There’s a first for everything when you’re Lincoln Riley heading into season 1 at Oklahoma.
First season, first recruiting class, first decision, first press conference before the first game of the season.
The Oklahoma football coach has been asked how he feels about all of those things. It’s becoming repetitive. So, nothing here about Riley’s first-time feels. Here are a few take-aways from the Monday press conference.
1. Kyler Murray is the back-up quarterback
While the decision isn’t particularly shocking, the fact Riley said Monday the Sooners would be redshirting Austin Kendall is a bit of surprise. Murray is certainly the better athlete of the two, a better runner and is also more dynamic. He sat out last season after transferring from Texas A&M.
Now, Riley wouldn’t say if the Sooners were planning on using Murray in any other capacity than just quarterback, which is something OU wouldn’t be able to do with Kendall.
“Our plan is hopefully to redshirt (Kendall),” Riley said at the press conference Monday. “He had a phenomenal camp. He and Kyler were neck-and-neck. That decision was made due to fact we could redshirt him. If that wouldn’t have been the case, we wouldn’t have announced it.”
Riley also said that walk-on Tanner Schaefer will be the third-string QB as Kendall redshirts.
The downside to Murray being the No. 2 and Kendall redshirting? Well, Kendall won’t have a chance to redeem himself and possibly throw against that “basic Ohio State” defense he talked about last season. Oh, well.
2. The running back position is still undecided
The loss of Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon means an influx of questions in 2017 at the running back spot. Monday there were no answers.
“By Wednesday we’ll be closer,” Rile said. “We have that many battles. We’ve told these guys that it’s important that we start from scratch. That’s not lip-service. I’ve seen some things that are encouraging. In the live snaps I’ve seen, I’m encouraged. We got to go see them do it. Hopefully they’ll get some good opportunities. It’s a group we’ll continue to learn about as the year goes on.”
If you aren’t content about the Sooner running game, Monday wasn’t for you. It either means Abdul Adams, Rodney Anderson, Marcelias Sutton and Trey Sermon aren’t all that different and can’t separate from each other in practice or they are all really good and Riley can’t decide.
Just choose what kind of mood you’re in and make the decision for yourself. For now, as of Monday, Riley didn’t pacify any fears about the running game.
3. You’ve got some new food choices
Lots of new menu choices available this season at Oklahoma’s home games. Monday, the media got to sample a bit of it all. It was like the State Fair without the hassle and worrying about the weather.
Check it out. There are tons of new desserts including deep-fried Twinkies, ice cream sandwiches from Baked Bear, Okie Dough edible cookie dough and some watermelon pie.
OK, there’s more. Nachos served in a replica football helmet, turkey legs from Swadley’s, a sausage hot dog, Frank’s Red Hot flavored french fries and a chicken on a stick. There’s a new chicken-fried burger, too.
It was all pretty amazing, decadent and delicious. You can see some of the pictures here. However, while all of the food was really fun to sample, how cool would it have been if OU’s folks offered something that wasn’t traditional “game day” fare?
No doubt fans will be excited, but if the Sooners wanted to do something that would resonate nationally, get the school and the stadium some positive publicity, they could have added a few other items to the others listed above. How bout a black bean burger? They serve those at the Diamondback games in Phoenix. There’s a veggie cheesesteak sandwich at Phillies games. A salad with shrimp or chicken or tofu sounds good. So does a veggie wrap at a Nationals game in Washington D.C. Oklahoma could bill itself as one of the finest football teams in the country with some of the best food options, too.
There’s nothing wrong with a treat, but there’s also nothing wrong with not wanting to totally indulge either.
Not saying you can’t hunt down and find an alternative at Sooner games. In different areas of the stadium in the suites or in the lounges, there are options, but while unveiling all the new stuff today, OU could have helped itself by featuring some lower-calorie or lower-fat alternatives, too.
For a school which has made a big deal of hiring a nutritional coach, Tiffany Byrd, for its athletes, it would have been a great time to make a healthy statement.