Ryan Welton

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Tag Archives: oklahoma

One Of OKC’s Neatest Dudes Was Our Wedding Caterer

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Life is getting back to normal after an eventful April, a month highlighted by a wonderful wedding and honeymoon to Canada — the best experiences of my life.

But there’s lots to talk about regarding the wedding itself. As I noted in my last post, it was my first one, ha! The wedding-planning experience, while my first go at it, wasn’t terribly unfamiliar insomuch as it involves a lot of project management. Our first decision was to select a venue, and we chose an all-in-one wedding provider close to our house, ‘Rose Briar’ in northwest Oklahoma City.

The facility is beautiful with both indoor and outdoor ceremony accommodations, and we liked the idea of an all-in-one wedding provider so that we didn’t have to search and search for vendors. My overall review of ‘Rose Briar’ as a wedding provider is pretty simple: if you have a no-frills wedding, they’re solid albeit pretty inflexible and humorless. I can’t imagine a more elaborate wedding with customization being a good fit for them. For us, ‘Rose Briar’ was a-ok, and they executed adequately. It turned out though that we liked their vendors better than we did ‘Rose Briar’ itself, and in this post, I’m going to tell you about one of those vendors: Ned Shadid Sr.

Ned is apparently an Oklahoma City fixture, and we completely understand why. His business is called Ned’s Catering, and he’s been in food service for a long while, having been an on-the-road caterer for a bevy of rock-and-roll bands and country acts. He told us some amazing stories about how awesome some stars are (Jon Bon Jovi) and how not-awesome others are (their band name rhymes with “The Beagles.”)

Ned has this signed photo from the band Chicago in his Oklahoma City office.

Apparently, as part of the whole wedding preparation effort, you get invited to a free lunch where you sample the food for the event.

“Do not threaten me with a good time,” as my friend Patrick is fond of saying.

My understanding is that Rose Briar’s regular caterer flaked out on them, and so Ned was available for us. I’m glad he was! While the food was fantastic, getting to know Ned as part of the pre-wedding food tasting was the real treat. He was also there for the wedding, and he even helped fix my Windsor knot.

“Before I was a caterer, I was in the clothing business,” he told me.

Ned even packed Kristi and I a to-go box in case were were still hungry after the event.

During our initial meeting with him, he told us about his latest restaurant venture, “Ned’s Starlite Lounge.” It’s also in northwest Oklahoma City along May Avenue, and it’s got this retro 1960s vibe about it.

“Our Old Fashioneds are killer,” the waitress told me upon first visit.

The decor was straight out of ‘Mad Men,’ even with the playoff hockey and basketball on the big screens. Kristi opted for Ned’s chop house steak special, which I think was a Filet Mignon, and I got the chicken fried steak with poblano reduction. I joked with Kristi that I thought our wedding enchiladas also had Ned’s poblano reduction, and maybe that was just his thing – poblano reduction.

Nevertheless, it was delicious on a chicken fry.

And the Old Fashioned was indeed killer, and oh by the way, priced a lot cheaper than most places.

Not that my Rolodex is teeming with caterers, but I couldn’t recommend Ned more highly. The food was fantastic, both for the wedding and at Ned’s Starlite Lounge — and he’s even a neater guy.

Korean, Mexican flavors come together at northwest OKC’s ‘Chigama’

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So, I ain’t gonna lie. I’m beat. Kristi, too. I’m lying in bed as this blog is being crafted.

We’re both super busy at work. We’re both still managing multiple trips per week to the chiropractor after a car wreck in November.

We’re both getting married in April. To each other. There’s a substantial to-do list that goes with that. We’ve got two houses we’re trying to sell, including one that belonged to Mom, and a car settlement in the works and all sorts of side projects and various kiddo-centric to-dos.

A nice dinner out isn’t a luxury. It’s therapy.

We had wanted to try Chigama, a Korean-Mexican restaurant, in northwest Oklahoma City, for quite awhile. A colleague’s recommendation this week, however, sealed the deal — and we visited tonight.

