Lincoln Riley: 2020 Will Be 'All Hands On Deck'

John. E. Hoover

The future of college football is murky for America. Now picture what a Division I head coach is thinking.

Assuming there are even games, regardless of whether Big 12 Conference teams rule against playing non-conference games or tries to play the full, 12-game slate, coaches are preparing for the worst.

And as such, they’re considering the need to have more players ready to play than ever before.

How deep could they be reaching into rosters in 2020?

“Oh, I don’t think there’s any limit to it,” Lincoln Riley said on a recent video teleconference with media. “It’s going to test the limits of your creativity, the limits of your preparation and probably the limits of your patience.”

On July 1, OU had 14 players test positive for COVID-19. On July 8, the Sooners recorded zero new positive tests.

Riley loves the progress, of course, but he also knows that could swing the other without any notice.

“Especially with this contact tracing being defined like it is right now,” Riley said. “You could see 20 or more players get wiped out like that. You can plan for some of it. You obviously can’t plan for all of it.”

Consider the following:

The Sooners have a quarterback derby brewing. While it’s widely assumed outside the program that Spencer Rattler will beat out Tanner Mordecai, Riley is going to let them compete first.

What happens if that competition intensifies to the point where Rattler and Mordecai are getting all the first-team snaps — like any normal quarterback competition — but come game-time, whenever it is, both quarterbacks test positive the Monday before the season opener?

Riley will play a game with a quarterback behind center — true freshman Chandler Morris? walk-on Connor McGinnis? walk-on Colt Atkinson? — that he hadn’t even considered and probably didn’t get any meaningful reps.

“It’s going to be an all-hands-on-deck mentality,” Riley said. “You’re going to have to have guys ready to play.

“Ultimately, at some point in the season, every team is probably going to have to play with somebody they did not plan on playing with at a position, whether they are way down on the depth chart or they play another position on the team and have to move over. There are going to have to be those kinds of adjustments.

“We’re used to, with our roster sizes, not having to worry too much about that. I would imagine this year is going to be quite a bit different.”

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.