NORMAN- Amidst the first string of consecutive regular season losses since 1999, the Oklahoma Sooners are searching for one thing: consistency.
After Oklahoma’s loss to Iowa State Saturday night, head coach Lincoln Riley raised a few eyebrows when he proclaimed “we’re close.”
With the Texas Longhorns looming, Riley said the Sooners would have to be more consistent to reach the level of play they aspire to.
“[We’ve had] some great flashes, a lot of potential,” Riley said. “As soon as we turn that potential into more consistent performances, the sooner we’re going to play the way that we want to play.”
Riley said to improve the consistency, the coaches are honing in on the aspects of the game the Sooners are excelling at, and looking to build on their performances from there.
“It starts in practice,” redshirt junior center and team captain Creed Humphrey said.
“Practicing more consistently, finishing more consistently, things like that.”
Humphrey said the play in the fourth quarter especially over the past two games has been poor and hasn’t lived up to the standards of the Oklahoma offense.
“We haven’t done our assignments across the board very well,” Humphrey said. “We kind of take our foot off the gas and that’s something that we’ve harped on this whole week that we cannot do.”
One area both Riley and Humphrey highlighted as in need of immediate improvement are the amount of penalties erasing big plays.
“I thought in the Kansas State game just a lot of mental errors as far as the penalties,” Riley said. “[Against Iowa State] we were much cleaner.”
Riley said he was most disappointed in a few penalties committed against the Cyclones when the Sooners didn’t need them to have a good play.
Humphrey said there were some penalties on the offensive line that stemmed from effort, but his position group must eliminate penalties on poor-effort plays.
“There’s also been some that you know just we’ve been straight up lazy and lazy in our technique,” he said. “It cost us big plays.”
The offensive line will have to do their part to keep redshirt freshman quarterback Spencer Rattler upright as he makes his first start in the Cotton Bowl against the Longhorns.
While quarterbacks making their first start have historically struggled in the Red River Showdown, Riley said he is pleased with the progress Rattler has made working through adversity already this season.
“He’s doing many things very very well and honestly, [Rattler is] a little bit ahead in some of the areas and maybe a little bit further ahead than I would have guessed at this point,” Riley said.
Following his first loss as a starter, Rattler carried the Oklahoma offense through much of the game against Iowa State. Completing 25-of-36 passes, Rattler threw for 300 yards and two touchdowns, adding another 20 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Rattler did throw another interception on the final drive of the game though, failing to bring his team back for the second straight week.
Despite the losses, Riley isn’t worried about his quarterback’s mentality.
“He’s rock solid. He is,” Riley said. “He’s a competitor, he knows he belongs in that arena.”
Rattler understands the magnitude of OU-Texas, and will be ready to face the challenge on Saturday, Riley said.
“You have to be ready for the intensity, the competitiveness, the environment, all of those things,” he said.
“You have to be mentally prepared for that because no matter where you play or who you play for, this one is a little bit different that way.”
Staring an 0-3 start to Big 12 play in the face, this year’s battle in the Cotton Bowl will be more urgent than ever. The Sooners have never won the Big 12 losing three conference games.
“We’ll look forward to having another great week of prep and go down there and hopefully be ready to play our best game on Saturday,” Riley said.
Cover photo courtesy of Ty Russell.