By Michael Kinney
Both Austin Kendall and Kyler Murray and were among the 15 players on hand for media day. Having both quarterbacks take part in the event helps reinforce coach Lincoln Riley’s assertion that neither has one the starting quarterback spot yet.
Their teammates also added credence to that theory Sunday during the Sooners Media Day at Memorial Stadium.
“For people to just cancel Austin out, it’s pretty crazy because they don’t know what’s happening, what we’ve doing or how the battle is going,” sophomore receiver CeeDee Lamb said. “From the outside looking in, it’s easy to tell, but you never know what’s going on behind the scenes.
“The battle is going good.”
Junior linebacker Caleb Kelly has had to go against both quarterback in practice. He says their surprising skillsets have made this a hard race to see who will be named starter.
“It’s a really good competition,” Caleb Kelly said. “Everyone wants to just name it right now, just name who the starter is, but it really is a competition. We aren’t just saying that for the media. Both of those guys can start at the Division I level.”
No matter who wins the job, Murray insists the quarterback room will be drama free.
“There is no beef in the quarterback room,” Murray said. “It’s all competition. Everyone comes in ready to work, not being mad at one another when he gets more reps. This game is not friendly to everyone. At the end of the day somebody is going to win the job, somebody is going to be the starter. You are a competitor, you play football, obviously, you want to be the guy. There’s going to be a little feelings at the end of the deal. But we’re friends at the end of the day.”
Oklahoma receivers playing the respect card
During Big 12 Media Days last week, Riley said the receivers needed to step up this season as a group. That seems to be the sentiment going around the entire group.
“I feel like we have a lot to prove this year,” Lamb said. “A lot of people are doubting us right now. We don’t need all the praises right now. We just need to come out and show everybody what we can do as a group.”
For junior Marquise Brown, he already knew that a lot was riding on the shoulders of the receivers before Riley told the media.
“I expect a lot out of me and all the receivers also,” Brown said. “I tell them everyday that I want us to be that group. No doubt about, when something needs to be done, I want us to make it happen.”
Mike Stoops said to combat the spread offenses in the Big 12 the Sooners will play much more nickel coverage this season compared to last year. He said that the biggest change the team will mot likely make when it comes to schemes.
Yet, it’s the increased talent that is now showing up on the defensive unit that has the Oklahoma coaches believe they can play at an elite level.
“It’s possible to have a defense as good as anywhere,” Riley said. “There is no magic league for defenses. Like I’ve said many times, I think it is more challenging numbers wise to have one of the best defenses in our league when you compare to the others because of the offenses. But absolutely, you can have a defense that you know is a top five defense and plays the way we did in Columbus last year. That’s kind of what we envision, a top offense that can go in there and have the capability to shut somebody down. We have to do it more consistently.”
Stoops agrees with Riley but has a different outlook on just how highly ranked any defense I the Big 12 can rise to.
“I think there are a lot of variables that go into playing good defense,” Stoops said. “I would think more of a top 20, top 15 is more realistic in our league just because of the efficiency that these guys work at. Obviously, the last few years have been off the charts with the type of personnel that we’ve had to deal with. Certainly, you have to balance the caliber of defense you have going against it. Those are the areas I think we need to make up the most ground. The personnel you need across the board to match up in this league and we’ve made some adjustments in that area.”
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Writer with EyeAmTruth