Spencer Rattler: ‘We got better in a lot of areas; it’s gonna be fun to watch’

Lincoln Riley said OU's move to the SEC is "going to be a positive thing for this university and state."cover
Lincoln Riley said OU's move to the SEC is "going to be a positive thing for this university and state."cover /

With fall training camp now in the rear-view mirror, the Oklahoma football team began preparations this week for the season opener at Tulane on Sept. 4.

The Sooners conducted their second major scrimmage this week, and head coach Lincoln Riley liked the effort and what he and his coaching staff were able to observe.

Addressing the media on Wednesday, the fifth-year Sooner head coach said, “The scrimmage was good. We got close to 90 plays, which was pretty heavy for us, and we got a good look at really three different sets of groups on both sides of the ball.”

The depth at running back took a big hit this week with the news that redshirt-sophomore Marcus Major would miss the 2021 season because of academic issues. That leaves Kennedy Brooks, Tennessee transfer Eric Gray and LSU transfer Tre Bradford as the only remaining RBs on scholarship.

Oklahoma Sooners Football
Oklahoma Sooners Football /

Oklahoma Sooners Football

Riley was asked how beneficial it is to have someone like Gray on the roster this season and about the competition between OU’s top two running backs.  “It’s really good not only having two good players, but the experience,” Riley said.

“Both of these guys have played a lot of ball. They’ve been in big atmospheres, big games, and you can tell. Obviously, with the attrition we’ve had in that room, it’s made (their presence) even more important and made those guys even more valuable.”

Managing Oklahoma’s high 2021 expectations

About all the high expectation and the team’s high national ranking going into the 2021 season, Riley said it doesn’t really matter. “It’s just something that we can all read and talk about until we actually play.

“More importantly, for us, our expectations haven’t changed,” he said. “They’re the same every year, and part of our expectation is to be able to block out any outside noise and remain focused on us being our best.”

Riley said the offensive line is definitely getting better. We’re starting to find a few different combinations that we like, he said, and the combinations are starting to settle in. Last season, for the first time in a while, he said the defensive line was definitely more talented and deeper than the Sooners’ offensive line group. This year, the two groups are more equal in talent and experience than Riley remembers seeing for some time.

That speaks to the more complete and complementary nature of the 2021 edition of Oklahoma football.

Can Jadon Haselwood rebound and return to top form from his knee injury?

The Sooner head coach was asked about the progress being made by former five-star wide receiver Jadon Haselwood from the knee injury he suffered prior to last season.

He (Haselwood) is one of those players who has such a passion for playing the game and making plays and being out there with his teammates, Riley said. “It just kills him when he can’t.

“I’ve been really impressed,” Riley said. “He’s had a fantastic camp, and he’s going to get a lot of opportunities (this season) to make plays.”

Regarding special teams, Riley said Oklahoma is looking to have Marvin Mims as the primary returning punts, but said Drake Stoops has some experience there as well. On kickoffs, they are trying several guys, including D.J. Graham, Eric Gray and true freshmen Billy Bowman, Mario Williams and Jalil Farooq.

Spencer Rattler followed Riley at the podium and said he expected big things from the Sooner offense this season.

“You guys will see,” he said. “It’s going to be fun to watch. Going to be fun to play with these guys. Just feeling it throughout camp. We got better in a lot of areas we had to get better on.”

Rattler said last year’s team was weighed down at times by all the expectations placed on them.

Asked if there was even more pressure this season, the Sooner preseason All-American quarterback said:

“That’s what we worried too much on last year was pressure and expectations and all that stuff. We just gotta go out, play ball and do our job.”

You could tell from this press conference that Riley, his coaches and the players are excited about the 2021 season and the possibilities for this Oklahoma team. They won’t have to wait too much longer, with the Sooners’ season set to open in a little over a week.