🏈 Ida's effect on OU's opener
When and where Sooners' highly anticipated 2021 season starts remains unclear
✌🏽 Happy Monday, friends. Let’s ride.
🤔 Trivia: Since 2000, how many times has Oklahoma opened its season with a true road game?[Answer in footnotes]
Where do we begin?
First and foremost, my thoughts are with everyone affected by Hurricane Ida.
A football game between Oklahoma and Tulane is still likely to happen this weekend, but its uncertain if the contest will be at Yulman Stadium due to the conditions in New Orleans.
Here’s what we know about the Sooners’ season opener as of early Monday morning:
OU and Tulane are still scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday in New Orleans as planned but this could easily change (and I’d anticipate we have a better answer sooner rather than later).
OU athletics director Joe Castiglione acknowledged the situation in a statement this past Friday, which revealed contingency plans have already been developed. An except from Castiglione’s statement:
"… In the spirit of proactive planning and communication, I have been in regular contact with Tulane Athletics Director Troy Dannen for the past month. … It is too early to speculate, but we will continue to monitor the situation and be prepared to take necessary actions as appropriate.”
Tulane’s football team is currently in Birmingham, Alabama, where it will stay and practice until power is restored in New Orleans.
Tulane’s campus is equipped with backup power generators in the event they become necessary.
“Oklahoma Breakdown” podcast host Gabe Ikard reports OU’s hotel accommodations in New Orleans do not have a backup power system.
Worth noting: OU last played Tulane in 2017 in Norman and is scheduled to host Tulane in 2024. The Sooners and Green Wave agreed to the three-game series in 2015.
💨 Running low
It looks like OU’s running backs room will enter the 2021 season with just two scholarship players — team veteran Kennedy Brooksand incoming Tennessee transfer Eric Gray.
How exactly did OU get here?
Seth McGowan and Mikey Henderson were dismissed from the team this offseason after felony arrest warrants were issued for both men on complaints of robbery, conspiracy and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
Marcus Major is reportedly ineligible due to “academic issues,” according to SoonerScoop.com’s Carey Murdock on Aug. 24.
LSU transfer Tre Bradford is reportedly no longer with the team, OUDaily.com’s Austin Curtright reported last Thursday.
What does this mean?: Both Brooks and Gray will presumably receive more carries than they would have and will be running behind an unproven offensive line. COVID-19 protocols could also force OU to become overly protective of its two-man band at running back. While real ones know Lincoln Riley doesn’t actually run an air-raid offense as many would love you to believe, he might have to fake one behind the arm of Spencer Rattler.
So, who’s left?: Barring any position changes, OU will have to rely on walk-on running backs Jaden Knowles, who showed some promise in OU’s 2021 spring game, and Todd Hudson for third- and fourth-string snaps.
Could someone make the switch?: Brian Darby, who's on scholarship at receiver, is a decent guess to switch roles, considering his experience at running back in high school. But Rileyhas yet to say anything publicly about the situation.
3️⃣ Players to watch: Tulane
A few names you might hear when the Sooners meet the Green Wave on Saturday:
Cameron Carroll, running back: The speedy redshirt sophomore rushed for 741 yards and 12 touchdowns last season and is expected to be one of the American Athletic Conference’s better running backs. He is the son of Herman Carroll, who played football for Mississippi State and the New Orleans Saints.
Jha'Quan Jackson, receiver: The Luling, Louisiana, native, who’s coming off of a minor knee injury this fall, can torment teams in multiple ways. He’s a skilled punt and kickoff returner and one of the Green Wave’s top threats in their passing game. His uncle is Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed.
Nick Anderson, linebacker: The 5-foot-10 junior is an important piece to a talented Tulane linebacker room. He finished the 2020 season with 10.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. Anderson, who is an early all-conference candidate, has a pretty cool story. He was a two-star prospect coming out of high school, according to 247Sports.com’s rankings, and spent one semester in junior college before landing with Tulane.
📱 Tulane must-follow: @FearTheWaveBlog
🏆 Rat poison!
ESPN’s College Gameday has OU winning it all. During the show’s season-opening broadcast this past Saturday, Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard predicted OU will win this season’s national title. Rece Davis didn’t officially make a pick but said he also had the Sooners taking home the program’s eighth national title.
“I got Oklahoma and Lincoln Riley finally [breaking through] with all these tweaks. Every time they get there, they get their doors blown out.They've made adjustments to the defense. [I predict] they beat Alabama in the national championship.”
Both David Pollack and Lee Corso picked Georgia to end its long championship drought. Corso does have the Bulldogs beating the Sooners, however, in the national title game.
👀 Eyes elsewhere
Former Oklahoma quarterback Tanner Mordecai has earned the starting job at SMU, according to the Dallas Morning News. Mordecai appeared in four games last season, passing for 395 yards and two touchdowns. [via Dallas Morning News]
Texas will reportedly go with Hudson Card to start the season at quarterback. He won the job over Casey Thompson, the son and younger brother of former OU quarterbacks Charles and Kendal Thompson, respectively. [via 247Sports.com]
A high school football team in Ohio apparently lied to ESPN to get its game against IMG Academy on one of its channels. This entire is absolutely wild and worth a read. [via USA TODAY FTW]
⏰ On this day
Seven years ago today, Trevor Knight and the fourth-ranked Sooners beat Louisiana Tech 48-16 to open the 2014 season. Keith Ford and Alex Ross each rushed for two touchdowns. Ross also had an 80-yard kickoff return in the blowout victory. [🎥 Click here for highlights]
Two. Tulsa in 2002 and UTEP in 2012. (OU's 2016 game in Houston doesn't count because it was at NRG Stadium and not the Cougars' true home venue.)
A popular theory circulating social media is that OU and Tulane might just play in Birmingham, considering UAB isn’t at home this Saturday. It’s just a theory at this point, much like the folks thinking the game will move to Norman.
Brooks rushed for 1000+ yards in 2018 and 2019 before sitting out last season for personal reasons.
OU’s offensive line lost center Creed Humphrey and tackle Adrian Ealy to the NFL. While OU lacks experience at those critical positions, there is plenty of optimism that OU’s offensive line is in much better shape after a full spring and summer.
Micah Bowens, the Penn State quarterback transfer, has some wheels. This is pure speculation but would it surprise anyone if Riley developed a package for him? We should know more after Riley’s weekly press conference.
Your regular reminder that OU led Clemson at halftime in the 2015 College Football Playoff semifinals, gave Georgia everything it could handle in 2017 and had a disastrous start against Alabama in 2018 before waking up to put together a respectable performance. A lot of “what ifs” to ponder, yes, but let’s not act like OU’s 2019 defeat to LSU has been the case every time it goes to the playoff.
Not sure OU fans could mentally handle this.