By Arnie Leshin
Poor Tulane. Set to play host to 2nd-ranked Oklahoma in Saturday’s season football opener, and along comes terrifying hurricane storm Ida.
While Oklahoma officials have checked out the area, all they could see are floods throughout Louisiana, and in New Orleans it has brought havoc, and for the Green Waves, now it has to travel to Norman to play this awaited tilt.
Nothing they could about it, and the same was true for the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League at they had to move all their gear to Texas’ A T & T Stadium to practice. It was a mess that caused this and which has been a huge setback for the Saints as the season opener nears.
As for Oklahoma-Tulane, the change makes for three-straight home games for the Sooners. It is still scheduled for 11 a.m.at Gaylord Memorial Stadium and remains on ABC for a national audience.
But there will be limited attendance there. Only lower and middle row seats will be occupied, and the weather conditions loom at approximately 86 percent degrees.
And the Sooners do not hit the road until game four at Big 12 Conference opponent Kansas State, with the annual Texas rivalry contest following at the Cotton Bowl.
But game two is a home game as Western Carolina visits, followed by conference foe West Virginia coming to Norman. On Nov. 13 at home, it will be a crucial test versus 8th-ranked Iowa State, who the Sooners defeated for their sixth-straight conference championship, with 2000 their last loss in the title game.
Thus, Oklahoma’s 10-game regular-season schedules brings five road games and five on the road.
Head coach Lincoln Riley has named his co-captains, sophomore quarterback First Team All-America Spencer Rattler and tight end senior Jeramiah Hall for the offense, and senior linebacker Caleb Kelly and senior safety Pat Fields for the defense.
No doubt the versatile, talented Rattler leads the offense again. He also welcomes the return of 5-foot-11, 215 junior running back Kennedy Brooks, who was sidelined last season, and other key ball carriers like 5-11. 222 sophomore Marcus Majors and 5-8, 206 swift junior transfer Eric Gray from Tennessee.
Wide receivers? There are plenty of key targets for Rattler. You have to start
with 5-11, 177 junior Marvin Mims, followed by 6-4, 200 junior Theo Wease, 6-1, 202 junior Devin Staton, 5-10, 190 junior Drake Stoops, son of former head coach Bob Stoops, and 6-6, 251 junior tight end Austin Stogner.
Another Sooner All-America is the main man on defense in 6-3, 240 junior Nick Bonitto. Then there’s 6-5, 266 senior lineman Isaiah Thomas and 6-foot, 206 defensive back Caleb Murphy. Along the veteran offensive line there’s 6-5, 308 senior Marquis Hayes, and the big guy, 6-7, 358 junior Erik Swenson,
Former Oklahoma running back DeMarco Murray is the running backs coach, and the returning stellar kicker-punter junior Gabe Brkic.
And welcome to Norman, Tulane.