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Oklahoma is slowly but surely integrating personnel back on both sides of the football.
Senior safety Delarrin Turner-Yell, sophomore cornerback D.J. Graham, redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Jalen Redmond and freshman wide receiver Mario Williams all returned to action in OU’s last game against Texas Tech.
Fans have been hoping for more good news with several other Sooners. Oklahoma head football coach Lincoln Riley’s first injury update of the week probably isn’t exactly what everybody was waiting on pins and needles to find out.
Riley updated the statuses of redshirt sophomore cornerback Woodi Washington and junior wide receiver Theo Wease in his weekly appearance on the Big 12 teleconference call.
“I don’t know yet. They didn’t do anything full with us last week. They’re encouraging, but not to the point where we’re giving them team reps, anything like that. Hopeful that they’ll continue to push forward and the bye week was good for them. They’re making good progress, but still too early to say and probably a little bit of a reach right now,” Riley said.
While Oklahoma’s secondary play has been up-and-down ever since Washington was injured against Western Carolina, the Sooners did appear improved on the back end with Turner-Yell’s back in the fold against the Red Raiders.
With Turner-Yell returning in his starting safety spot opposite fellow senior safety Pat Fields, OU was able to shift sophomore Key Lawrence out to one of the two starting cornerback positions. Lawrence broke up two passes and the defense turned in its finest performance of the season.
Wease has been out the entirety of the season after suffering a lower-body injury before the Sooners kicked the season off against Tulane. It sounded as though Wease was nearing a return when Riley indicated last week that the Allen, Texas, native was “getting close.”
Oklahoma needs as many hands on deck as it can get. The Sooners close the season with one of the nation’s most-difficult schedules.
OU returns to action this week against a Baylor team that Riley knows is better than a season ago.
“They’re obviously much-improved offensively. Coach [Jeff] Grimes has come there and done a tremendous job. The quarterback is playing well, they’re running the ball well, making some big plays in the passing game. They’re without a doubt one of the most improved offenses in the country,” Riley said.
Riley has been impressed with Baylor’s defense as well.
“Defensively, they’re good again like they’ve been. A lot of very familiar faces that we’ve seen for the last couple of years and some really good players up there. Obviously, Pitre stands out, but there’s a lot of other very, very good football players on that defense and they’re playing at a high level. It’s a complete team. Coach [Dave] Aranda has done a tremendous job. They’ve got some guys that are really stepping up and playing well and, yeah, just a complete football team, so it’ll be a big challenge,” Riley said.
Oklahoma kicks off against Baylor at 11 a.m. on Saturday down in Waco, Texas.