Lincoln Log: Other Notes from Riley's Presser
John. E. Hoover
The official gamebook from Saturday’s 48-0 win over Missouri State indicated that Oklahoma only suited up seven offensive linemen.
That was an error, a “glitch,” an OU spokesman said Tuesday.
The original participation chart distributed to media after the game showed that the five starters — Adrian Ealy, Marquis Hayes, Creed Humphrey, Tyrese Robinson and Erik Swenson — were later supplemented by Ian McIver (for Humphrey at center) and Brey Walker (for Robinson).
But the book was corrected to reflect that true freshman Noah Nelson, redshirt freshman Marcus Alexander and former transfer Dalton Bishop also got in at offensive line.
Still, much of the two-deep — including projected starter Anton Harrison and backup Stacey Wilkins at left tackle — was held out either for positive COVID-19 tests or contact tracing that put them in the wrong crowd.
“Obviously we want more people out there, for sure,” Humphrey said Tuesday. “That’s just the world we are living in right now. You never know who is going to get it. We’re going through a pandemic. People can be doing all the right things off the field and they can still get this no matter what. Obviously it’s disappointing to have those guys not play the first game but it’s something we have to go through this year.”
The Big 12’s threshold to play a game before considering postponement is seven offensive linemen, but OU was safe. Head coach Lincoln Riley said offensive line was one of the positions that made Saturday’s game “hang in the balance,” according to his postgame assessment.
“It was one of them,” he said. “We had concerns at several positions just with the number of guys that were out and then at that point, we still had one more test (Friday) upcoming, so the unpredictability of that, you're just trying to look at it from all sides. We had several positions of concern but that was certainly one of them, yes.”
No Murray yet: The Sooners might have another available — and capable body — ready to go if the NCAA will ever grant the transfer waiver of UCLA transfer Chris Murray.
Murray joined the team in the spring as a former starter for the Bruins and a junior at OU, but he’s not been given the green light to play yet.
“Like a lot of things we have with the NCAA right now,” Riley said, “it’s still in process.”
That’s a long time: Backup kicker Stephen Johnson played a decoy role in the Kansas State game last year on the Sooners’ final (and controversial) onside kick attempt.
That Johnson’s only play in 2019, and he didn’t play at all in 2018 after transferring from Blinn College in Texas.
“They counted it up,” Riley said. “It had been, like, 1,062 days since he’s (kicked) in an actual game. And he goes out and is Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week. That was cool for him.”
Riley admires the junior from Arlington, TX, for staying ready behind a kicker that might have produced the greatest single season in college football history last year in Gabe Brkic.
“No, we’ve got some good competition in that room right now. Stephen came in and did a tremendous job,” Riley said. “He also had a real nice team award that he won. He’s been a great story. Zach (Schmidt) came in and did a tremendous job as well. You look at last year, Callum (Sutherland) won the job and everybody assumed that was going to happen. That’s kind of how that position goes. I’m proud of the depth and the competition we have in that room. It’ll be fun to see that thing continue to play out.”
Who’s back?: With 20 players from last week’s two-deep out for one reason or another Saturday night, Riley explained that — even with the Sooners on an open date this week before a Sept. 26 Big 12 home game with Kansas State — things remain extremely fluid.
“Oh, you know, we’ll see,” he said. “The way this thing works, it’s not like you’re going to get all the guys back in one day. Whether it’s an injury, whether it’s COVID-related. ... You just kind of wake up one day and most days you’re going to have a few guys back and a few guys gone, and then you you wake up and do it again the next day.
“Obviously we’re expecting — and holding ourselves accountable — and fully expecting to continue to get better and better and do a better job with COVID. We cannot have games like that where we’ve got that many people out. We’ve got to do a much better job. Hoping to have some guys back. We understand these are the ups and downs of this season, and we’ve got to be able to handle it regardless.”
To get the latest OU posts as they happen, join the SI Sooners Community by clicking “Follow” at the top right corner of the page (mobile users can click the notifications bell icon), and follow SI Sooners on Twitter @All_Sooners.