This week, Oklahoma met with the media as part of the Big 12 media days leading up to the 2018 season. These sessions serve as the first opportunity for media and fans to start talking about the upcoming season. Lincoln Riley along with Rodney Anderson, Kenneth Murray, Ben Powers, and Amani Bledsoe met with the media. Today, we’ll look at news and notes from the Oklahoma Media Day.
Since the end of last season, it’s been a foregone conclusion that Kyler Murray would take the reigns this year. However, according to Riley, we should pump the brakes.
Lincoln Riley when asked how the offense will change with Kyler Murray at quarterback.
— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) July 16, 2018
Reading between the lines, one has to believe there is a little bit of coach speak as well as motivation. Most likely, those comments were meant to keep Austin Kendall interested enough to stay engaged in the competition. Be that as it may, Murray is not the biggest guy on the field. At 5″10 and 195 pounds, with the grind of the season, Kendall might be counted on in some capacity.
Baker Mayfield and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo were the clear leaders on both sides of the ball last year. And, with both players in the NFL, there is a need for new leadership to emerge. Players like Anderson and Murray must take that extra step forward as leaders.
— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) July 16, 2018
It’s no secret that the Sooners have struggled defensively in the recent past. That was never more evident in the Rose Bowl playoff game loss to Georgia. With that being said, there may be proof of solid development on that side of the ball. Junior defensive end Amani Bledsoe had some interesting words about development. “Discipline and mindset, and understanding and trusting the defense and playing as a unit,” he said. “Offensive players can kind of get away with it a little bit, but (on) defense, you have to all play together and be on edge at the same time. Everyone has to be on the same page and communicate and play as a unit. That’s important for a defense.”
Could this be the year of the running back in the Big 12? If so, Oklahoma appears to be in a good position. The Sooners return the top two rushers in Anderson and Trey Sermon. The duo combined for over 1,900 yards last year. Also, Marcelias Sutton is back and the Sooners welcome true freshman T.J. Pledger to the fold. Oklahoma may rely on the running game a bit more in 2018.
It’s interesting to note that Riley called this team possibly the most talented team since he’s been here. With players such as Baker Mayfield, Samaje Perine, Joe Mixon, and Dede Westbrook just to name a few that is quite a bold proclamation. With that being said, the pressure will again be on the shoulders of Mike Stoops and the defense. As there are aspirations of a conference and national title, improvements must be made defensively to make that happen.