White Edges Red in Blustery Spring Game
|Score By Quarter|
NORMAN — The annual "Spring Game" qualified as a misnomer Saturday afternoon, which explains why Oklahoma football coach Lincoln Riley opened his post-game news conference by thanking the 52,102 fans and past OU greats who braved wintery conditions to attend.
"There was some challenging weather today as we know, but that's springtime in Oklahoma," Riley said after the White team (Team Peterson) defeated the Red team (Team Williams) 10-9 in overtime. "I thought the fan support and the atmosphere, especially throughout that entire first half, was awesome. I thought our team fed off it."
A day after temperatures were in the mid-80s locally, loyal fans braved a wind chill in the 30s and wind gusts reaching 40 miles-per-hour.
In his first Spring practice as head coach, Riley changed the game format with balanced Red and White rosters chosen by the coaching staff and the traditional scoring system was used.
"I loved the in-game situations we created by splitting it up and going against each other," Riley said. "The game actually went exactly how we drew it up. We were sitting there earlier this week saying what if it's a tie, how are we going to break the tie? I said, 'Of course we're going to do overtime, but what were the chances that it actually went to overtime?' I was actually kind of happy … I wanted there to be overtime. That was a great learning experience for our guys. They handled the competition really well."
The game technically ended after the first half with the score tied at 3. Each team scored a touchdown in overtime, but Team Peterson (with Adrian Peterson serving as honorary head coach) prevailed by denying Team Williams (coached by Trent Williams) on a two-point conversion.
The quarterback battle between redshirt junior Kyler Murray and redshirt sophomore Austin Kendall proved intriguing, but passing was hampered by the windy conditions. "It challenged us a little bit," Riley said of the wind. "We did some decent things throwing in it."
Murray completed 11 of 21 passes for 85 yards while Kendall completed 11 of 18 passes for 134 yards and one touchdown with one interception. Murray rushed for 35 yards and Kendall ran for 32.
"It's neck-and-neck right now, without a doubt," Riley said of the race for starting quarterback. "Austin's a mobile guy. There's not any quarterback in the country probably that's as mobile as Kyler, so I don't look at it that way. But relative to other players, Austin moves well. He's able to move around in the pocket and make a lot of plays. He's done that all camp. He's back healthier than he's ever been, moving better than he's ever been. He's a person, when he's back there, they (opponents) are going to have to account for him in a different way than Kyler, but certainly effective."
Redshirt freshman running back Kennedy Brooks turned some heads, rushing for 109 yards on 11 carries. Brooks frequently sashayed to the line of scrimmage, then suddenly squirted free for substantial gains.
"That's kind of what he does every day in practice - 'There he goes again.' That's kinda him," said a smiling Riley. "He's got a unique running style. He kind of slides through there kind of easy, then all the sudden he's out. He's pretty smooth. He's a really natural runner."
As promising as Brooks' future appears to be, he is far from the finished product. "We've got to get the other parts of his game to continue to develop," Riley explained. "You could tell what he did in high school, and they were pretty smart. They handed it to him about 30 times a game and he got about 300 yards a game in the best classification of ball in Dallas. You can tell what he does well. He's kind of like how (former OU All-American running back) Samaje (Perine) was. He's got to develop the rest of his game and become more rounded, like Samaje became."
The four-star recruit redshirted last season after undergoing left shoulder surgery in mid-August. No such problems since, however. "He's had a nice spring," Riley said. "He's healthy, he's starting to get some confidence. I'm proud of the spring he's had, especially the second half here."
With 7:58 left in the first quarter, sophomore running back Trey Sermon suffered a knee injury running around left end and was helped off the field and immediately taken into the locker room. "I don't think it's serious," Riley said of Sermon, who rushed for 744 yards and five touchdowns on 121 carries last season. "We'll look into it but early indications look positive."
Starting running back Rodney Anderson was held out and did not play.