Red Tops White Under Friday Night Lights
|Score By Quarter|
NORMAN — Several Oklahoma football players put together some impressive statistics during Friday night's annual spring game, but the most impressive number to Sooners third-year head coach Lincoln Riley was the announced crowd of 50,228 at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
An inclement weather forecast pushed the game up to 7:30 p.m. Friday from its originally scheduled Saturday start. Despite having less than three days to handle the logistical nightmare, the final production was beyond expectations.
“What a great night,” Riley said. “I don't know if I've ever enjoyed a spring game as much as I did that one right there. The first thing I would like to say is a huge thank you to our fans, the Sooner Nation. I don't know how many fan bases ... after you literally change the game day ... and then you have an atmosphere like we did tonight. Absolutely phenomenal.”
Riley said he was so impressed with the crowd he is considering holding future spring games at night.
“You could tell the team fed off it,” Riley said of Friday's atmosphere. “They were excited to play. What a fun night. This may become an annual tradition.”
Playing for honorary coach and 2018 Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray, graduate transfer quarterback Jalen Hurts completed 11 of 14 passes for 174 yards and one touchdown and added a rushing score to lead the Red squad to a 35-14 victory over the White.
“I thought he handled it well, made some nice plays in some scramble situations and made some good decisions in the pocket,” Riley said of Hurts.
"What a great night. I don't know if I've ever enjoyed a spring game as much as I did that one right there."
- Lincoln Riley
“Any opportunity I get just to step on the field, I say it's a good deal,” said Hurts, who transferred from Alabama. “I mean I've been playing the game my whole life, so any opportunity I get the chance to step on the (field), I try to take advantage of it. They always say the moment you stop getting those butterflies, those feelings before the game, you should stop playing. ... The environment of it all was fun. Great fans, great enthusiasm. I think we continue to take steps this spring.”
The Red and White rosters were chosen by the coaching staff and balanced as evenly as possible. The game was played in two 20-minute halves and a traditional scoring system was used.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Tanner Mordecai threw for 153 yards (12 of 24) and one touchdown while redshirt junior quarterback Tanner Schafer completed 6 of 7 passes for 87 yards and two scores.
Sophomore running back T.J. Pledger led all rushers with 51 yards and one touchdown on seven carries while redshirt freshman Jeremiah Hall had 48 yards on four carries (12.0 yards per rush).
Redshirt senior Lee Morris had 79 receiving yards on three catches (26.3 average) and one touchdown. Freshman Trejan Bridges had 76 receiving yards on three receptions (25.3) and fellow freshman Theo Wease added three catches for 68 yards (22.7) and two touchdowns.
Defensively, redshirt junior defensive back Chanse Sylvie and redshirt junior linebacker Bryan Mead led the way with 4.5 tackles each while redshirt sophomore safety Justin Broiles had an interception and sophomore defensive back Brendan Radley-Hiles had a sack and a fumble recovery.
Under the direction of new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, the Sooners' defense is looking to cause more turnovers and react to plays with their athleticism.
“We've had quite a few (turnovers in practice),” Riley said. “You see the emphasis taking hold. You really do. We got our hands on a lot of balls. We had the interception. We had the fumble there at the end. ... I thought we were pretty active, especially the front, and I think that's where those takeaways always start. You're disruptive up front. You don't allow teams to run the ball. You put pressure on the quarterback to make things happen, and we did that. When the defense played well tonight was when we got pressure.”
Honorary coaches for the White team were 2003 Lombardi Award winner Tommie Harris, 1986 and '87 consensus All-America tight end Keith Jackson and Jacksonville Jaguar wide receiver Dede Westbrook. Honorary coaches for the Red team were 1974 and '75 All-America running back Joe Washington, current NFL offensive linemen Orlando Brown and Lane Johnson and Murray.
The Sooners have one spring practice remaining, which will be held Tuesday.