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OU football notebook: Sooner players say CFB rankings 'outside noise'
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OU FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK

OU football notebook: Sooner players say CFB rankings 'outside noise'

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Oklahoma vs TCU (copy)

Oklahoma cornerback D.J. Graham tackles TCU running back Kendre Miller during their game Oct. 16 in Norman.

Nov. 2, 2021 video. Sooners head coach talks about team's mindset going into final month of regular season. Video courtesy/Sooner Sports TV

OU players: CFB rankings ‘outside noise’

If coming in at No. 8 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings came as a shock to Oklahoma’s players, they hid it well. They were no expressions of slight or backlash against the playoff committee from the four players who spoke with reporters on Wednesday.

“Being on social media, you’re gonna come across it sooner or later,” said cornerback D.J. Graham of where the Sooners were placed. “We’re motivated anyways. It’s game by game. It’s November. They can’t deny us if we’re undefeated, and that’s our whole thing. The rest is outside noise. We’re just focused on us.”

The Sooners (9-0, 6-0 Big 12) are off this weekend. Next up for them is No. 12 Baylor, which faces TCU on Saturday. The Sooners should take comfort in that they were not ranked in the top four of the initial College Football Playoff rankings in 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019 either. They rose because they were able to win all their games over the final month of the regular season and the Big 12 title game.

“We’re just big on finishing,” safety Delarrin Turner-Yell said. “We have an understanding that to get in those games that everyone loves to play in at the end of the season, that you have to win in November, because that is when those decisions are made. So we make it a big deal to play our best ball in November. I haven’t had to experience a loss in November here, and I just hope to keep the streak going without losing.”

Defense ticking up?

The roller-coaster ride OU’s defense has been on seems to be on the upswing following the 52-21 victory over Texas Tech. The point total was the lowest since holding West Virginia to 13 points on Sept. 25. OU also matched its season-high by forcing three turnovers against the Red Raiders.

The positive vibes coming from that performance came at a good time.

“We needed that type of energy going into the bye,” Turner-Yell said. “Every day that we take the practice field, we can just continue to elevate our game and continue to make that energy much higher, so whenever we take the field again it’s not something that we have to start over. We’ve been doing it throughout the bye week. Next week we’re going to continue to do it when we prepare for Baylor and things like that. Whenever the game comes, it’ll be much easier for us to get the job done.”

Redmond expects more

Defensive tackle Jalen Redmond returned to the lineup against Texas Tech. Although he didn’t start, Redmond played for the first time since suffering a knee injury in the Nebraska game.

He logged two tackles, but Redmond expected more.

“I didn’t feel like I played the game I could have played. I was a little hesitant, but that’s all on me. I feel like I could have played a lot better and contributed a lot more than I did,” he said. “Everybody has their own opinion, but that’s mine on myself.”

Redmond is used to dealing with injuries. This is his fourth season in the program, but Texas Tech was just his 20th career game due to an assortment injuries and ailments.

“For the majority of my career, I’ve been out, injured or something has happened to me,” Redmond said. “It’s been really hard. I don’t want to do anything but be out there with those guys and help them. It hurt me to see them struggle, but they came back. Stuff happens, anybody can go down at any time. That’s the sport we play.”

Growing process for offensive line

Dating back to the second half of the Kansas game, OU has scored touchdowns on 12 of its past 15 possessions. The Sooners punted on the first series against Texas Tech. They also settled for one field goal and ran out the clock at the end of the win over the Red Raiders. The unit is hitting its stride late in the season.

“I think we have matured over these last couple of games. That’s one thing that I would say,” guard Chris Murray said. “The O-line’s maturity, as far as just in moments of games where we know we have to finish this or do this, that people step up. I would say a big thing this year is that we have evolved with maturity, which is trust between each other. That’s very key. Both of those have grown over the last nine games.”

— John Shinn, For the Tulsa World

Nov. 2, 2021 video. Sooners head coach talks about early CFP polls before it was unveiled that OU was ranked No. 8. Video courtesy/Sooner Sports TV

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