OU football: Lincoln Riley says Sooners 'got a shot' to face Baylor this weekend after COVID shutdown
NORMAN — Turns out, OU’s success early in the season at avoiding COVID-19 was a double-edged sword.
Though the Sooners got close to not being able to play their Sept. 12 season-opener against Missouri State, many of those players who were held out then were due to contact tracing and not positive tests.
“We’re probably prisoners a little bit of some of the success that we had early with COVID and then at least until recently, such a large part of our roster was still eligible to be tested,” Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said Monday on the Big 12 teleconference. “That’s the way it goes. It’s hit us.
“Everybody’s gonna have to deal with it at certain points. This has been the hardest that it’s hit us.”
After a player tests positive and recovers from COVID-19, they don’t have to be tested for three months unless symptoms are present.
The Sooners’ scheduled game against West Virginia last weekend was postponed due to OU’s COVID numbers and Riley said Monday that he didn’t yet have a sense if Saturday’s home game against Baylor, scheduled for 7 p.m., would be able to go on as scheduled.
“We got a shot,” Riley said. “We’ll see. I don’t know that I’m optimistic or pessimistic or anything. It’s just kind of what you do right now. You get through the week and see how it goes.
“Hopefully we can get our numbers headed back in a more favorable trend, but we’ll just have to see how it goes.”
- Related to this story
- Article: OU football: From early-morning film sessions to Orange Bowl after-party, 2000 was a special Sooner season
- Article: Carlson: What happened to Oklahoma State's defense? Jim Knowles and Cowboys must find the answer
- Article: Tramel: Most Big 12 football tiebreakers favor the Sooners
- Article: OU football: South Carolina candidate Shane Beamer could be the first branch of Lincoln Riley coaching tree
- Article: OU football vs. Baylor: Broadcast info, betting lines, matchup breakdown
- Article: Tramel: Why Big 12 football title race could come down to margin of victory for Sooners and Co.
- Article: Will Ohio State or USC play enough games to warrant playoff inclusion?
- Article: OSU football: How Chuba Hubbard, Tylan Wallace and Cowboys' NFL prospects stack up
- Article: Can West Virginia's defense hold up against ISU & OU?
- Article: Bob Stoops keeping 'low profile' while helping Sooners' coaching staff
- Article: College Football Playoff rankings: Iowa State jumps to No. 9 in playoff rankings, OU stays 11th
- Article: Playoff committee chairman Gary Barta explains why Iowa State moved from 13th to ninth
- Article: In a 6-way tie for second in the Big 12, West Virginia is the winner
- Article: Opinion: 5 burning questions as college football coaching carousel speeds up
- Article: OU football: In addition to Bob Stoops, a look at some other potential substitute coaches for Sooners
- Article: OSU football: Old pals Mike Gundy, Gary Patterson to meet for ninth time
- Video: OU Football: The last stretch
Last week, just a day before the game against the Mountaineers was pushed back to Dec. 12, Sooners offensive lineman Adrian Ealy praised the job the team had done managing the virus, even though he warned that the successes could be erased quickly.
“We’ve been doing a great job. You rarely see anything with us and COVID, because we press it every day, you know, ‘Wear your mask,’” Ealy said. “It’s not unusual, but that’s something we gotta do. That’s the life we live in now. If we want to make this run, that’s one of the biggest parts to being able to make it.
“Numbers go up, we ain’t gonna be able to do that.”
The Sooners need to play at least one of their final two games to remain eligible for the Big 12 Championship Game.
“We knew from the beginning that this was going to be a marathon, not a sprint, that there was going to be no scenario that came up where it would be acceptable to get away from COVID precautions,” Riley said. “There’s not a day that goes by in this facility where our players and our staff aren’t constantly reminded about that.”
Riley said that though some players are being held out due to contact tracing, the bigger concern currently was positive tests.
That could be a positive for the Sooners’ hopes of playing Saturday. While a player who tests positive and recovers can return to action after going through the Big 12 testing protocols, a player held out due to contact tracing who doesn’t test positive must sit out for two weeks.
After starting the season 0-2 in conference play, if the Sooners win two games, they’re likely to be in the Big 12 title game with a chance to win a sixth consecutive conference title.
“It’s still a very motivated team,” Riley said. “There’s no question. They’re disappointed to not be in position to play last week. I don’t think this dulls the excitement or anticipation of the opportunities that we have coming up. I don’t think it does in any way. It’s just another thing that we have to overcome.”
Ryan Aber covers OU athletics for The Oklahoman. You can send your story ideas to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @ryaber. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.