It’s at Memorial and May, just off the Kilpatrick Turnpike. It’s in a strip with other restaurants, including Wagyu and Metro Diner. The first thing you notice upon entering is the interior design.

It’s colorful, modern and brilliant. The blue and orange-themed insides matched the color scheme of the hometown Oklahoma City Thunder on the television.

Because Kristi and I were already pooped from a January that, this year, lasted 74 days, we took forever to order anything. Our waitress, Sarah, stopped by 6-7 times before we could get it together.

We weren’t lallygagging. Kristi was plotting different foods for us to try (our thing is to split food so we can try more dishes), and I was researching on my phone every cocktail in their alcoholic arsenal.

I settled on the poma jalapeño margarita. It was sweet, and it had a serious kick. I think the glass might have been lined with salt and chili powder.

The lady had sake. Cold, sweet pineapple sake. She likes it; I hate the stuff.

My cocktail was a 10 out of a 10. Terrific beginning to the evening out.

Next course was bao. I thought Kristi was saying, “bowel,” and the funny part was that I didn’t flinch. I was like, “Well, I guess this is happening.”

But it was a steamed bun with goodies inside, namely soft-shell crab and pork belly.

Then came the scallion pancakes.

The sour cream sauce paired perfectly with the side dish. Loved this.

Kristi tells me this is “elote.” I responded, “you mean corn?” She squeezed the lime over it, giving the sweet corn a tangy flavor.

The theme of the night at Chigama was “flavor combos.” At no place we’ve been in Oklahoma City has had as interesting a mix of flavors as Chigama.

Our main course was a couple tacos — a beef steak taco on the left and a sweet-and-spicy shrimp taco on the right. My favorite taco was the shrimp. Kristi’s, too.

We were supposed to dip the tacos in this chili sauce but we forgot.

Oh, well. Not that the tacos needed it.

Last but not least, we ordered some churros. By then, the Thunder were up by 25 over the Heat, and the last big table had paid up for the night.

We had the place to ourselves.

I don’t rave about a restaurant unless I mean it, but Chigama was both a culinary delight and an experiential one. And it cements my love of Korean food or at least Korean-influenced foods, especially given that the late, great Chae had been my favorite Oklahoma City restaurant.

Anyway, give this place a try. High marks. Totally affordable, too. $$ on prices and I’d say 9 out of 10 on food + experience.

Hallelujah & Hollywood: Marquise Brown practiced today for Sooners

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We’re three days from college football’s playoffs, a pair of semifinal matches stuffed in between relatively meaningless bowl games.

Oklahoma fans learned today that Heisman winner Kyler Murray wasn’t feeling well and missed media time. They also learned that Marquise Brown practiced.

“Thank the good Lord,” it was proclaimed even by the most agnostic football fans in the Sooner state.

Hollywood! And Hallelujah.

If only it were that easy. If dressing out for practice meant anything for sure. If Marquise’s injury was to his shoulder and not a lower extremity.

I’m not overly confident that Marquise Brown is going to be close to full-strength come Saturday night versus Alabama in the Orange Bowl.

But he doesn’t have to be to help Oklahoma. Mostly, he needs to be on the field and drawing Alabama’s best coverage. He’ll be the deadliest decoy in the sport, for one night.

Maybe Hollywood plays dead for a quarter and then busts out in the second. Maybe the third. Or the fourth.

Or maybe Marquise is good for a few possession catches and to free up other Oklahoma receivers. That’s a damned big deal if so.

Hollywood could finish the Alabama game with only a catch or two and have a major impact on the Sooners’ success.

But from one Sooner fan to another, can I give you some news that has me even more fired up?

Trey Sermon is healthy.

Remember when we lost Rodney Anderson for the season, and we thought all was lost relative to Oklahoma’s ground game?

All I have to say is: Trey Sermon + Kennedy Brooks. Oklahoma is going to have a full-strength running game.

Sermon brings the thunder, and Brooks flashes lightning. They’re both effective tools for the Oklahoma passing game.

And if Hollywood is out there drawing double-teams, whether he’s full-strength or as gimpy as Kerri Strug, he’ll be making opportunities for CeeDee Lamb and Grant Calcaterra and Myles Tease, Lee Morris, Sermon and Brooks.

