By Michael Kinney
FRISCO, Texas –Lincoln Riley is trying. Oklahoma’s head coach keeps trying to tell anyone that will listen that the quarterback competition between Kyler Murray and Austin Kendall is still going strong.
However, not many people are buying it. That is especially true of the media who were on hand Monday for Big 12 Media days at the Star in Frisco.
Yet, that didn’t keep Riley from trying to explain even though Murray returned to OU after signing a pro baseball contract, he hasn’t won the job yet.
“Kyler is not the quarterback yet. There is good competition going on and Kyler is going to have to fight like crazy to win this job,” Riley said. “It’s a different competition. It’s very different, both have been Baker’s backups in the last two years and they’ve been in multiple years and they’re both ready to be the starting quarterback at Oklahoma. First things first. He’s got to win that job and whoever wins it, whether it’s Austin Kendall or Kyler Murray, it will be different, no question.”
According to Riley, the battle for who will be the Sooners starting quarterback will roll into camp.
“They have different skill sets than Baker, there are some things that Baker did better than these guys and things that these guys do better than Baker did,” Riley said. “That’s always the job. Once we narrow that job down of tailoring that job to those guys and giving them the best chance for success. I think the most important thing or at least most important thing early for us is let’s make sure we get the right guy, put them through this competition and test these guys. Let’s really put them through it because we’ve got two guys that are more than capable of getting this team where we need to be.”
When Oklahoma’s offense is brought up these days, the topic of conversation seems to always be what they lost. From a Heisman trophy winning quarterback to premier tackle to a highly productive tight end, the Sooners lost a lot of talent.
Yet, the OU players who showed up to Media Days says their cupboard isn’t empty.
“I think if this team reaches its potential then we can play with them and we can beat anybody,” Riley said. “It’s a long road. There are a lot of teams that I think are capable of doing that and it’s hard to do. We’ve had a chance to get to the playoff twice, have had a chance to win this league three times in a row and it’s hard. We will have to fight like crazy to give ourselves that chance again.”
Their unit that seems most prepared for that fight is the Oklahoma offensive line. Despite losing Orlando Brown and Eric Wren, the front line hasn’t lost its confidence.
“The offensive line at the University of Oklahoma, I think it stands out,” senior Ben Powers said. “I think we play hard. I think it’s clear we want to be out there, and we want to be the best. We want to dominate every single play and we want to put people in the dirt.”
Powers said the Sooners can still be one of the best offenses in the nation. Much of that will depend on the Oklahoma run game. With a new quarterback under center, much of the team’s success could be dependent on the offensive line and tailbacks such as Rodney Anderson.
“We’ve leaned on him quite a bit. But not just Rodney, but Trey Sermon had a tremendous year for us as well,” Riley said. “Also bringing back Marcelias Sutton and a couple new guys there. The backfield’s always been a strength at Oklahoma, and it’s our hope that it always will be. It’s a very important position. And then once again, having that offensive line that we have, to be able to run behind, makes a big difference for whoever’s playing quarterback.”
For Anderson, he just wants to see the unit play consistently to the level they expect.
“I feel like we always have a certain level of play at Oklahoma,” tailback Rodney Anderson said. “We try to main that throughout the season and be consistent.”
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider with EyeamTruth Media