What might have been
Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray admitted on Monday he entertained the thought of being on the other side of the Sooners’ meeting with Texas Tech on Saturday.
“I actually almost went to Lubbock. Me and Coach Kingsbury are pretty close. I was always a fan of him and what he can do,” Murray said.
The former 5-star recruit took an official visit to Texas Tech during his senior year. Murray, who signed with Texas A&M back in January of 2015, had reasons for the interest in the Red Raiders.
Kingsbury was former Texas A&M Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel’s position coach when he won the award in 2012. Murray saw some correlations between himself and Manziel. Kingsbury was calling the plays when the Manziel craze began.
“You watch what he’s been able to do offensively. I’ve said it, I didn’t think I was gonna be big-time just because of how tall I was or whatever it was, but you know, I felt like at that time, that’d be a good spot for me with him,” Murray said. “And who knows what would’ve happened if I’d gone and played for him. That was part of it.”
Special trip for Riley
OU coach Lincoln Riley, a Texas Tech alum and former assistant with the Red Raiders, will make his second trip to Lubbock, Texas, with the Sooners on Saturday.
He admitted on Monday that one of his strangest professional experiences came during OU’s 2016 game at Texas Tech.
“It was one of the more unique feelings I’ve ever had in a game. Just coming in that other tunnel and so much history there and so many good memories there. It was unique,” Riley said. “Then on top of it, the game was one of the wildest ones ever. There were some mixed emotions for sure and probably will be in this one as well. You enjoy ones like this.”
The Sooners won the 2016 meeting 66-59. Then-OU quarterback Baker Mayfield threw for 545 yards and seven touchdowns night. Then-Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw for 734 yards and five TDs.
The victories over TCU and Kansas State featured near even splits in run-pass yardage. During that span, the Sooners have rushed for over 600 yards.
Much of that credit should go to OU’s offensive line. Riley likened the way the group is currently playing to the form the group showed during last season’s second-half surge.
“I think more than anything we’re starting to play closer to what we think we’re capable of,” Riley said. “I felt like this group had a chance to be pretty good and we’re really starting to settle in with Creed (Humphrey) at center. Getting that position solidified has really made a big difference. He’s done really well. Guys have played really well around him.”
The only injury update Riley offered on Monday concerned safety Brendan Radley-Hiles. The freshman exited last Saturday’s victory over Kansas State after suffering an injury late in the first quarter.
Riley did not reveal the exact injury, but didn’t believe it was a long-term situation.
“What that means for this week or the coming weeks, I don’t know yet. We haven’t had him in. Yesterday was our day off,” Riley said. “We’ll see how he does here and how he responds to rehab throughout the week.”
Defense’s confidence rising
Since the upheaval following the Oct. 6 loss to Texas, the Sooners have held their two opponents — TCU and Kansas State — to less than 300 yards. The Sooners rose to No. 59 in the FBS in total defense following Saturday’s effort.
But Texas Tech, which is averaging 528.3 yards per game, is a different test.
“When teams spread you out, obviously there’s gonna be more opportunities to tackle in open space and stuff like that, so definitely an opportunity for us as a defense to go out there and show that improvement,” linebacker Kenneth Murray said. “I have 100 percent confidence in everybody on this defense to be able to go out there and get the job done.”
— John Shinn, for the Tulsa World