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OU football: Quarterback battle heats up, 3 takeaways from Lincoln Riley's media availability

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Lincoln Riley

OU coach Lincoln Riley practices with quarterback spring practice March 7.

Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley announced Friday that junior defensive back Tre Norwood will miss the 2019-20 season, which leaves a lot of questions for the Sooner defense.

Riley also discussed potential replacements for the veteran nickelback, an update on the quarterback battle and the progression of the offensive line. 

Here's what Riley had to say.

Options for replacing Norwood

Riley described the nickel and cornerbacks offseason battle as being with "a lot of reps and improved play." And with Norwood's season-ending injury, more bodies will enter the competition for a starting spot.

"We've got a lot. We're bouncing all kinds of guys around there," Riley said. "(Brendan Radley-Hiles) has done a nice job over there. We're looking at Chanse Sylvie, (Jeremiah Criddell), a couple of other bodies there too that have done a nice job. So, the way Alex (Grinch) and them teach our system, being able to move those guys around, is easier for us than it's been in the past. It's more of a learning the overall system, the overall scheme. Changing those pieces in and out has not been too difficult. They guys have handled it well."

Update on quarterback battle

Riley's preseason updates on choosing a starting quarterback are usually vague and unrevealing, with his final decision coming just days before the season-opener. But he's revealed he's happy with the work ethic thus far.

"You're talking about three pretty hard workers. That's not new to them. More importantly what they're doing now, I think it's what they did in the summer. You can see just the big jumps. You can see the time that they spent in the film room. The time, voluntarily, with our receivers throwing routes. It's just a step ahead. I feel like the focus right now with those guys, what you worry about being in a situation like that, I think they've done a good job of focusing on themselves instead of the competition.

"You can't play against the other guy. You've got to go do your best and focus on just your job, which can be tough in situations like this. Up until this point, I feel like they've done that."

Progression of offensive line

Redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Creed Humphrey's thumb injury in the spring made life for the new faces coming into the unit difficult.

Humphrey is the lone returning starting offensive lineman from 2018-19's offensive line that won the Joe Moore Award, given to the best offensive line in college football. With his absence in the spring, the unit was thrown into the fire far more quickly than what the team's comfortable with. It was difficult for awhile, but looking back at it, Riley says the situation was a blessing.

"What we've seen from our group up until this point has been very encouraging," Riley said. "I think having Creed (Humphrey) out this entire spring so valuable for us. It made life a lot tougher for those guys and honestly it made it tougher for our quarterbacks too. Now having him back has kind of helped the consistency, it's helped the production."

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