Sooners Hold First Practice Under Riley

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Mike Houck
By Mike Houck
Assistant A.D. / Strategic Communications
JULY 31, 2017

NORMAN — It's official. The Lincoln Riley era has begun.

The Oklahoma football team opened training camp under the direction of its new head coach Monday evening with a two-hour, 15-minute practice in superb weather conditions. It was the first of 29 scheduled on-field workouts before the Sooners open their season Sept. 2 at home against UTEP.

It also marked the first time since the 1998 season that Bob Stoops wasn't patrolling the practice field as OU's head coach.

But for Riley, who served as OU's offensive coordinator the last two years, not much felt dissimilar on Monday.

"There were a couple differences for me as far as being with the special teams a little bit more and around the defensive guys more when I could," said Riley, who was promoted June 7 when Stoops retired, "but I would say 95 percent of it felt like most (practices). It's always exciting, regardless of that (coaching) change, to get back out here with the guys. They've been chomping at the bit to get out here."

Quarterback Baker Mayfield said he heard from players on both sides of the ball who liked everything about Monday's workout.

"It's always exciting, regardless of that (coaching) change, to get back out here with the guys. They've been chomping at the bit to get out here."
Lincoln Riley

"I heard a lot of guys say that was a smooth practice and it went really well," said Mayfield, who has accounted for the most touchdowns (89) through the first 26 games of an OU career. "I think it was very organized and had just a different energy. Not that it was louder or anything like that, I just think it was more focused. I think that's good, because all the yelling and trash talking will come later. Right now people are just focused on working hard."

Asked if he noticed a difference with Riley at the OU helm instead of Stoops, Mayfield indicated the biggest change he observed came at the conclusion of practice, not during it.

"When you thought about it, yeah, but it really didn't seem that much different because of all of the same coaches and the same guys around," explained Mayfield. "I thought about it more at the end. It was a little weird that (Coach Stoops) wasn't the one who was calling it up at the end of practice. But when practice was going on, it felt similar. It's still Oklahoma."

Like Mayfield, Riley said he was pleased with Monday's camp opener.

"It was a good practice," he said. "The goal the first couple of times out is just getting their feet underneath them, getting used to being on the practice field. You're not in pads, so you want to get good, fast work, a lot of mental work; start to set the tone, the tempo and the mentality of the way we expect to be as a team."

Riley and the Sooners will be back on the practice field Tuesday.

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