Oklahoma starting quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray did not attend his scheduled press conference ahead of the Orange Bowl on Wednesday with what the team is describing as an illness.
However, there seems to be little concern about Murray status for No. 4 Oklahoma’s College Football Playoff Semifinal against No. 1 Alabama in the Orange Bowl on Saturday night.
Murray has been a full participant in Oklahoma’s practices since arriving in South Florida on Sunday night and was at practice on Wednesday at FAU’s practice fields.
“I just heard that this morning,” offensive coordinator Cale Gundy said Wednesday about Murray’s illness, “so I’m sure the doctors probably got with him and probably thought it was best to get a little rest before practice.”
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Murray has completed 71 percent of his passes this season for 4,053 yards and 40 touchdowns this year and edged out Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa for the Heisman Trophy.
Oklahoma leading receiver Marquise Brown is questionable for the Orange Bowl while he continues to deal with a lower-leg injury he sustained during the Big 12 Championship game.
Losing Brown would be a big blow to the Sooners’ offense. The junior and former Chaminade-Madonna standout leads Oklahoma and is eighth nationally with 1,318 receiving yards to go along with 10 touchdowns on 75 catches.
Gundy said Wednesday that he is optimistic Brown will play but deferred all updates to head coach Lincoln Riley. Brown practiced on Wednesday.
“I hope so,” Gundy said. “He’s been doing well.”
Bama confident in Cotton
With left guard Deonte Brown, who has started five of Alabama’s last six games, suspended and not with the team after violating team rules, the Crimson Tide will play Lester Cotton at left guard Saturday.
Cotton, a senior with 26 career starts under his belt, started Alabama’s first seven games this year before being supplanted by Brown against Tennessee on Oct. 20. He also started against the Citadel on Nov. 17, a game in which Alabama rested Brown while he dealt with a turf toe injury.
“Obviously Deonte played really well for us coming into this season, but we have a lot of confidence in Lester [and] all the games that he started around here,” said Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley. “We’re fortunate to be able to have that type of depth to where when you lose a guy like Deonte, you have a three-year starter like Lester Cotton there ready to go. Tremendous confidence that Lester will come in and do his job.”
Just for kicks
It’s not everyday that a team brings its kicker to the opening press conference of a premier bowl game.
But there sat Oklahoma’s Austin Seibert, a four-year playmaker for the Sooners who has handled field goals, punts and kickoffs since he stepped on campus as a freshman.
And he’s pretty good at it, too. His career numbers heading into Saturday’s Orange Bowl: 61-for-77 on field goals (79.2 percent) with a career long of 51, 41.7 yard average on 177 career punts with 65 of those punts pinning opponents inside their 20, and 272 of his 416 kickoffs going for touchbacks.
As a senior, Seibert is 15 for 17 on field goals, making his last 12; averaging 41.1 yards per punt and has had 87 of his 104 kickoffs go for touchbacks.
“My goal is to help us win,” Seibert said, “and if me doing all three is the best thing for the team, then that’s what I’m going to do, and I’ve done that my whole life. So I don’t think it’s really been — it hasn’t really hit me that I do all three. Maybe in the future, but I’ve just held myself to that standard, so I’m used to it.”