NORMAN — Jalen Hurts called an audible from the podium during his Monday news conference.
The Oklahoma quarterback didn’t wait for a question. He started with an opening statement underscoring his team’s need to have the right mental intensity, approach, attention to detail and discipline to do its job.
“Looking back at this last game we played in, there is a lot of opportunity and room for growth and maturity,” Hurts said. “A lot of lessons we can learn from and will learn from. So I think the biggest thing as we go on and continue to move forward is to keep the main thing the main thing. Attacking every day and improving every day.”
Hurts’ opening statement consisted of 120 words. His combined word count of answers to the first 11 questions from reporters was 135.
While the OU quarterback remains guarded with his answers, Hurts clearly had a point to make heading into Texas week.
There wasn’t complete satisfaction in the 45-20 win at Kansas.
OU coach Lincoln Riley said he had a candid talk with the team after the road victory. He said it was an opportunity for everyone to look in the mirror and ask what needs to be done to make the steps that are needed for a special season.
Said Riley: “I think Jalen voicing that and seeing that, he’s been a part of teams that made runs, as have we here, and it takes moments like that, it takes teams continuing to feel the pressure, not from the outside but the pressure from inside the walls, from inside yourself, that, ‘I’ve got to get better or I’m letting this team down. I’ve got to do my part or I’m letting this team down.’ I think he feels that.”
The 12th question posed to Hurts brought his longest response to the media. He began with a statement. Why did he feel like he needed to do that?
“We’ve got to get better and we’ve got to continue to improve. It’s as simple as that,” Hurts said. “Gotta keep the main thing the main thing, gotta play to our standard. We want to play our brand of football, so that’s how we’re going to attack every day.”
The Sooners didn’t appear as crisp offensively against Kansas as their previous four games. They had season lows for points, passing yards and total yards.
It wasn’t the momentum needed heading into a rivalry game against Texas.
Hurts is familiar with the Red River Showdown. A Houston native, he was recruited by Texas and built a relationship with former Horns coach Charlie Strong.
Alabama won his letter of intent, and Hurts would go on to play in many big games, including the Iron Bowl against heated rival Auburn.
The quarterback dislikes comparing OU and Alabama in anything, but what about these two rivalry games? Does he appreciate new experiences and playing in a new atmosphere?
“Look, I’ve experienced some things,” Hurts said. “I’ve seen a lot and I appreciate every opportunity I have to play this game. I don’t take it for granted. Just got to prepare.”
Hurts was asked if he always downplayed rivalry games.
“It’s all external factors. Nobody’s going to change the way I think about something, what I tell my teammates or how we’re going to approach it,” Hurts said. “We’re going to continue to approach it by trying to go 1-0 every week.”
Riley will enter Saturday’s game with overwhelming trust in his quarterback.
“He’s played in a lot of big games. Big games are big games, you can tell,” Riley said. “He’s played in major rivalry games. He’s played in championship games. So no, I’m very confident in him.”