So, will Hollywood Brown be ready to go at full-strength?

Don’t know.

But it sure looks as if, with three sleeps before kickoff, that Hollywood Brown intends to play.

And that is huge for the Sooners.

The future of ryanwelton.com, aka: Using data to decide what to blog about

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Anybody who knows me knows that I love the digital game. I love the process of creating content, promoting it and growing something from nothing to a lot. In this post, I want to talk about my current efforts and the notion of going wide versus deep.

First, I’ve been posting pretty much everything I do to ryanwelton.com. I have been posting sports columns and recipes, travel photos and personal essays. This is what’s known as going wide, touching many bases in hopes of growing as broad of an audience as possible. This strategy looks for quantity of audience and not necessarily quality. Where that can be valuable is when your business is judged by quantity of people, such as in TV. Sure, there are some demographics that are preferred to others, but at the end of the day, Station A wants to have more people watching than Station B.

The problem with this strategy is that you get a whole bunch of people one day and a whole bunch of people the next, and it’s possible that the first audience and the second are completely different. The people who sampled your product on the first day didn’t come back the second. In my case, the people who read by Oklahoma Sooners blog posts probably didn’t come back when I posted my potato soup recipe — and vice-versa.

At the point where you want to turn visitors into repeat content customers, you have to go deep.

In the news world, that might mean delving deep into a topic such as education, health or politics. Many local TV news stations have a “consumer beat” where the reporter works to right wrongs in the community. That type of deeper coverage can prompt a consumer to come back night after night. In the blog world, this strategy is all about the niche — and niche content and niche marketing are super powerful these days because people have proven to be willing to come back time after time when a topic interests them.

I’m also a YouTuber (http://www.youtube.com/ryanweltonmusic), and creators who teach YouTube channel growth are pretty adamant about only going deep. I heard one self-proclaimed expert say that there are no “variety shows” on YouTube.

Go deep or go home.

Going deep means longer posts. Higher-quality information. Varied types of content, e.g., written word, video and audio.

However, you have to be satisfied with having a smaller audience, reminding yourself that what you really have is the “right audience.” If you’re doing anything like Ad Sense or Amazon Associates affiliate marketing, a niche audience has a higher likelihood of moving the needle than a broad audience.

Why? Because you’re dependent upon each and every blog to convert.

Going deep allows you to suck the user into a rabbit hole of sorts, which translates into an appreciation from the reader and a higher chance of conversion.

Believe it or not, many content trends in 2018 are headed back to 2008. Take email for example: Gathering emails from your readers is probably the most important thing you can do from a marketing perspective because, if they opt-in to receiving a newsletter, you can use that to induce all sorts of sales opportunities.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never solicited email addresses because that’s not ever been my style. It makes me uneasy to do that. However, I should if I ever want to turn a blog into something that makes money.

And let’s talk about that for a second because the reality is you have to be selling something that is super-high-dollar or creating your own product to expect to make much of anything. I’m a musician; perhaps I could move some Korg keyboards through my site.

Not likely.

If I had just kept my original ryanwelton.com around from the early 2000s, who knows where I could have taken it. I used to write about American Idol and Big Brother and other reality shows, and I was getting terrific traffic.

ryanwelton-2008

Since restarting my site, the growth has been slow although it really jumped right about the time Mom died and I penned the tribute to her. That gave me some momentum, and you need that. Here’s a look at my stats for this year so far per month:

blog-stats-2018

However, what that chart doesn’t show you is that I only get decent engagement when I write about certain topics such as food, travel and health. My posts about the Oklahoma Sooners or Cleveland Browns only get consumed; nobody follows, comments or reacts.

This is key.

People are much more willing to follow a blog if it’s about a single topic of interest to them. Although food, travel and health are different topics, they do fall generally under lifestyle — and when the information comes from a certain demo, such as a man approaching 50, it has the potential to attract a certain audience.

