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Lincoln Log: Riley Noncommittal on Oklahoma's QB Situation

Regardless of who is the new QB1, the Sooners must take care of business against TCU and can't linger on their emotional Texas win.

NORMAN — On the heels of Oklahoma’s improbable comeback victory against the Texas Longhorns, the upcoming week will be far from simple for OU.

The No. 4-ranked Sooners suddenly have a quarterback controversy, as true freshman Caleb Williams entered the Red River Showdown and sparked the 55-48 victory.

OU head coach Lincoln Riley declined to name a starter during his weekly press conference on Tuesday, but he did confirm that he expects both quarterbacks to be on the roster for the duration of the 2021 season.

The sights of the program are now set on TCU, who will enter Norman at 6:30 p.m. fresh off a 52-31 demolition of the Texas Tech Red Raiders, as Gary Patterson’s team has been riding their offense, rather than Patterson’s defense, to victories this season.

No Two-QB Plan

Whatever Riley decides at quarterback, he said he’d prefer to roll with one guy instead of juggling a two-quarterback system.

“To my core I'm not in favor of it,” Riley said. “But I don't want to just because it's maybe something that I don't deep down really believe in, I don't know that I'd ever take it off the table if I felt like it could help our team. But it's, I guess at the surface, it's not something I would want to have, but you never know. I mean, I could sit up here and say heck no, and then we go do it on Saturday, so we'll just see how it evolves."

Riley has obviously turned to Williams this year in sort yardage situations, but alternating between Williams and Spencer Rattler from drive to drive would negatively effect each quarterback’s ability to settle into a flow throughout the game.

“I think the rhythm is tough,” Riley said. “I mean, I think there's some challenges there, just with the rhythm of the game, seeing things. I've always believed sometimes it's more similar to kind of what happened two years ago in the Texas game where if the starter, you feel like is just a tick off, you let them kind of catch their breath. Sometimes it's good for him to kind of see it from the sidelines and kind of see it unfold as opposed to out there kind of in the middle of the action and I have a couple of examples throughout the years where I think that's been, where that's been pretty effective.

“So I think the rhythm of it and for the entire offense is probably number one. And then I think a lot of times, unless you've got guys who their styles are exactly the same, you talk about potentially two sets of game plans, all of that which can be challenging for the other 10 guys.”

Based on Riley’s demeanor, it would be a fairly stunning turn of events if there isn’t a clear-cut starter when the Sooners roll out against the Horned Frogs on Saturday.

On to TCU

Playing in such an emotionally charged game as OU-Texas, there can be concern of a letdown the week after.

But since Riley arrived in Norman as the offensive coordinator in 2015, it’s hardly been an issue for the Sooners. Over that span, the Sooners are 6-0 in their game following the Red River Showdown, winning by an average of 28.7 points per game.

While there is no denying the magnitude of the Texas game, Riley said Oklahoma can’t let one single game swallow up their goals for the entire season.

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“You guys hear me talk about the Texas game,” Riley said. “It’s a phenomenal game and I say it every year, probably too much made of it. Everybody wants to talk about these giant recruiting ramifications and, ‘Oh my God if we lose,’ and, ‘Oh, if we win, it’s so amazing.’ It’s great. It’s a rivalry win. It’s a great win. It’s great to have Saturday, but Sunday morning, we’re on to TCU.

“…If that was the pinnacle of our season, if it was our number one, only goal the entire year was just beat Texas, shoot, I wouldn’t be up here. I’d be on vacation right now. There’s so much left for us, and we’re just now at the halfway point of this thing. That’s been our mentality all the years.”

Prior success is no guarantee that the Sooners will be able to turn the page after an emotional victory over the Longhorns, but it’s what the team has to do this week instead of living off of their heroics in the Cotton Bowl.

“The previous teams have done a good job with that and this team’s gotta do it,” Riley said. “It’s got to be our challenge. We’ve got the blueprint of how to do it, but we’ve got to go do it. We’ve got to get past the win. We’ll all get around someday when we’re old and yuck it up and talk about it but we’re done with it for now.”

Learned Patience

Kennedy Brooks’ running style, thought undoubtedly productive, is an acquired taste.

Even Riley said the patient running style of Brooks took some getting used to.

“It’s really unique,” Riley said. “…I’ve had to get used to it too. In the first of his career we would get on him a lot for not running harder or not finishing the runs more and not making cuts more but as we went through, you learned that’s just kind of him. As you watch him, he doesn’t miss many cuts.”

After opting out of the 2020 season, Brooks has come back looking stronger than ever, and as a result he’s been able to add to his already explosive running game.

“He’s developed a body now where he breaks a lot of tackles, he’s tough to get on the ground,” Riley said. “His top-end speed’s gotten better. It is unique because it’s so, so patient. That guy’s carried the ball so much in his life, he knows who he is as a runner and he’s very confident and settled in with himself and knows what his strengths are and you see the results of that.”

Brooks figures to play a big role yet again on Saturday, as Riley’s offenses have historically gashed Patterson’s defenses via the ground game. 

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