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Post-Lincoln Riley’s first season in Oklahoma couldn’t have been worse

Post-Lincoln Riley’s first season in Oklahoma couldn’t have been worse

Brent Venables

Brent Venables
Photo: Getty Images

While Ohio State fans have the most recent grudge against Lincoln Riley, Caleb Williams and USC, the fan base still most upset by the Trojans’ success this year resides in Norman. Williams was supposed to be Heisman’s third Crimson-and-Cream winner under Riley, and it’s OU that should be one conference title away from a college football playoff berth.

Instead of a fourth trip to the playoffs, Oklahoma is 6-6 and will play in an untold postseason game. Right now, the forecast is calling them for the guaranteed rate bowl against Wisconsin. If they can’t beat the Badgers, it will be the Sooners’ first losing season since 1998, when John Blake oversaw a 5-6 campaign, was fired and replaced by Bob Stoops.

First year coach Brent VenablesClemson’s longtime defensive coordinator, hasn’t been left with an empty closet, and even though some players, including Williams, followed Riley to Southern California, it shouldn’t have been so bad.

The only things Venables really needed to correct were quarterback position and defense, but fans would have really understood if he had gone for one for two, with the team improving on the side of the ball that would be the strength of his new coach.

Not only did the defense not improve, but it got worse. The Sooners were 100th in college football in points allowed, 109th in ground defenseand 107th in pass defense. They have lost three of their last four games against unranked teams. Over a three-week span, from late September to early October, the Sooners were outscored 145-58. Granted, two of these teams are vying for the Big 12 title and the other is Texas, it’s still alarming to read.

The last time an OU team was beaten so badly for three straight weeks was in 1997 when they lost to Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M by a combined score. from 156-21. If you’re an Oklahmoa fan (and still reading this), you’re probably wondering who the fuck is this guy and what he’s for.

In addition to pointing out the weak spots in a really shitty season — the only other program to give up more than 50 points at Texas Tech this year was Murray State — I’m saying life happens to you fast, and Venables needs to fix that soon or OR is at risk of jumping aboard a carousel of coaches that is kind to very few schools, no matter how prestigious.

After the loss to the Red Raiders, OU main receiver and team manager Marvin Mims didn’t openly enough reject his new head coach’s changes on the program, but he said he had a hard time adjusting to the cultural changes.

“The biggest thing about him is just – I wouldn’t call it culture shock. But, you know, he brought a lot of things that players have to adapt to, especially Coach Schmitty ( strength coach Jerry Schmidt) coming back. I mean, there’s no, you know, tipping on the line and stuff like that. You have to do the things that he wants you to do the way that he wants you to do them. Basically, that’s the most important thing, it’s just to adapt to that.

It’s not fair to shout “You had a job” at Venables, given the enormous difficulty of successfully coaching college football in the era of transfer portals and NIL deals. Expecting a guy who has never been a head coach to do what Riley or Ryan Day did when they inherited all the players and resources from their hugely successful predecessors was always too much. It’s as if Dillon Gabriel would replace Williams and win nine or 10 games. OK, that’s not quite it, but you know what I’m saying.

While Oklahoma lived in the top 10 recruiting rankings under Riley, it’s really what the coach got out of his quarterbacks that sets OU apart from other perennial powerhouses. No Oklahoma team led by Riley finished above 29th in average points allowed, and more often than not that number was 60.

For some reason, the Sooners couldn’t get the powerhouse athletes that Alabama, Clemson, LSU and Georgia are producing. If that’s what Venables needs to put his defense on par with the Tigers units that have destroyed ACC game plans for years, it may take a few years to re-identify the club. crew.

Don’t laugh too hard, Texas fans. You also have a lot to figure out before jumping into the deep end and swimming with SEC teams week after week. Both of these programs must be performing near the peak of their potential as they move south, or they’ll struggle to maintain — or, in UT’s case, return to — this lofty status quo.

There’s not much else that could have gone wrong with Norman since Riley and Williams rebounded, but if the duo go back to CFP and add the only individual material that matters, it’ll be like twisting the knife, throw salt in the wound, and kick fans while they’re all rolled into one.

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