So, if you’re interested in starting a blog, how do you choose a topic? You do keyword research, and my current favorite tool for keyword research is Keywords Everywhere. What you want to do is import some keywords for topics you’re interested in and see what the monthly average search volume is like.

keywords-everywhere-2

Ideally, you want to blog about a topic that somebody searches for, and you don’t want it to be so competitive that you’d never be able to break through the noise. There is a sweet spot to be had, and a tool like Keywords Everywhere can help you feel it out. It’s a process that I’ve gone through the past couple of nights in fact in hopes of moving away from a ryanwelton.com blog that is about everything.

Because when your blog is truly about everything, then it’s about nothing.

Focus is needed.

I narrowed my search somewhat based on search volume and competition stats. Keywords Everywhere measures a keyword phrase on a scale of 0 to 1 based on how aggressively advertisers pursue it. You’ll notice here that for whatever reason, the term “Cleveland Browns” gets ridiculous search volume but is also wide-open competitively. Based on what I see here, a person could break through on that term.

keywords-everywhere-3

However, more goes into it than this. Do I really want to start and cultivate an entire blog about the Cleveland Browns? I mean, really, the reason all of us Okies are such fans of the team now is because of the great Baker Reagan Mayfield.

I’m truly all-in at this point, but it’s possible I get bored at some point down the road. Alas, the thing that makes us love Mayfield so much is that he was a great Sooner — and that’s why I’m reviving thenormanfiles.com, which was a hyper-local blog of sorts that I tried to get going back in 2013, soon after I left KOCO.

Take a look at these keyword stats below:

keywords-everywhere-4

That indicates to me that there is enough global search volume between the Oklahoma Sooners, the Oklahoma City Thunder, Oklahoma basketball, football and even the Oklahoma City Dodgers to make thenormanfiles.com a worthwhile-go as a sports-centric blog on topics that would be of interest to people in Oklahoma.

But what else?

I already have beamediacompany,com, where I write about digital communications, social media and trends in the industry as it relates to 21st Century public relations and corporate communications. A post like this one here would ideally go there.

I’ve also revived my 80s music blog, but with a new URL: http://www.1980s.blog. Before I solidified the dot-blog top-level domain, I did some Google SEO research to see how Mother Google felt about non-dot-coms as TLDs — and what I found is that they don’t really care.

It’s the content, stupid.

And my thought was that in a mobile world, it’s about URL length, so 1980s.blog as a domain name really appealed to me.

I also have outandaboutokc.com as a blog that Kristi and I have talked about working on together with a focus on what businesses have available for families, for example: play areas and kids menus, vegetarian options and parking situations.

Just tonight I created two more: bunnygap.com and crazyforcaps.com. The former is a reference to the phrase, “The Rabbit Hole,” except that on this blog, I’d take the reader simply down a li’l bunny gap, not the full-on rabbit hole. I’ll write about YouTube and audio, movies and TV. It’s basically a pop culture site.

The latter is a site that would capture my obsession with baseball caps, and not just caps from baseball teams but all kinds of caps and, really, hats. Let’s go back to the keyword analysis here:

keywords-everywhere-3

Notice that both the term “baseball cap” and cap(s) are scored as ‘1’s. There is decent search volume for both, but advertisers attack it hard, which means that a person would have to really stand out — and my thought is that I could do that by taking a “Uni-Watch” approach to headwear, especially as it pertains to sports teams.

Boy, that sounds like a lot of work, right?

Well, one does have to create opportunities for efficiencies, and I study the subject pretty religiously. Plus, I’ve always been one to let the data drive the bus, meaning that if one of the sites really took off, there I’d focus.

All of this serves as a scratch to the itch that is for me ‘mass communication’ through digital. Well before social media came along, I preferred the blog. As I develop each of these new ones and re-tinker with the old ones, I’m going to have to think long and hard about social amplification.

  • Do I need separate Facebook and Twitter sites for each of these?
  • Or do I use the blogs to build more of an audience for my own Facebook and Twitter pages?
  • This doesn’t even consider Linked In, where a post like this must definitely live!

