Coach: Lincoln Riley (third season, 24-4 overall record)
2018 record: 12-2, 8-1 Big 12
Big 12 season prediction: First
“The expectations and standard of Oklahoma football are so high that it almost helps a little bit in a funny way. It almost helps you refocus in that, yeah, the last four were great but what about the fifth one? That’s the mindset around the program.” — OU coach Lincoln Riley
No starting quarterback named yet
There’s no timeline to name a starting quarterback even though it is widely anticipated Jalen Hurts will be the starter.
In fact, the final question directed to Riley during a breakout session asked about what sets Hurts apart entering the season.
“He has to win the job first. If he wins the job then we’ll talk about that,” Riley said.
Hurts, Tanner Mordecai and Spencer Rattler are the Sooners’ scholarship quarterbacks entering 2019. There’s no timeline to name a starter.
“I haven’t got to see them for a while. I’ve been in the meeting room with them for about an hour a week during the summer, which is all I’ve been able to. I get to see them work out but don’t get to see them throw,” Riley said. “I think they are all doing well. The competition will be raised certainly in August. You have a month there which gives you two-to-three weeks realistically to work through it and have a guy named and move forward from there.”
Expecting big things
Riley has high expectations for Kenneth Murray, the Big 12’s preseason defensive player of the year.
“You know it’s been a cool journey with him,” the OU coach said. “Basically he started as a true freshman because he had to. He certainly would have played, but I mean having to play the amount of snaps that he did. He did play a little bit out of position, honestly, that first year. Last year he was much more settled down and really had a strong year for us.
“I think there’s very much a sense around the program and from Kenneth individually that we all know he can play a lot better. That’s exciting, especially when you have the type of kid that you do with him as far as a guy that loves a game, takes working at his craft very, very seriously and is extremely dedicated to it.”
Brooks’ situation has been cleared
Oklahoma running back Kennedy Brooks didn’t participate with the team for much of the summer following a Title IX investigation. He has since been cleared and joined the team.
“Referring back to the statement we put out, Kennedy was reinstated back to the team late last week,” Riley said. “He’s back full-go with our guys. During the process, I was not involved at all. Not updated at all.
“That’s a process that our school takes very seriously and we leave that to the people that their job is to handle that and when they do, we take it from there.”
Why hasn’t OU played in a national championship game?
The Sooners advanced to the College Football Playoff semifinals in 2016 and 2018 and suffered season-ending losses to Georgia and Alabama, respectively. Could Riley put his finger on any reason why the team hasn’t reached the next step?
“We haven’t played complete enough in those semifinal games. Not necessarily one side of the ball or the other. We haven’t played a complete enough game to beat a top-4 team in the country,” Riley said. “We’ve been really close and we’ve had some stretches in all the semifinal games where we’ve played some good ball. Obviously you try to get your team as good as you can where your margin for error is a little bit lower, then you try to play your very best game there.
“If we’re lucky enough to get in that spot again we’ll have to do a better job.”
Sept. 1: Houston (ABC) 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 7: South Dakota 6 p.m.
Sept. 14: at UCLA (FOX23) 7 p.m.
Sept. 28: Texas Tech TBA
Oct. 5: at Kansas TBA
Oct. 12: Texas (at Dallas, FOX23) 11 a.m.
Oct. 19: West Virginia TBA
Oct. 26: at Kansas State TBA
Nov. 9: Iowa State TBA
Nov. 16: at Baylor TBA
Nov. 23: TCU TBA
Nov. 30: at Oklahoma State TBA