Monday 28th May, 2018
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No. 2 Sooners try to avoid letdown

Sports Xchange - Tuesday 12th September, 2017

NORMAN, Okla. -- In the locker room after then-No. 5 Oklahoma finished off a 31-16 win over then-No. 2 Ohio State, Sooners coach Lincoln Riley had a very clear message for his players.

"Don't let this be the highlight of your season," Riley told them amid the celebration.

So much of Oklahoma's focus in the offseason was on starting quick -- starting games with success and starting the season quickly after last season's two non-conference losses quickly removed the Sooners from the College Football Playoff hunt.

Oklahoma has done both so far, first whipping up UTEP in the season opener and then plowing through the Buckeyes. Oklahoma has moved up to No. 2 in the rankings.

But where do the Sooners go from here? How do they handle things moving forward, beginning with Saturday's nonconference finale against Tulane?

"We've won two games, you know?" Riley said.

"We've had success in two games. That's great. We appreciate it. We're happy about it. But there's so much more to go. We've got some good leaders. We as a staff will do a good job of keeping it in perspective, and know we've got a long way to go to get where we want to go."

On the plane ride back from Columbus, Ohio, quarterback Baker Mayfield and some of the rest of the team leaders got together to discuss how to maintain focus moving forward.

"We need to treat every game like it's the last one we have, like we need it," Mayfield said. "That's a good mentality to have, just block everything else and prepare like nobody else believes in us. Just go to work."

Mayfield and several other veteran players said after the win over Ohio State that they credited the freshmen who have played a role early in the season with helping them maintain focus.

Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, tight end Grant Calcaterra, linebacker Kenneth Murray and safety Robert Barnes are among the signees from the 2017 class who have already made a big impact on the field.

"Even from the days they were coming on their official visits and they'd make sure to come together instead of spread it out -- they all came together at once," Mayfield said. "This team has a great group, team chemistry. But that group of freshmen is something special.

"They came here to do one thing. They put all their work in it. The older guys feed off that as well. It's not the younger guys feeding off us, we feel that energy and that excitement they bring to it."

--TE Mark Andrews is expected to play against Tulane after suffering a left knee injury against Ohio State that kept him out for the final three quarters.

--S Will Johnson is likely to miss the game after suffering an apparent head injury against the Buckeyes. Freshman Robert Barnes is likely to play in his place.

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