Bedlam is always contentious. No matter how well or bad of a season either team is having, whenever Oklahoma and Oklahoma State face off, emotions tend to flare up.
That has not changed this year, except the Cowboys Justice Hill decided to get the fireworks started early when he posted a photo on his Instagram account labeling OU defenders as ‘littleboys’ and ‘kids.’
This obviously caught the attention of the Oklahoma defense.
“We will do our talking on the field,” OU safety Robert Barnes said. “He’s a great running back. But that’s all I got to say. We’ll do our talking on the field. It’s something we all saw because we live in such a social media heavy world. People have been tagging us all day in the picture like we haven’t already seen it. It’s definitely a constant reminder. Every hour I think I was getting tagged in the picture.”
Sooners plan to respond
” I feel like it’s a respect factor between both teams,” Barnes said. “But anytime you have someone who goes to social media and that’s their way of (communicating) what they want to portray, no matter what at the end of the day they have to see us at 2:30 p.m. on the field.”
For cornerback Tre Brown, Bedlam means a little something different than most of the players on the squad. He is one of 29 players who played their high school ball in the state of Oklahoma.
Being from Tulsa Union and growing up watching the series, he has always dreamed about playing in the game.
“I was always going for OU growing up,” Brown said. “And to finally get to play in this game against them and to be able to make an impact, so this game is really big for me personally.”
The Bedlam game that stands out to Brown growing up, however, didn’t have a happy ending for the Sooners.
“I want to say the one where we lost was pretty big (2011),” Brown said. “That was when they won the Big 12 Championship. That stood out to me, watching them storm the field. You rarely see that. They took pride in that beating us for the first time (since 2002). That really stuck with me because you don’t really see that.”
During the Sooners win over Texas Tech, cornerback Parnell Motley had a tough night. At one point the cameras showed him on the bench with quarterback Kyler Murray trying to encourage him and keep his confidence up.
Motley said the will to fight is the key to being able to go back out on the field after giving up a big play.
“Man, at the end of the day it’s football and you have to keep fighting,” Motley said. “You have to keep digging deep and don’t let the little things get the best of you. There is a whole lot of ball game to prove yourself. It just comes with it. It’s a game of inches. Just keep playing and keep playing to the best of your ability. I try not to let it put me down and keep energizing. Just keep talking to myself and keep things going.”
Coach Ruffin McNeil likes the way Motley has responded to the adversity he has faced on the field and how he has responded to being coached.
“Parnell is one of those guys I know exactly where he comes from. I know exactly where his high school is,” McNeill said. “I know exactly where his neighborhood is because I recruited the area for years. SO he is a kid that will not quit, he’ll keep fighting. Believing in a young man as adults I believe is very important. How do you handle kids? I handle them this way. How do I want somebody handling my child? Do I push them? Yes. Do I have tough love? Yes. But also coaching and teaching is a part of it too. Everything is about life learning. I believe in life you’re going to have tough times. What happens to you is 10 percent of it and how you handle it is 90 percent. Where is a better place to learn it than team sports?”
Emergence of Barnes
Since the Sooners bye week, the player who has seen their game improve the most has been Barnes. It culminated last week with his interception and 100-yard return during the Red Raiders 2-point conversion.
“I don’t think there is anything particular that changed. Just my mentality kind of changed. I kind of just knew things I wanted to do, what I needed to focus on. I started focusing in on those things. Just being a leader on the field, not worrying about injuries, just going out there playing. God had been blessing me with getting through Fall Camp and just staying connected with my faith. And through all that just continue to work on tackling and covering, just the common things of being a DB (defensive back).”
More on ‘The play’
“It definitely builds confidence when you make a play like that,” Barnes said. “Just to be comfortable out there on the field. To be able to make that read, to jump that play. It felt good. The best part was just seeing my brother T (Tre Brown), be with me right there. For everything we had gone through in the past few weeks with each other. Just to see him ride for me all the way down the field like that was special.”
Defending the bubble screen
One of Oklahoma State’s foundation plays is the bubble screen to its wide receivers. The Sooners know they will see a heavy dose of it Saturday. That means the Oklahoma cornerbacks are going to have to be physical and sure tacklers.
“That is a part of the game today,” cornerback Tre Norwood said. “RPOs, quick game, and bubble screens. That comes with getting off blocks, making tackles. You have to have to have that mindset that the dude in front of you can’t block you. You have to get off the block and make the plays.”
Even though Motley has given up some big plays to opposing offenses, he has also made his share for Oklahoma. He said that is something he has been trying to do more of this season.
“Oh yeah, I’m definitely looking for those. I’m just trying to change the ball game, make some plays. I am just trying to be the athlete that I am. We need to make more plays, especially in the back end.”