Watching the Oklahoma Sooners scrape by the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Saturday in a 51-46 win for OU offered reminders that Lincoln Riley is only in his second year as a head coach.
It’s one thing to tell your players to keep their composure when they’re getting baited by the other team. It’s another to do something about it when they lose their cool.
Right tackle Cody Ford somehow managed to avoid an ejection in the first quarter after getting nailed with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for throwing a punch. In the third quarter, wide receiver CeeDee Lamb pulled off the rare feat of drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and a personal foul on the same play. The twofer moved the Sooners from Tech’s seven yard line back to the 37, and the drive ended in a punt, rather than points.
Riley responded by keeping both players in the game, even though they were clearly on tilt. In fact, after Lamb’s meltdown, OU targeted him with a pass on the very next play.
It called to mind an incident earlier in the season in which cornerback Parnell Motley drew a personal foul for suplexing an Iowa State player after the whistle. Motley stayed in the game and was roasted on the next play for a long touchdown pass.
Leaving players in the game in those situations has a twofold effect. First, it sends the message that it’s not a big deal to cost the team that much yardage. Second, it doesn’t give players a chance to settle down, raising the likelihood that they will either lash out again or make mistakes during the regular course of play.
All the post-play shenanigans in this game would have pissed off anyone with a pulse, and there’s nothing wrong with dishing out payback when appropriate. That’s the game. Riley still has to do more to keep his guys in check.
If he doesn’t, the Sooners will work their way into more dogfights in games they should win easily.
*I don’t like to bitch about specific officiating decisions in a game because it’s loser talk. (And, frankly, I have no idea why anyone would want to be a college football official today.) I don’t mind criticizing a crew when they allow a game to get out of hand, however - that’s what happened in this one.
Coming off the nonsense of the preceding Texas-West Virginia game, not a great day for Big 12 refs.
*I often wonder if Riley just gets bored calling plays. Too cute. His insistence on throwing and gunning for chunk plays in the second half was baffling, especially when the Sooners were gobbling up more than seven yards per carry.
*Speaking of which, whose dog did Kennedy Brooks kick? The redshirt freshman running back ran for 168 yards and 94 yards - averaging more than 11 yards per attempt - in the last two games. He got all of four carries versus the Red Raiders.
Maybe the coaches were concerned about ball security, given how grabby Tech’s defenders are?
*Grant Calcaterra keeps getting the short end of the stick. It’s like Kyler Murray can’t help but get him laid out.
*I don’t pretend to be an expert on line play, but two guys who really seemed to stand out to me were Dru Samia and Ben Powers. Both were burying Tech defenders left and right.
*Marquise Brown looks like he needs a week off.
*For the rewatch:
What happened on Murray’s two picks in the first half?
How did it go for Charleston Rambo in his first meaningful action?
Is Jeremiah Hall ready for a larger role?
*The defense fell on the wrong end of so many bizarre breaks that I don’t know how to even begin to evaluate the performance. Two first-team defensive backs sitting out didn’t help, either.
I found most of it… encouraging?
*Parnell Motley must have said something mean about the refs’ moms or something.
*I guess you could count Robert Barnes’ oskie on the two-point conversion in the second half as a meaningful turnover since it resulted in points. Nonetheless, this defense’s inability to generate takeaways is flat-out astounding. It looks at times as though they’re deliberately trying not to take the ball away from the other team.
*It seems as though Barnes is gradually improving with more time on the field, particularly in coverage.
*The defensive line had a few whiffs on what should have been easy sacks. Again, I just don’t get it.
*Tre Brown might have been the most impactful defensive player on the field. I don’t know why secondary coach would ever take him out of the game at this point.
*For the rewatch:
Did Tech do anything unique in its screen game?
Where is Ronnie Perkins?
What is OU getting out of the SAM linebacker position right now?