Oklahoma Football: Riley says “mentality wasn’t right” in ...

222 07/01/2022

The Oklahoma Sooners went into halftime with the game seemingly out of reach in their season opener with the Tulane Green Wave. With a 37-14 lead after a 23-point second quarter, the Sooners seemed poised to run away with a blowout win.

The Tulane defense and quarterback Michael Pratt had other ideas, outscoring the Sooners 21-3 in the second half to make the contest a one-score game. After recovering an onside kick with just over two minutes to go, the Green Wave had a chance for a go-ahead score, but the Sooners came up with a fourth-down stop to essentially win the game.

A win is a win. But one can’t help feeling a bit let down by the Oklahoma Sooners’ second-half performance. In his opening remarks to the media after the game, Lincoln Riley expressed some disappointment in how the final 30 minutes of the game transpired.

“In the second half, I think clearly our team felt like the game was over,” Riley said. “That’s my job to make sure our mentality was right. I don’t think it was.”

As the second half unfolded, it was evident the Sooners kept waiting for Tulane to fold, and it never did. As Riley mentioned, the Sooners didn’t have the right mentality; that was clear. They weren’t as locked in or as crisp as in the second quarter, and Tulane took advantage.

“I think we were playing well at that point, and it separated a little bit in the game, and you could see that we weren’t quite the same team coming out,” Riley continued.

Riley took responsibility for the team’s mentality and the “dumb coaching decisions,” particularly the fourth-down call in the second half. In hindsight, Riley believed it wasn’t a smart call because of where they were on the field.

Though it didn’t go the way he thought it would go, Riley tried to find the positive amid the things they have to work on. Riley praised the way his team finished the game despite play not going well for them for much of the second half.

I’m proud of the way we finished. Football is always a game of momentum. And when it’s going the way it was for us, you’ve got to find your best at the end. And we did a great job of getting the stop defensively and being able to run out the clock with the two runs to finish the game. There’s a lot we’re excited about, plenty we clearly have to improve. That’s the journey. That’s what these seasons are about. They never go exactly like you think. You get this litmus test of where we are. We’re a football team that shows some of flashes of having a chance to be a good team, but we clearly have a ton of work to do, all of us, if we’re going to reach our potential.

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