Riley bringing Air Raid back to Oklahoma
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops wants new offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley to take his offense back in time.
Well, not all the way back. But the 31-year-old Riley will bring back the pass-happy Air Raid offense that helped Stoops and the Sooners dominate the Big 12 in the 2000s.
”We had so much success with it through the years, and just little by little here in the last several years, we kind of slowly drifted away from it,” Stoops said. ”I had a goal in mind to get back to running that type of system, and I felt we got the absolute best guy to do it.”
Stoops introduced Riley to Oklahoma media Saturday. Riley said he’s ready for the challenge after running East Carolina’s explosive offense for five years.
”It’s an absolute honor to be here,” Riley said. ”It’s a little surreal to be here in this environment and this program. It’s something I’ve wanted for a long time.”
Baker Mayfield should have an advantage at quarterback. He transferred from Texas Tech last year after operating the Air Raid and being named the Big 12 offensive newcomer of the year in 2013. He sat out last season, but is eligible for the upcoming year.
”I got a chance to watch Baker as a freshman at Texas Tech,” Riley said. ”We tried to heck to get him at East Carolina when he left. He’s a very good player.”
Riley said he believes Mayfield, Trevor Knight and Cody Thomas are capable quarterbacks.
”We’re going to be very blessed in that quarterback room,” Riley said. ”I’ve heard people on the outside say that’s a question mark. To me, we have three guys in that room who have started major college football games. There’s plenty to work with in that group. I’ve had a chance to meet all those guys. We have what we need in that room to be successful.”
Riley is considered a disciple of former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, but he said his offense more closely resembles Dana Holgorsen’s West Virginia offenses that emphasize the run game more. The Sooners still plan to pound it with all-conference running back Samaje Perine in the new system.
”I am very aware, as Lincoln is, the quality of running backs we have,” Stoops said. ”That will not be a problem. As bright as Lincoln is, he’ll find ways to take advantage of the great running backs that we have, and tailor our offense to the personnel that we have.”
Riley said it’s important that the players grasp the system quickly because he expects the offense to move at a quick pace.
”When you play as fast as we do, there has to be a lot of trust with everybody involved with it,” he said. ”That’s one nice advantage that I have, having coached receivers and moving on to quarterbacks. I think we’ve got a pretty good idea of what we want to do. We’re going to get in there with the staff and it will be a group effort. I’m really looking forward to working with those guys.”
Riley already has noticed the difference in coaching at Oklahoma on the recruiting trail.
”It has been crazy, but it’s been fun,” he said. ”It’s pretty fun walking into these high schools with those two letters (OU) on your chest, and knowing you have chance with any player, anywhere any time.”
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