The tactical strategy end of this should never trump the formula that will never steer you wrong, and that’s to serve an audience. If you’re going to write about 80s music, make sure it goes deep and appeals to the geekiest of the geeky 80s children. And if you’re going to write about digital strategy or ball caps, delve into as much detail as you can, either taking the consumer down the proverbial rabbit hole or giving them something they can take away and use for real.

You might get a reaction, a comment or a new follower.

And that’s when going deep can help you build that big audience to which you can communicate wide. If any of these blogs in particular will be of interest to you, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Appreciate you reading!

OU 28, Army 21: Mike Stoops’ defense doesn’t look any better on radio either

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When I was 10 or 11 years old, I used to hide away in my room and listen to the radio.

My first memories were listening to WLS radio at night when the AM gods and frequencies allowed, and I listened to a lot of sports. I remembered listening to the 1980 Gator Bowl between Pittsburgh and South Carolina, and I listened to the 1980 Holiday Bowl between SMU and BYU, a veritable shootout by the standards of the day, a 46-45, Cougars win.

And I listened to the Orange Bowl that year, a 24-7 win for the Oklahoma Sooners over the Florida State Seminoles.

I wasn’t being deceptive about it, but Dad didn’t watch sports, and back in those days, parents controlled the remotes. This was the year before Mom and Dad bought me a TV, I believe, so I was huddled in bed with my transistor listening to John Brooks call the game for Oklahoma, his “Jiminy Christmas” the signal that good had come to the Sooners.

Some 38 years later, I’m at it again, listening to Oklahoma football on the radio, a 28-21 overtime nail-biter over the Army Black Knights. The very capable Toby Rowland was on the call, and it was a delight to hear in lieu of a $50 pay-per-view bill. The reason we have a PPV game every year is because of the Big 12 and its contracts with the networks.

They don’t have to do this, but they do — and I think it’s fan extortion. I didn’t buy it, even though I love both the Oklahoma Sooners and the Army Black Knights. CBS Sports Network shows all of Army’s games, so I started following Jeff Monken’s bunch a couple of years ago and kind of fell in love with their style and effort.

They sure as heck didn’t disappoint tonight.

Neither did the radio broadcast. Toby Rowland, Teddy Lehman, Gabe Ikard, Coach Merv Johnson and the highly under-recognized Chris Plank are fantastic. One of my News 9 colleagues, Michael Dean, makes an appearance on these broadcasts, too. Radio is still a glorious medium because it is theatre of the imagination.

But there was no imagining the nightmare that was the Army option game against an unprepared, undisciplined Oklahoma defense. Mike Stoops’ bunch can’t stop a competent passing team, and they can’t stop a competent running team. They need an opponent to stop themselves, truly.

At some point, repeating the same effort and mistakes over and over and over, game after game after game is insanity.

Or Coach Stoops has compromising photos of former President David Boren.

Something.

Coaches often respond to criticism by saying things like, “Geez, I didn’t know I had to teach college ball players how to tackle.”

And I say, “That’s exactly what you should be doing.”

If it were me, I’d obsess over why they weren’t tackling and then work with each player ad nauseam until they figured it out. There would be laps or stair runs for missed tackles, too. Whatever you can get away with in 2018.

But shame on us for saying anything about the obvious, right?

It’d be 1,000 times more acceptable if Mike Stoops showed any kind of emotion that evoked a little empathy, but he doesn’t. Thank God his crew finally got inspired in overtime, or any chance at a playoff in 2018 would be over.

Probably.

College football is a funny thing. A loss to Army might not have done the trick. Even though the Black Knights were a 30.5-point underdog, Army is actually good. They won a bowl game last year in exciting fashion, a 42-35 win over San Diego State. in which the Black Knights won with a 2-point conversion before a game-clinching interception return for a touchdown provided the final margin.

Army is disciplined, focused and prepared. Every game.

Oklahoma’s offense has long been the same way while the defense has been a step behind for years. The Sooners defense is like that co-worker who puts in a half-effort but turns it on, maybe, when the boss yells or when it’s crunch time, doing just enough to not get fired when you really just wish they would show up to work drunk out of their minds so the powers who be would have no choice but to make a move.

