NORMAN, Okla. — In four days, Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley hopes to see the largest crowd to ever watch the Sooners play a spring game. There is a litany of side attractions in conjunction with the game itself.
If the game itself is what you’re interested don’t be late. Riley said on Tuesday the competitive game will be in the first half.
“The game will end after the first half as far as the competitive part,” he said. “Then we’ll come back out and still get plenty of work done — fans will still have plenty to see in the second half — but we’ll declare a winner and loser at the end of the first half.”
On Monday, the Sooners announced the rosters for the actual game. The coaches did their best to split the teams evenly and former Oklahoma All-American players and current NFL standouts Adrian Peterson and Trent Williams will serve as captains of the respective teams. Riley said both will get to call some plays.
The goal was to create a competitive environment for the players and the fans.
“It’s kind of created a little bit of buzz throughout the building,” Riley said. “They’re starting to kind of talk smack back and forth a little bit. They definitely want to win.
“We’ve got a little meal planned for the winners and for the losers after it. So they’re pretty excited about the competitive nature of it. Be exciting for our fans, where it’s not a complicated scoring system, so our fans can come and follow it like they would a game, get some of the exciting situations and competitive situations you really want. And I think it’s exciting for recruits. It’s gonna help create a better atmosphere, be more game-like.”
The actual game is a departure from what former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops used to do with the spring game. There tended to be adjusted scoring system and that pitted the offense against the defense.
Alums were easy to Oklahoma to get
Riley didn’t have a problem convincing Peterson and Williams to serve as coaches for the spring game.
“Those guys are so low maintenance, you know, they were so good to us,” Riley said. “We reached out and initially just wanted to for sure have them be a part of it. As we got a list of who we thought was gonna be here we started going through it. We had this idea of having the guest head coaches for the game. So we brought it to those two guys and they were able to do it. They were excited about it. Shoot, they may be more excited about it than all of us. They get a chance to put on a polo and visor and go live that side of it for a little bit.”
There will be a large contingent of current NFL players that will be in Norman this weekend. There is a dinner to honor Stoops on Friday and that event guaranteed many of his former players would come for the event.
During the game, current Philadelphia Eagles tackle Lane Johnson and Baltimore Ravens safety Tony Jefferson will serve as assistant coaches.
— Lane Johnson (@Lanejohnson65) April 9, 2018
Marquise Brown is ready to run
One of the spring game attractions is selected students will race Oklahoma receiver Marquise Brown in a 50-yard sprint. The students get a 10-yard head start.
Brown plans on winning.
“I want to show them what an average 4.2 (40-yard dash time) looks like,” he said on Tuesday. “I wanna take it easy on them.”
Busy week for Kyler Murray
Oklahoma baseball coach Skip Johnson kept Murray out of the lineup for the Tuesday night game against Arkansas Little Rock. The quarterback/outfielder is battling an illness. He did go through football practice on Tuesday.
This week, the Sooners have a home game against Oral Roberts on Wednesday. They host Texas in a three-game series beginning on Friday.
Murray could play in the four baseball games, practice on Thursday and be a full participant in the spring game on Saturday.
The baseball season was a struggle when Murray played both sports last season. He only hit .122 in 2017 and didn’t have an extra-base hit.
This season, he’s hitting at .298 clip, tied for team lead in home runs with 5 for the Sooners (23-11). He’s started in center field in 28 of Oklahoma’s 34 games.
Last weekend was the first conflict for Murray. He flew back to Norman after the first game of Oklahoma’s series against TCU so he could participate in the football team’s scrimmage on Saturday. He then flew back to Fort Worth, Texas, Saturday night for the Sooners’ doubleheader against the Horned Frogs on Sunday.
“I think the whole process has been smoother for him this time,” Riley said. “Doing it last year, it’s not such a shock to his system. He understands he’s got to balance both. I think we’ve done a better job — us, Skip and the baseball guys — creating a schedule not only just practice and games, but also recovery, getting his school work done. I think we all just have a better feel. It was so new to us last year. So everybody did better and he’s handled the process better. And yeah, it sounds like he’s playing extremely well for those guys.”