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Oklahoma Football Press Conference: Lincoln Riley on Kennedy Brooks, celebrations and Kansas State

Last Saturday’s game was the first since the Oklahoma Sooners and defensive coordinator Mike Stoops parted ways. It was a complete team performance against TCU, aside from a stretch in the second quarter. When Gary Patterson made a QB change, the Horned Frogs found new energy and put together a few scoring drives, but for the most part Ruffin McNeill’s defense held up well.

Now the boys are back in Norman for the first time in nearly a month. Bill Snyder and the Kansas State Wildcats (3-4, 1-3) have struggled with consistency all season, but Lincoln Riley understands all too well why this opponent should not be taken lightly. Last season in Manhattan, K-State led Oklahoma 21-7 in the second quarter and 21-20 going into the fourth before the Sooners rallied to win 42-35.

Riley spoke about the upcoming matchup and also addressed personnel questions at Monday’s presser.

Late in the game, starting running back Trey Sermon went down with an apparent leg injury and was sidelined for the remainder of the contest. Receiver Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown was also dealing with an injury for the majority of the game, but managed to battle through it. Riley spoke about the latest status update he had on both players.

“Nothing to report on Sermon, we’ll just have to see how that one goes. Marquise Brown is doing well. I don’t anticipate any issues there. Other than that, I think we’re pretty clean.”

Last season, Alex Delton was the quarterback for Kansas State against Oklahoma. This time around, it looks like Skylar Thompson will be the signal caller, with Delton as the backup. Recently, the Sooners have struggled to contain mobile QBs, and although Thompson is more of a passer than Delton, he’s still capable enough as a runner to force OU to respect his legs.

“Kansas State does (the QB run) in a lot of different ways, I mean Kansas State really majors in it. […] They are different depending on which quarterback is playing, too. Obviously we saw a lot of the Delton kid last year, who’s a tremendous runner. Then the kid that they played a lot the other day, I know they’ve played both this year, he’s a capable runner, but they use them a little bit differently. Their quarterback run game is as advanced as anybody in the country. They really build a ton around it and challenge you in a lot of different ways.”

Following Oklahoma’s first score of the game, CeeDee Lamb and Marquise Brown celebrated in the end zone by enacting a move inspired by the popular anime series “Dragon Ball Z”. This was hardly the first time either of the two have performed plenty of celebrations this season, but this was the first time it was flagged as a penalty. Riley shared his thoughts on the call:

“The only thing, just like in any call you know what the rules are, the only thing that we ever want is consistency. If it’s going to be called in that game it needs to be called in the previous, whatever, seven games. CeeDee and Marquise have scored a lot of touchdowns, so if we’re going to call it like that we need to call it like that all the time, and obviously I got to do a better job coaching it.”

Watching Kennedy Brooks run is a bit perplexing, because he racks up a lot of yards and makes it look effortless. Riley dished his thoughts on the Mansfield, Texas native’s unique style.

“We were joking he had one, I think it was Baylor or somebody, he looks like he’s out running in the park with his Labrador. It does. It’s hard to explain, honestly. It’s the same thing we saw in high school. We went back and forth earlier in his career, should we offer the kid? He was ultra-productive, and the tape was really good. He wasn’t just built unbelievably or he didn’t have just 4.3 speed. You didn’t see him just violently running over people, but he just was in the right place at the right time almost every single time. And he’s been like that here as a runner. There’s an effortless quality to it, but I think he just has great feel. He just understands where plays are supposed to go.”

When Dimitri Flowers wrapped up his Sooner career, replacing his production was one of the primary tasks for Oklahoma’s offense. Senior Carson Meier has gradually taken on more responsibility on offense, and has taken tremendous strides as a receiver. Riley touched on the growth of his starting fullback throughout this season.

“Two keys I would say: one, just all the reps over the years backing up Dimitri. A lot of those weren’t in games. Dimitri was so versatile and stayed healthy for us for several years, but with all we did with Dimitri we had to have the next guy ready, and (Meier) was always ready so he took a lot of reps here and really grew behind the scenes. The other thing I would say has really emerged, he has drastically improved as a receiver. He’s always been a good blocker, but he has really improved not only just catching the ball but understanding our route concepts, understanding where we need him to be versus different coverages. That development has allowed us to use him more. He’s a weapon there.”

Full press conference links

On Monday, redshirt freshman Kennedy Brooks was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Week for his 168-yard performance, and much of his success is credited to Oklahoma’s offensive line. Guard Ben Powers told the media he wasn’t surprised by Brooks’ day because he’s seen it in practice for two seasons now.

Being the leader on defense, MIKE linebacker Kenneth Murray was proud of how his teammates stepped up after the recent change in coordinators. Murray also noted how much he respects Ruffin McNeill and how simple the game plan was going into Saturday.

Kyler Murray’s high school teammate Lee Morris began his Sooner career as a walk-on and has built a reputation as a touchdown machine with a career TD/reception ratio of 8/12. Murray noted that Morris has always been capable of making plays, but he also recognizes that what the receiver is doing now is out of the ordinary.

In order for Oklahoma to have a chance to return to the College Football Playoff, every opponent from this point on will need to be respected to the fullest, and the Sooners’ A-game has to be on display. Riley seems to know how good this team can be and what it’s going to take to get there.

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