OU football: Lincoln Riley says spring game is more about handling game situations than scheme
NORMAN — Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said his focus in the spring game won’t necessarily be about seeing how the players handle the system.
“Probably more on just how do they handle the whole situation, being in that stadium, people watching, how do you handle the moment,” Riley said. “Are you able to really lean back and do the things that we’ve been coaching and we’ve been working on for all these spring practices or do you kind of revert back to old habits, do your own thing or not trust what’s been put in front of you?
“I think those are the biggest things individually that you watch with guys. You get a good feel for if they’re ready for prime time or not.”
Oklahoma’s spring game will start at 7:30 p.m. Friday, moved up a day thanks to frigid weather that’s expected to be in the area Saturday.
Gates will open at 5:30 p.m. with the pregame concert by Lee Brice set for 6:30 p.m.
Kelly’s surgery upcoming
Linebacker Caleb Kelly is still awaiting surgery on his injured knee after suffering the injury last week.
Riley said Tuesday that the surgery would happen “in the next few days.”
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“It’s not a minor injury,” Riley said. “So the positive is, he’s a tremendous worker. He’s a fast healer.”
While the injury is reportedly a torn anterior cruciate ligament, Riley wouldn’t rule out Kelly being on the field at some point this season, citing the year-old four-game rule that would allow Kelly to return late in the season and still maintain another season of eligibility.
Jones moves inside
Riley ticked off the names of several players who could fill in Kelly’s role as a weakside linebacker, including Ryan Jones.
Jones played in 11 games last year as a redshirt freshman, starting three, at outside linebacker.
But the same day as Kelly’s injury, Jones moved to the inside and is playing the weakside.
“He’s a good example of a lot of these guys that we’ve wanted to take a look at at some different positions,” Riley said.
Inside linebackers coach Brian Odom said Jones’ frame—the 6-foot-2, 233-pounder played in the secondary some in high school—made him an intriguing option on the inside.
“He’s an imposing figure,” Odom said. “The athleticism he has shown from the rush linebacker position has been pretty impressive. He’s done a lot of good things in the spring.
“His speed coupled with the size he has, it’s going to be a natural fit. It’s kind of new land to him a little bit, but he’s excited about the opportunity.”
Sophomore DaShaun White was the primary name mentioned for Kelly's replacement, with others including Bryan Mead, Levi Draper and Brian Asamoah.