NORMAN — Oklahoma’s season is moving forward without two of its most experienced players.
Running back Trey Sermon and defensive end Kenneth Mann will miss the season with injuries, Lincoln Riley announced Monday. Both left Saturday's game against Iowa State after getting hurt.
They’ve participated in a combined 77 games.
Sermon, a junior, hasn’t put up big numbers this season with 54 carries for 385 yards and four touchdowns, but was a reliable ball carrier and played in every game since joining the program. Historically he’s helped OU close games in second halves.
The Sooners have running back depth with Kennedy Brooks, Rhamondre Stevenson and T.J. Pledger all available.
“We hate losing Trey,” Riley said, “but Kennedy has been a workhorse for us before and certainly we have a lot of confidence in Rhamondre and T.J. as well.”
Mann recorded five tackles in six games since returning from a preseason injury. He missed the first three games.
“They've not only been a big part of this team, but a big part of a lot of teams and a lot of great memories around here, so obviously sick, heartbroken for those two because they both put a ton into this program,” Riley said.
Riley said right tackle Adrian Ealy's status is still unknown after his injury and that tight end Grant Calcaterra will not be available.
Linebacker Caleb Kelly dressed out for the first time this season on Saturday.
“He has done really well,” Riley said. “He’s knocking the rust off, and I think will be ready to help us here pretty quick.”
• Beat the traffic: A number of fans left the Iowa State game early, including many students in the third quarter followed by other ticket holders early in the fourth quarter.
That made for a more quiet stadium as Iowa State went on a 20-point run.
Riley was sure to point out first that it’s the job of coaches and players to perform no matter what the atmosphere. But it’s noticeable when the stadium energy level dips.
“That is certainly our job, and I would never put that on our fans or anybody else’s fans or any atmosphere or any stadium,” Riley said. “Now, the flipside of that, like I’ve said up here many times, we have one of the great stadiums in America, we have one of the great fan bases in America, and when it’s rocking in there, does our team feel that? Hell yeah, they do. And when it’s not, do they feel that? Hell yeah, they do.”
• Six-day window: OU’s final home game this season will not be a morning kickoff.
The Nov. 23 game against TCU has been slated for a six-day window, and will be begin at 2:30 p.m. (FS1) or 7 p.m. (FOX or FS1).
• Ready for the road?: OU fell flat in its first true road test, losing 48-41 at Kansas State.
Saturday’s primetime game at No. XX Baylor will be an equally hostile environment, with ESPN’s College Gameday setting up on site.
Will the Sooners be better prepared this time?
“It is going to be a tough environment, but it’s not something we’re not used to,” defensive tackle Neville Gallimore said. “It’s about us being focused on the task at hand and making sure everybody is bought in. If everybody can do their job to the best of their ability, we don’t need nothing else, nothing more. Everybody at their best and play sound football, then it will take care of itself.”
• Coming on late: Tre Norwood and Tre Brown entered OU’s defensive fold late in the 2017 season. Are there defensive backs on the current roster who could do the same?
Riley was asked if freshmen safety Jeremiah Criddell and cornerback Woodi Washington fit that mold.
“I think we’ve got a number of guys that are right on the edge right now,” Riley said. “Some of the injuries we’ve had at different positions, you get here late in the year and guys are going to have some opportunities. They need to be ready to make the most of them. We’ve worked hard behind the scenes to develop those guys. A lot of those guys are doing some things that really get you excited. For them, it’s a matter now of getting the opportunity and being ready to jump in and seize it.”