Oklahoma Coach Lincoln Riley: 'We Answer to One Standard, and That's Our Own'

Sooners' head coach says his quarterbacks can take on the expectations of playing QB at OU and says they've handled an awkward situation well.
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NORMAN — Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley says he hears the opinions of Sooner Nation in the stadium. But he can't allow those opinions to affect how he or his players approach the college football season.

"We are the only expectation and message that counts," Riley said Tuesday during his weekly news conference. "Absolutely, we appreciate the fans cheering in the game. But we answer to one standard, and that's our own."

Riley took two early questions about members of the fan base chanting "We want Caleb" after starting quarterback Spencer Rattler threw an interception in Saturday night's 16-13 victory over West Virginia. Caleb Williams did not play in the game despite the fans' wishes.

Riley said he feels good about how both Rattler and Williams have handled the awkward situation.

"If I got guys in there that have thin skin and can't handle that, then I got the wrong guys in the room," Riley said. "And I got the right guys in the room."

The Rattler interception itself, Riley said, was the result of a receiver running the wrong route and and bringing a defender into the area of Rattler's throw that shouldn't have even been there.

With so many receivers new at their jobs this year — Mike Woods was at Arkansas in 2020, Mario Williams was in high school, Marvin Mims was playing the outside position and has now shifted inside, Jadon Haselwood was injured, Brayden Willis and Austin Stogner missed time with injury, Theo Wease is currently hurt — does Riley see a need to simplify things for his wideouts so they don't have route busts that create catastrophic turnovers?

"No," Riley said. "Some of the things we busted are extremely simple things. ...

"Why does a guy miss a signal? Why does a guy miss a wristband? It's playing college football. it happens many times. 

"We're fully confident that our guys are capable and know what they're doing, and we've got to carry that over into the game more."

Riley reiterated that his team's early offensive struggle start with him.

"We need to coach better," he said. "Every position group needs to be better ... It's the little things. We've kind of taken our turn.

"We're just got to finish and make the most of those opportunities."

The No. 6-ranked Sooners (4-0) played their first four games at home, but hit the road this week for a Big 12 Conference game at Kansas State.

It could be a challenge for Riley and Oklahoma to put recent results behind them: they’ve lost to K-State each of the last two years. OU hasn’t lost three straight times to an opponent since 1996-98.

The Wildcats started 3-0 and reached No. 25 in the AP Top 25 before losing last week 31-20 at Oklahoma State.