Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley fielded questions in a Zoom meeting on Thursday, discussing topics from being patient on bringing players back to campus amid the coronavirus pandemic, to how players and coaches stay prepared for an uncertain season.
Here's Riley had to say:
On bringing players back
Riley wants players to return in person as late as possible, and said it’s not worth the risk to rush the process while more research on the virus is being done.
“In my opinion, we need to bring them back as late as we possibly can before we play a season. Every day early that we bring them in is a day we could’ve gotten better. It’s a day we could’ve learned more about the virus. It’s a day PPE maybe gets better. It’s a day closer to a vaccine. It’s a day that our testing equipment and testing capabilities, and it’s just not worth it. So, we’ve got to be patient. We got one shot at this, and we’ve got to do it right.”
On preparation with uncertainty of season
With the coronavirus pandemic impacting sports across the world, OU and Riley have had to embrace the challenges of preparing for a season despite not meeting in person.
“It’s challenging. In some ways it’s challenging, but in some ways it’s kind of fun. It’s different, there’s some new rules, new ways of going about things.
“I think we kind of embrace that part of it and enjoy some of the challenges. With the season and schedules, I think you gotta be careful in a sense of over-preparing as far as worrying about whether it’s this day or that day, and it’s more about your priorities being in order. Having an idea on some of these potential timelines of what that could look like, but it’s so unpredictable now that it’s difficult to sit down and put it on a calendar.
“That’s one of the hardest things. We’re all used to having it very regulated, very structured, knowing exactly when things are gonna happen and building it around that, but we don’t have that right now.
“We can sit there and guess and throw darts blindfolded at the board and hope one of them lands, but that’s not really been our stance, it’s been more about being creative and focusing in on ... what we can do right now, and to get our priorities in order as this thing starts to clarify so that when we do get certain dates of getting players back on campus, what we can do, when we’re going to play, then we already have kind of our philosophies and ideas in order and we put it down on a calendar, and then we go play.”
Update on Trejan Bridges, Rhamondre Stevenson and Ronnie Perkins
Sophomore wide receiver Trejan Bridges, senior running back Rhamondre Stevenson and junior defensive lineman Ronnie Perkins were suspended prior to the Peach Bowl for undisclosed reasons. Riley said the coronavirus pandemic has slowed the process of deciding if they’d miss more time going forward.
“No update. I think that’s fair to say, that all of this has probably slowed that process down — it’s still being discussed. I don’t think it’s going to get left unattended to, but I do believe it’s fair to say that that has slowed it down. There’s other priorities that are just obviously a lot higher right now for the people that make those decisions.”
On players’ rehab, training from home
With in-person meetings out of the question, players have had to rehab and train on their own, or with different medical personnel at home.
“As far as the rehab and training, we got kind of two groups of guys, a number of our players are either in Norman or in this general area that still come into our facilities and do their rehab, do their treatment. It’s pretty limited on how they do it and our group has done a good job keeping it very regulated.
"A lot of our guys have been able to continue any rehab or therapy at home, so they’re in regular contact with our medical staff, we’re able to provide the things that they need to do for that and then even we got some of our guys that still need that physical therapist there, still need that medical personnel right there next to them at their homes, so we’ve set them up to do that at various facilities across the country where we have contacts or where there are people that we can get on the same page. So that’s honestly been pretty smooth, not that I would know before but it’s probably been one of the smoothest, easiest parts of this deal.”
On players staying ready
“From a mental standpoint I think they’re in a great place, they’ve all done a great job of finding places to throw the ball and places to continue to work, and people to continue to work with during this time and they keep me updated on it. I think we’ve had a good game plan, I think they’ve done well. Obviously I can’t wait to see them with my own eyes, but I’m excited about where they are and I’m confident about where they will be.”