One reason blue blood programs can stay atop college football is because on occasion when they are able to win games comfortably, the next generation of players is able to come in and play — and thus get practical experience.
Then it perpetuates itself. More good players produce more blowouts, and more blowouts produce more opportunities for young players to develop into good players.
It happened Saturday night in Lubbock, as Oklahoma built a 55-14 lead midway through the fourth quarter and, for much of the last seven minutes, the Sooners rolled out freshman after freshman.
“It’s a great point,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said Monday on the Big 12 coaches teleconference. “Being able to get those guys game experience and then also not necessarily just for the future, but even the very, very near future. You get a chance to see more guys and some guys rise up and you say, ‘Hey, maybe we should be giving this guy more snaps.’ So it keeps the competition healthy within your roster as well.”
The Sooners gave up two late touchdowns as Tech cut the score to 62-28 in the final minutes, and no one in Sooner Nation likes the other team scoring garbage-time touchdowns.
But there’s a delayed payoff for playing so many freshmen: they’ll be better football players whenever it’s actually their turn.
On defense alone during Tech’s final touchdown drive, six true freshmen got in the game: cornerbacks Joshua Eaton and D.J. Graham, safety Bryson Washington, linebackers Brynden Walker and Shane Whitter and defensive end Reggie Grimes.
Plenty of other youngsters got time late as well: redshirt freshman linebacker Jamal Morris, redshirt freshman safety Jeremiah Criddell, redshirt freshman noseguard Kori Roberson and sophomore defensive lineman Jordan Kelley all got snaps down the stretch.
And on offense, true freshman H-back Mikey Henderson, true freshman running back Seth McGowan, true freshman receiver Trevon West, true freshman receiver Brian Darby, true freshmen tackle Anton Harrison and true freshman guard Andrew Raym were on the field for the Sooners’ final touchdown drive, and true freshman quarterback Chandler Morris got in on the action.
“Yeah, I think it’s definitely a positive any time you can separate (on the scoreboard) — not just for development but also for morale, you know, a lot of guys getting an opportunity,” Riley said. “I thought there were several guys that did well.
“I thought the second o-line came in there and did some good things. I thought D.J. Graham at corner came in and did some good things. I thought the young d-line — Roberson, Jordan Kelley, Reggie Grimes, Brynden Walker — I thought some of those guys came in and did some really nice things as well.”
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