to coach Riley saying stay poised no matter what happens.”

Offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh said his players have to have better self-control.

“There’s a lot of things that go on out there that people can’t see, and yes, but you still have to control your emotions,” Bedenbaugh said. “Luckily, it didn’t hurt us, but yeah, we’ve got to control our emotions better. Like I said, most of the time we do, but those couple times a game, it just can’t happen, and it’s just about the individual controlling themselves. No matter what the other guy does, no matter what he says, no matter what he does, you can’t retaliate.”

Waiting for his opportunity

Despite the Sooners scoring more than 50 points in three straight games, wideout Marquis Brown has been held relatively quiet. He had five catches for 76 yards against Texas Tech. Against Kansas State and TCU he combined for 7 receptions and 63 yards.

“I get a lot of rolled coverage, but that just opens up a lot of stuff for my teammates,” Brown said. “When they do that, I just know somebody else is going to be open. It’s like I know I won’t have that many opportunities, but when the opportunity comes, I need to make a play.”

Of the 20 passes Kyler Murray completed Saturday, he spread them around to seven different receivers. That ability to spread the ball around has become a constant theme for Murray and he was asked if that has more to do with his confidence in the receivers or the system. “A little bit of both. But more of just trusting the system, trusting my reads,” Murray said. “Our receiver room is pretty good, so we have a good rotation. I don’t really notice who is in the game sometimes. Sometimes I’m just going through my reads and just throwing it to the guys who are open.”

The Sooners now will face Oklahoma State at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium. While the Pokes have struggled, they do have some areas that can provide problems.

OSU’s Jordan Brailford is fourth in the nation with 9.0 sacks. As a team, the Cowboys lead the nation with 33 sacks.

“They definitely have a good d-line, but we’re not going to back down from them just because of stats or because of what people say about them,” Ford said. “But we know what we’re going to get and they know what they’re going to get.”

Bedlam

Murray recounted how he was recruited by Oklahoma State when he was coming out of high school. He was asked how did he like the experience.

“I’m not a fan of Stillwater,” was all Murray said.

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

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