Nobody aspires to be a micro-manager, but this is an Oklahoma defense that begs for micro-management. If Mike doesn’t want to do it, let Ruffin McNeill or Calvin Thibodeaux handle it.

I’ll say this though: I don’t hate Mike Stoops; I just don’t think his defense is ever prepared well. Like ever ever.

It is what it is.

He’s a ******** of a coach, but he’s our *********.

The craziest part of this is that I didn’t have to see one second of the game to figure this out. Great radio will do that.

Tonight was a real treat.

We’ll live to curse Mike Stoops another day.

Oklahoma escapes Iowa State with 37-27 win, but old (bad) habits reemerge

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Oklahoma is not going to win every game by 28 or 49, and so Sooner fans are grateful for Saturday’s 37-27 win over Iowa State in Ames, especially after last year’s 38-31 loss to the Cyclones in Norman. Saturday’s win was hard-fought and presented plenty of opportunities for confidence going forward as well as room for improvement.

Lots of room for improvement.

This football game had every opportunity to be a good old-fashioned blowout. The Sooners went on a 10-play, 74-yard drive to end the first half up 24-10 with possession ahead of them to start the second half. After picking up a first down, Oklahoma proceeded to lose yardage on two consecutive plays, setting up a third-and-17 from the Sooners’ 35.

Kyler Murray just missed Hollywood Brown.

And within :47 seconds, Iowa State was back within 7.

Oklahoma missed a chance to go for the kill.

The two things that happened today or that were exposed for Oklahoma should be correctable. First, the Sooners weren’t able to connect deep in the second half. Brown gained 189 yards on seven carries in the first half, 139 of those in the first quarter, an Oklahoma record.

The second half? Two catches, two yards. It looked on TV like Murray had trouble seeing downfield, possibly the result of Cyclone pressure. One exception was this beautiful 50/50 ball to fullback Carson Meier in the third quarter:

That was Murray’s longest completion of the second half by a lot, and note that Meier was in front of his defender, making him easier to see for Murray. When you have a home run threat the caliber of Hollywood Brown, he should be given a deep look at least once a quarter. It opens up the run, the short pass; it opens up everything.

When a receiver the caliber of CeeDee Lamb only catches three balls for 36 yards, you’re not using your best assets.

For the day, Murray finished with 348 yards on 21-of-29 passing, three TDs and a quarterback rating of 90.5. That’s his lowest rating of the season, but he’s consistently been over 90. On the other hand, Murray ran 15 times for 77 yards, his highest yardage of the season and his highest number of carries, by quite a bit. Against UCLA, Murray carried ten times for 69 yards, and he carried four times for 23 yards against Florida Atlantic.

When considering Murray’s feet, one can wonder whether they’re an attack weapon or a weapon of last resort. In other words, the more Murray is running, the more pressure he’s facing and the harder it is for him to find receivers. Credit to Iowa State for adjusting to Oklahoma’s deep threat after the first quarter, but the Sooners need to be able to find Hollywood deep in the third and fourth quarter of ball games on a consistent basis.

The other area for improvement for Oklahoma is on defense, all of it. It felt like Mike Stoops and the Sooner defense regressed this week, going back to old, bad habits such as not blitzing and sitting back on receivers by 10 to 15 yards.

Iowa State had a lot to do with that. Sophomore quarterback Zeb Noland was largely good, finishing with 360 yards on 25 of 36 passing. Receiver Hakeem Butler was terrific with 174 yards on five catches and two big scores that exposed all sorts of tackling issues.

That tied the game at 10, and I counted four missed tackles. Parnell Motley was the first to miss him. Kahlil Haughton was the second. Tre Norwood and Curtis Bolton both went whiff on Butler before he romped into the end zone.

On Butler’s second score, Parnell Motley got victimized again with Tre Norwood left to chase him into the end zone.

For what it’s worth, Motley had a bad day at the office. Got beat, missed tackles and, well, he saved the game.

