Lincoln Riley has a pretty good idea of the reaction Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield will encounter Saturday night in Lubbock.
The Sooners’ offensive coordinator was on Texas Tech’s staff in 2008 when No. 1 Texas visited for a prime-time showdown.
“I can kind of vividly remember being out there pre-game and we were throwing pat-and-go (drills) and the stadium was already completely packed an hour before the game,” Riley said this week. “Right there in the south end zone, a Longhorn student walks down with his burnt orange shirt.
“They had blacked out the stadium so he really stood out. He went in the middle of the student section and all of the sudden I look up and his shirt is off and they are carrying him out of there.”
Mayfield probably doesn’t have to worry about losing his jersey, but he can expect plenty of verbalization from the fans in Jones AT&T Stadium.
“They’ll be ready for me when I get down there, that’s for sure,” Mayfield said. “I’m excited for it. It’s always fun to play in Lubbock. This time, I’m on the other side of it. It’ll be interesting. I’ll have my guys ready.
“I’ve gotten over everything. It’s all in the past, which is what I said last year. It’s about settling in and being ready to play. We’ll see how our guys handle the violent environment we’re gonna be in.”
In 2013, Mayfield walked on and was the Red Raiders’ starting quarterback in coach Kliff Kingsbury’s debut. Texas Tech started the season 7-0, but Mayfield was injured and didn’t play at Oklahoma, the team’s first loss. He then decided to transfer to Oklahoma.
That process became contentious. Texas Tech and the Big 12 wanted to adhere to a conference rule – since changed – that would have required Mayfield to lose two seasons of eligibility. Everyone has kissed and made up – apparently.
Two years ago, while Mayfield was still a walk-on with the Sooners and sitting out as a transfer, he drove to Lubbock for OU’s 42-30 victory. His presence on the sideline brought a lot of, uh, comments. Mayfield referred to it as a “nice little warm welcoming.”
Oklahoma has won three consecutive Big 12 games and is in hot pursuit of its 10th conference title. In Big 12 play, Mayfield has been spectacular. He has completed 76 percent of his passes (70-of-91) for 1,010 yards (337 per game) and nine touchdowns (plus three more rushing).
The junior quarterback, who is renowned for seeking motivation and playing with a chip on his shoulder, figures to be just a bit more geeked up.
“Coach (Lincoln) Riley, I’m sure, will have a strong influence on him and how to handle it,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. “I believe he will. He’s not a freshman. Just stick to what’s been positive for him and good for him. The way he’s executing, why would you change any of that? So hopefully he can handle that.”
Texas Tech has lost its last two Big 12 games, and Saturday’s 48-17 home loss to West Virginia was deemed an embarrassment by Kliff Kingsbury, who apologized to everyone who wears red and black. The Sooners figure to face a team that will be angry and anxious to play better.
“There is a lot to fix. There’s no doubt,” Kingsbury said.
“Just at the midway point, reassess what we’re doing, how we’re doing it as far as practice goes. Personnel-wise, who we’re playing. I think we took a look at really everything on Sunday, and trying to figure out what we need to tighten up and who needs to be playing and what changes we need to make in this last part of the season to be the most effective.”
One positive for the Red Raiders’ defense is that Oklahoma running back Samajie Perine. In two games against Texas Tech, the junior running back has rushed for 414 yards. The Sooners are down to two scholarship running backs – Joe Mixon and Abdul Adams. Riley will have to adjust his game plan and play-calling.
“I used to enjoy it,” said Riley, who will be an opposing coach in Lubbock for the first time. “I probably won’t enjoy it this time around as much. They are a passionate group. It’s a great fan base. It’ll be a fun place to play.”