Alex Grinch will coach from the sidelines this season

Oklahoma defensive coordinator Alex Grinch (left) will lead his unit from the sideline instead of the press box this season. ALONZO ADAMS/for the Tulsa World

Grinch will patrol sideline

When Lincoln Riley took over as Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator in 2015, he let it be known that he would call plays from the sideline.

During the Sooners’ season opener Sunday against Houston, first-year defensive coordinator Alex Grinch will be on the sideline, too.

Before he called plays in his first game, Riley said he put plenty of stock in being able to talk face-to-face with his quarterback and the rest of the offense. That’s why he understands Grinch’s decision.

“You have to have that to be able to make adjustments or if something’s hurting you, you know where it’s at or if you have a leak, you know how to plug it,” Riley said. “We feel like the staff sets up that way. And then going back to the mentality thing, because of how important we believe that is, Alex being on the field in those moments, to be able to look our guys in the eye is extremely important.”

Nightmares of Cougars

Riley was succinct when asked what he remembered about the 2016 season-opening loss to Houston.

“What I remember most is we played awful,” the OU coach said about the 33-23 setback. “Not much more than that.”

He said there were several teaching moments that came from that game, however.

“When you play a good team in the opener, you can’t do things like we did in that game,” Riley said. “We turned the ball over. We had an enormous special teams mistake. We gave up a ton of third downs defensively. We had a lot of missed opportunities against a good football team that day that we didn’t do very well. It’s certainly going to be a challenge, there’s no doubt.

”This is a really good football team coming in here. Our guys know that. Our guys have a healthy respect for Houston, the players they have, the coaches they have and know we need to play very well.”

Captains chosen

Neville Gallimore, Creed Humphrey, Jalen Hurts and Kenneth Murray will be OU’s team captains. Murray was a captain last season, too.

In a unique twist, all have different years of experience playing for the Sooners.

Gallimore enters his fourth season. He suited up but didn’t play in 2016 against Houston. Murray was the first true freshman to start a season opener at inside linebacker since 1975. Humphrey enters his redshirt sophomore season, but commands respect after being named a freshman All-American at center last season. Hurts is a graduate transfer quarterback from Alabama who will make his OU debut Sunday.