Lincoln Riley respects David Beaty and calls the Kansas coach’s difficulties resurrecting the Jayhawk program difficult to watch.
“There’s no doubt been some challenges [at KU]. I think we all recognize that,” said Riley, whose brother Garrett is KU’s tight ends/fullbacks coach.
Beaty will coach the season’s final two games, then go his own way after being dismissed Nov. 4. He is 6-40 at KU, but inherited a program in disrepair, with no more than three wins in the five seasons before his arrival.
Riley’s Oklahoma team is favored by 33 1/2 points against the Jayhawks on Saturday. With the exception of a rare Big 12 victory — TCU this season and Texas in 2016 — KU has been one of the worst Power 5 football programs nationally, hampered by lack of funding for scholarships and generally considered a walk-over in league play.
Riley acknowledged the Big 12 could benefit from a turnaround in Lawrence.
“I think it's always important, you know. Kinda like with what Matt [Campbell’s] done at Iowa State, has been really, really good for this league,” Riley said. “Coach [Bill] Snyder and what he did and has done at Kansas State, taking that program from where it was and it being relevant for so many years, been good for this league. You want everybody to be good. No doubt it's important.
“We're competitors but at the same time, we also are gonna support this league and the better teams we have in it, the better.”
• Press: OU’s pass coverage, specifically when defensive backs play well off the line of scrimmage, has drawn scrutiny since the Oklahoma State game.
OSU threw for 501 yards, a season high vs. the Sooners.
Interim defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill said allowing more cushion can help in determining routes, and that the Sooners are probably playing more man coverage than people think.
“If you press, most of the time you will get a fade, deep fade or post. We know that,” McNeill said. “We have times where we have tightened down and be in man. To a normal eye, you wouldn’t notice it. There are certain things where you have to be right up in someone’s face for man defense or zone. But you can play off and be in man coverage.”
• Murray’s last go?: Eighteen players will make their final appearances at Owen Field this week.
Kyler Murray could be the unofficial 19th.
OU’s quarterback is expected to join the Oakland Athletics following this season, after being selected No. 9 overall in last June’s MLB draft. He signed a contract worth $4.6 million.
“I don't want to sound cliche, but honestly it's just, for me, another game. It might be my last ... might be my last year but for me, it's really another football game,” Murray said. “I’ve got to go into it, or better go into it, with that mindset. I don't like my emotions or whatever get into the way of how I play.”
Riley said there is no plan to honor Murray or other underclassmen who may join the professional ranks next season.
“I know that’s what [former coach Bob Stoops] believed in and I totally agree that we reserve that for guys that truly are seniors and that way you’re not making a concession for this one guy or that one guy,” Riley said.
Rodney Anderson, who tore his ACL in September and has since left the team to rehabilitate and prepare for the NFL draft, is expected to be in Norman for Senior Day.
• Sylvie progressing: Riley said safety Chanse Sylvie could return at some point during OU’s final few games if he continues progressing from a torn Achilles’ heel.
Sylvie played in all 14 games last season before getting injured in the spring. In May, Riley said Sylvie had 50 percent chance of playing this fall.
“There’s no restrictions [on his activity] right now, but at the same time it’s kind of a tapered approach,” Riley said. “He’s getting better and better and hopeful he might potentially be able to help us in the last couple.”
• Smarts: OU placed 12 on the Academic All-Big 12 first team and six on the second team, which were released Thursday.
Redshirt junior quarterback Connor McGinnis and redshirt sophomore linebacker Bryan Mead were two of the conference’s 11 athletes with a 4.00 GPA. Only those with 3.00 GPAs or higher (cumulative or over the two previous semesters) and who have participated in 20 percent of their team’s scheduled games are considered.
OU’s first team selections are: Nick Basquine, Joe Castiglione Jr., Reece Clark, Alex Dalton, Jeremiah Hall, Creed Humphrey, Austin Kendall, McGinnis, Mead, Chase Nevel, Ben Powers and Austin Seibert.
Second team selections are: Rodney Anderson, Robert Barnes, Carson Meier, Kyler Murray, Dru Samia and Erik Swenson.
Kansas at No. 6 Oklahoma
Time: 6:30 p.m., Saturday
Place: Owen Field
Records: OU (9-1, 6-1 Big 12); KU (3-7, 1-6)
Line: OU (-35)
Radio: KRXO-FM 107.7