Look at what that pressure off the end will buy you. Maybe Oklahoma tried to do that more in the second and third quarters and it wasn’t noticeable by the average football fan. To most folks following the game on social media, it sure seemed as if Mike Stoops had been spooked by Butler’s physicality, speed and his ability to break tackles so he decided to play off Cyclone receivers and lay off the blitzes.

I likened it to a new believer backsliding.

It’s correctable, but it’s got to get fixed if Oklahoma were to have any thoughts of winning a national title. Alabama’s 62-7 win over a decent Mississippi team after the Rebels scored on the first play from scrimmage should serve as a warning to the rest of college football and especially the Sooners that it would take an extraordinary season with a gutsy, go-for-it, aggressive defense to have any shot at a national title.

Or to beat TCU or OSU or West Virginia and win the Big 12.

Enjoy the win. Here’s hoping that the coaching staff recognizes these issues and fixes them posthaste.

The cover photo is from OU football’s Twitter feed.


 

Who steps up for the Oklahoma Sooners now that Rodney Anderson is out?

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The speculation turned to reality Sunday night, and it was just about the worst news imaginable for the No. 5-ranked Oklahoma Sooners. Rodney Anderson had been ruled out for the year, officially.

You see the quotes from Lincoln Riley, shared by Eddie Radosevich, right there: “We’re heartbroken for him. He’s overcome so much in his career, and if anybody can do it again, it’s Rodney.”

Dude broke his leg in 2015.

Broke a vertebra before the season in 2016.

Got falsely accused of rape last year in the midst of his best season as a Sooner.

If anybody is deserving of a little bit of luck to befall him, it’s Rodney Anderson. He was a huge part of Oklahoma’s playoff run last season, and he was going to be the key cog in Oklahoma’s run this season.

What now?

It appears we’l get a steady diet of Trey Sermon, Marcelias Sutton and T.J. Pledger. Here’s what we know about each:

Trey Sermon is a sophomore out of Sprayberry High School in Marietta, Georgia. Last year, he ran for 744 on 121 carries, catching 16 balls for 139 yards. In all, he’s scored eight times in two seasons, seven of those last year. He has bursts of speed but is mostly what I’d call a strong back. He brings the muscle at 6’0″, 224 pounds. He is not afraid of contact.

Of course, I say that and then watch this video. Sermon brings the video game jukes! Here’s two looks at a touchdown he scored against Florida Atlantic:

Marcelias Sutton is a senior out of La Grange, North Carolina, by way of Lackawanna College. Last year, the 5’9″ 192-pound back touched the ball only 22 times for 130 yards, with an additional 32 yards on three catches. So far this year, he’s touched the ball nine times for 71 yards and two TDs. He scored twice last year as well. My perception of Sutton is that he’s a little quicker to the hole, a finesse back for first down whereas Sermon might be the guy you depend on to get one yard when your football life depends on it.

Here’s Sutton scoring against UCLA on Saturday, showing nice balance and a super low center of gravity.

Then there’s T.J. Pledger, the 5’9″ 200-pound freshman from Pacoima, California. He’s the future of the Oklahoma backfield, and that future was here already. In two games, he’s rushed 14 times for 83 yards. No catches out of the backfield yet, and no scores. Yet.

To me, he looks the most like Rodney Anderson. It’s no knock on Sermon or Sutton, but I just have a hunch that if we’re looking for a guy who’s the most like Rodney Anderson to step into this role, my money is on Pledger. Watch this big gain against the Bruins last week, how quick he is to the hole and appears to have break-away speed.

Sooners super against Florida Atlantic, but what about that Austin Kendall injury?

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The Oklahoma Sooners were supposed to lose a step after Heisman winner Baker Mayfield took his talents to the NFL.

Florida Atlantic was supposed to take their next step toward becoming an elite mid-major football program, with many experts projecting a New Year’s Day 6 bowl game for the Owls.

Well, it was a surprise Saturday for some across college football as Oklahoma dominated Lane Kiffin’s FAU 63-14 in a game that was truly over after one quarter.

I watched from sunny Southern California where I went to the UCLA game later that evening. One question stuck in my head after watching both games yesterday was, which team is better right now — the Bruins or the Owls?

Seriously.

