Riley says players won’t give ‘horns down’ gesture Saturday
Don’t expect to see Oklahoma football players displaying the “horns down” hand gesture during Saturday’s football game against Texas.
OU coach Lincoln Riley was asked during his Monday news conference how he would handle that situation given that a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty could be issued.
“Our players won’t do it. Just like the Big 12 (championship) game,” Riley said.
The Sooners defeated the Longhorns in last year’s title game, just weeks after the Big 12 Conference announced a penalty could be called against offenders.
“For us as a team, none of that is really our focus,” OU linebacker Kenneth Murray said. “We know at the end of the day, doing stuff like that is going to hurt us as a team. So at the end of the day, the only thing that matters to us is winning this ballgame. And so if that’s going to hurt the team, then that’s not going to be done.”
Visitors to the University of Oklahoma were greeted by a sign attached to the iconic “Seed Sower” statue. The banner was directed at Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who made comments last year saying that he would remember anyone who disrespected the Longhorns with the gesture.
“@Sehlinger3: Our horns are still down. #BeatTexas” is what the white-on-crimson sign said with a upside-down Longhorns logo as the centerpiece.
After West Virginia players threw down “Horns Down” hand gestures after a 2018 win over the Longhorns, Ehlinger said in a now-deleted tweet: “I remember every single team/player that disrespects the rich tradition of the University of Texas by putting the Horns down. Do not think it will be forgotten in the future.”
Break out the coffee
Oklahoma will play its fourth consecutive 11 a.m. contest when the Sooners entertain West Virginia on Oct. 19, the Big 12 announced Monday.
OU had wins against Texas Tech and Kansas following morning kickoffs and will meet Texas at 11 a.m. Saturday in the Cotton Bowl. The West Virginia game will be broadcast on FOX.
The early wakeup call usually is a test not only on the field for OU, but off the field in terms of recruiting visits to campus. Many of the high-school prospects have Friday night games, which means for creative travel for early Saturday starts.
“Is it ideal? No. But that’s when they tell us to play,” Riley said during his Monday news conference. “We’ll figure out the recruiting end of it. We’ll make it work. Like I said before, it doesn’t matter if it’s 6 a.m. in the parking lot, just tell us when and where and we’ll show up ready to play.”
West Virginia’s starting quarterback is Austin Kendall, who was on the Sooners’ roster until transferring to the Big 12 school during the off-season.
Offense or defense?
Freshman Trejan Bridges played safety against Texas Tech after requesting a position change. In Saturday’s win at Texas, he returned to his wide receiver spot and had two catches for 19 yards.
So what does the future hold for Bridges? Offense or defense? Riley said he can do both. The Kansas game plan, he said, allowed him to play offense.
“I do want to find a role, but I’m fine if that role’s on either side or both sides. And he’s certainly capable of it,” Riley said. “He’s a really good football player. He’s been a dominant special teams player for us up to this point. He’s done a nice job in other roles he’s served, offensively and defensively. Had a great catch the other day.
“I think he’ll just keep growing. Eventually does it take one permanent turn or the other? Probably. He’s got a very very unique skill set that’s a lot of fun to think about all the possibilities.”
Offensive line still banged up
Riley said starting tackles Erik Swenson and Adrian Ealy are “highly questionable” at best with undisclosed injuries for the Texas game.
“We’ll see how they progress here this week,” Riley said. “I don’t see either one of those guys out extremely long-term, but it’s also, they’re dealing with a little bit more than a bump or a scratch, too. So we’ll continue to monitor them.”
OU has played five different lineups in five games on the offensive line. In Saturday’s game, R.J. Proctor started at left tackle and Tyrese Robinson started at right tackle.
“We wouldn’t even have known, obviously, a scenario where Tyrese Robinson would play right tackle and now we know he can play and he can play it pretty well,” Riley said. “Regardless of where any of those guys end up playing, it gives you a greater understanding on the line, it gives you more depth, we’ve had a chance to play a lot of guys. So there’s going to be more positives. But I think our guys have handled it solid, but we’ve got to continue to build there.”
On the call
Saturday’s game — the 115th meeting between the Sooners and Longhorns — will be broadcast on FOX.
Gus Johnson (play-by-play), Joel Klatt (analyst) and Jenny Taft (sideline) will call the game.