🏈 Riley: 'It feels a lot like every season at this point'
OU coach defends team's rocky start, plus more from his Tuesday news conference.
✌🏽Happy Wednesday, friends. Let’s ride.
🤔 Trivia: How many wins did Kansas State have over Oklahoma before Bill Snyder first took over as head coach in 1989? [Answer in footnotes]1
🏈 A familiar feeling
Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley doesn’t feel much different about this team to this point as he has in previous years.
The sixth-ranked Sooners have put together three underwhelming performances against FBS competition and yet to resemble the title-contending team hyped during the offseason.
It’s not a shock to Riley, whose past teams have experienced similar slow starts.
“Honestly, it feels a lot like every season at this point,” Riley said in response to a question from Tulsa World’s Guerin Emig on Tuesday. “People on the outside may disagree, but I’ve never felt good or comfortable about where we’re at four games into the season, ever, because you’re just never that good early.”
ESPN’s Bill Connelly offered this perspective, which supports Riley’s claim.
Ryan Aber @ryaberLincoln Riley says he’s never felt “good or comfortable” about where his team was four games into the season. Said he showed his players Tennessee and Army games to illustrate where offense is. Says again, “We’re closer than people think.” (continued on answer to @GuerinEmig Q)
OU has been remarkably good late in the season. The Sooners are undefeated in the month of November during Riley’s tenure. OU has also yet to lose in the Big 12 championship game, winning each contest since the event was reinstated in 2017.
The Sooners certainly didn’t look like a playoff team after an early-season loss to Iowa State in 2017 or a bizarre overtime win over Army a year later. OU definitely didn’t look like a team capable of winning the Big 12 and stomping Florida in the Cotton Bowl after a 1-2 start a season ago.
Perhaps a turnaround is coming. OU could certainly use it with Kansas State, Texas and TCU up next on the schedule.
A few other highlights from Riley’s presser:
Riley on receiver Marvin Mims’ role: “Marvin’s playing well. With receivers, it’s always up-and-down. That’s how it goes. You’re going to have a game where the ball doesn’t find you a whole lot. Then all of the sudden, it does. So, Marvin’s a tremendous player, and like a lot of our skill guys, we want to get the ball certainly in his hands.”
Riley on boos from crowd to Rattler: “I would say this regarding the quarterback position. If I've got guys in there that have thin skin or can't handle that, then I got the wrong guys in the room. And I have the right guys in the room.”
Riley if recruits asked about boos: “I don’t think it came up much. I mean, I think we have a passionate fan base, and I think it’s always important to remember for all of us, 90 percent of the people in there are diehard Sooners and they’re just like us.”
Riley on team’s support behind Rattler: “I would expect it. Our guys, we’ve got a tight-knit group. Our guys support each other. Our guys care about each other. So, I appreciate seeing it.”
💨 Defending Deuce Vaughn
Kansas State running back Deuce Vaughn scorched Oklahoma’s defense a season ago, posting 129 yards receiving on four catches and rushing for 35 yards and a touchdown.
He's off to a tremendous start to his sophomore season. He's second in the Big 12 in rushing touchdowns (5) and fourth in in rushing yards.
OU defensive coordinator Alex Grinch on if Vaughn is difficult to prepare for: “Well, he is. And I think as much as anything, we’ve got a tailback that again is a threat, if lined up in a slot receiver position. I think back to (Christian) McCaffrey in the Stanford days. You know, you just got to know where he is. It’s inappropriate not to.”
Vaughn on the Wildcats’ excitement level for Saturday: “We’re ready. Trying not to get too ahead of myself. It’s another week to go out there and play with my guys. It’s a great opportunity to play at home this week. So, we’re super excited.”
🤕 OU injury report
Freshman linebacker Danny Stutsman will be a “game-time decision” for the Sooners on Saturday, according to Riley. Stutsman suffered an arm injury during OU’s Week 2 win over Western Carolina.
Senior safety Delarrin Turner-Yell is questionable. The OU starter was injured during the Sooners’ game against West Virginia and could return as early as this week and as late as next.
Freshman receiver Cody Jackson is out this week due to a “medical issue.” Jackson has recorded 45 yards receiving via five catches.
🔎 Thompson ‘not likely’ to play
Kansas State coach Chris Klieman said starting quarterback Skylar Thompson isn’t likely to suit up against Oklahoma.
Kllieman’s words: “He's doing more things. Maybe late in the week we'll have a better understanding, but right now I would say no. It's going to be Will (Howard) and Jaren (Lewis). Our hope all along was the open week getting him a chance to be back for Iowa State. That's kind of the timetable. I don't think that'll change. He was doing more things, don't get me wrong. He's doing more things, but to play a game, I don't think so right now.”
What this means: Riley’s staff will have to be ready for Thompson, Howard and Lewis, which shouldn’t look too different from quarterback to quarterback. Athleticism runs in the Kansas State quarterback room, a quality of the Grinch that Riley raved about during his Tuesday media session.
⏰ On this day
Twenty years ago today, No. 3 Oklahoma held on to beat No. 9 Kansas State 38-37. The Sooners jumped out to a 35-14 lead midway through the third quarter before the Wildcats exploded for 23 points in the final 22:15 of regulation.
Eleven. The Sooners were 59-11-4 in their all-time series with the Wildcats following the 1988 season. OU is 17-10 against Kansas State since Snyder's arrival in '89.