Oklahoma OC Lincoln Riley adds ground game to Air Raid

The Associated Press - October 21, 2016 12:05 pm

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) – Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley has taken some of the air out of the Air Raid, and the results have been spectacular.

Riley was hired away from East Carolina last year to take Oklahoma back to its pass-happy days when coach Bob Stoops first arrived with offensive coordinator Mike Leach in 1999. Things appeared to be on track last season until he ran into a road block against Texas.

Once Riley put a little more ground and pound into Oklahoma’s high-octane attack, everything clicked. The Sooners reached the College Football Playoff, Riley won the Broyles Award as the nation’s best assistant coach at age 32 and he got a big raise.

“He’s a very bright guy, and he gets it,” Stoops said.

This year, the Sooners struggled in September, losing games against Houston and Ohio State. Once again, Riley recovered with the run game. The Sooners are averaging 226.7 yards rushing per game in Big 12 play, and the Sooners lead the league in scoring offense (45 points per game) and total offense (572 yards). The 16th-ranked Sooners enter Saturday’s game at Texas Tech seeking their 11th straight conference win.

“Lincoln has shown in the last two years here the willingness and effectiveness of the running game, or willingness to run it.” Stoops said. “It’s a big part of what we do, and I think it sets up a lot in the passing game.”

Riley has occasional bouts of stubbornness, especially against elite teams. In losses to Clemson, Houston and Ohio State the past two years, the Sooners averaged just 32 attempts and 105 yards rushing. He acknowledged after the Houston game that there were opportunities to run the ball, and that he got a bit impatient at times. The Sooners ran 12 times for minus-13 yards in the second half.

 

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