NORMAN- Fresh off their 62-28 rout of the Texas Tech Red Raiders, the Oklahoma Sooners (4-2, 3-2) will return to Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium to host the Kansas Jayhawks (0-6, 0-5).
A few days after putting together another complete performance in conference play, Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley and defensive coordinator Alex Grinch spoke to the media to preview the matchup against the Jayhawks.
Home sweet home
Riley led off the press conference wondering if the Sooners had ever gone six straight weeks between home games.
The 42 day gap between home games actually ties the program record for days between home games. Oklahoma has gone 42 days between home games on three other occasions, in 1917, 1956 and 1987.
While happy to return to Norman, Grinch is focused more on getting the desired result this Saturday.
“Six weeks ago we didn’t hold up our end of the bargain in that stadium,” Grinch said.
The team is focused on improving to ensure they properly represent the University of Oklahoma on Saturday, Grinch said.
While this was the first time since the 1985 season the Sooners didn’t have a home game in October, the program is always happy to turn the calendar to what they have dubbed “Championship November.”
Oklahoma has won 21 consecutive games in the month of November, and has not lost in the month under Riley.
Clean football is winning football
Against Texas Tech, Oklahoma posted a season low two penalties costing the Sooners 15 yards. The two penalties bested their prior low set the week before against the Horned Frogs.
“We have really done a nice job of cutting down on the dumb penalties,” Riley said. “We’re just playing smarter. I think we’re growing.”
Riley noted how cutting down on penalties isn’t as easy as it sounds, but he’s been pleased with how his team has improved.
“If you’re not aggressive, you’re not going to beat anybody anyway so it’s much more difficult to find that fine line for a player than maybe what the casual fan would think, and I think our guys have gotten a better feel for it,” he said.
While the team has cut down on penalties, quarterback Spencer Rattler also hasn’t turned the ball over since the first half against Texas.
“He’s growing and getting better,” Riley said. “He’s starting to learn more the difference between being aggressive but also kind of doing it in a calculated way, learning to manage games better.”
“He’s certainly put more of a premium on that,” Riley said.
Rattler has not just cut down on the turnovers, but he hasn’t really made any decisions to put the ball in a risky situation the past two weeks. As Rattler continues to gain confidence in his offensive line and his receivers, the offense gets better and better and has cut into the costly mistakes committed against Kansas State and Iowa State.
Norwoods pair of interceptions a boost
The trio of turnovers forced against the Red Raiders ties last season’s outing against South Dakota for the most turnovers under Grinch.
Redshirt junior Tre Norwood hauled in a pair of tip-drill interceptions, marking his return to the starting lineup for the first time since 2018.
“It means a lot to have him back out there,” Grinch said. “I know it means a lot to him.”
Grinch noted how difficult of a road Norwood had to make it back to the field.
Norwood sustained his injury in the midst of adjusting to a new coaching staff, and then he had to deal with all of the struggles of this unique offseason.
“Your first football snaps should have been in spring football, you know, and all of a sudden now it’s gone until August,” Grinch said. “So there was a delay.”
It was worth the wait for Norwood who played well in the absence of Delarrin Turner-Yell against the Red Raiders.
“It’s like a free agent pickup,” Grinch said.
The Sooners will finally take the field again in Norman at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. The television broadcast has been bumped from ESPN2 to ESPN.
Pregame coverage for the matchup with the Jayhawks will start at 7 a.m. on 107.7 The Franchise. After the radio broadcast, stick with The Franchise for complete post game coverage.