The most beautiful part of Saturday’s football surprise might have been the performance of Kyler Murray’s former teammate at Allen High School, Lee Morris.

Morris is a walk-on at Oklahoma. Doubt he’s that for long.

Rodney Anderson opened the scoring on a 30-yard scamper after the Owls had penetrated Oklahoma territory on their opening possession.

My thought after 3:00 of the first quarter was, “Are the Sooners ready to play?”

Offensively they sure were. Kyler Murray went 9 for 11, throwing for 209 yards and running for 23 more. Murray’s passes were clean, but his protection had a lot to do with that. On one of the rare occasions when his protection broke down, Murray made like little Joe and scampered brilliantly for a first down.

Defensively, I sensed this Oklahoma club was more ready to attack than in years past. Redshirt senior Curtis Bolton recovered a blocked punt in the end zone, courtesy of Lee Morris, to give the Sooners a 14-0 lead.

And then Morris, a former high school teammate of Murray in Allen, Texas, hauled in a short pass and took it 65 yards for the score. To be honest, I figured Morris was a tight end and not a wide receiver. Big dude! Fast legs.

And he’s a walk-on? Wow.

Trey Sermon ended the first frame with a 17-yard score before Rodney Anderson and Hollywood Brown matched 65-yard scores, the most impressive part being Murray’s b-o-m-b to Hollywood. That pass was Jason White-esque in its height and length.

https://twitter.com/BarstoolBig12/status/1035944201396125696

It was a thing of beauty.

After that, in came Austin Kendall and the second-team crew. The game was over, and Lincoln Riley knew it. Lane Kiffin knew it. Oklahoma had gone for the kill early so that there were no issues in the second half.

Well, except for one.

Backup QB Kendall slid out of bounds in the fourth quarter and bashed his knee against the big equipment chest on the FAU sideline. It’s no fault of FAU’s. Every team has this, but it didn’t look good at the end of that play.

As of Sunday morning, there was no update on Kendall other than Riley was “optimistic.” On a conference call Monday, Riley said Kendall was questionable for the UCLA game but avoided serious injury.

Truth be told, his optimism might be simply that Kyler Murray looked super solid. It’s just one win, and we don’t know for sure just how bad this FAU team is.

So it’s possible we still don’t yet know just how good this Oklahoma team is.

Gotta stay healthy though. College football is one part talent, two parts execution and a whole lot of attrition.


Fitness Hack: Using sports to pile on the steps

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Since I’ve downloaded the Pedometer++ app, I’ve become a bit obsessed with checking my steps. Considering I have an iPhone and an Apple Watch, I’m not sure why I’m just now really attuned to how much movement I can produce in a given day, but there you go.

I topped 20,000 steps Saturday.

Weekends aren’t lazy for me. I’m go-go-go, whether it on personal projects or chores, and I tend to get more exercise, too.

If you read my blog last week, you’ll know I’m focused on walking at the moment to help ignite some weight loss and strengthen my Achilles tendons. I need to get in leg shape before I get back to running, and I’d like that temperature to get down a bit more, too. We’ve been enjoying upper 80s and lower 90s here in Oklahoma, quite the change from typical 100-degree days this time of year.

My Mom’s treadmill that I inherited is upstairs, and I’m using it every chance I get. I’ve found an easy, easy weekend hack to getting my steps up, too!

Walk during your favorite sporting events.

In my case, I follow Tottenham Hotspur, whose Premier League season started a week ago with a 2-1 win over Newcastle. Spurs won 3-1 over Fulham this weekend to top the league table.

And I walked on the treadmill for the entire match at an easy 2.8 speed.

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By 10:30 a.m., I was at 11,000 steps on my way to 20,000.

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Sure, I mowed the yard later in the day, which means I probably would have hit 10,000 regardless. However, I’ll take any opportunity I can get to push myself well beyond 10,000 steps — especially for those days when I can’t come close.

Sometimes work and life come first no matter what your fitness priorities are.

But what I’ve found is that if you have time to watch sports, you’ve got time to walk — and a soccer match at 90 minutes is totally doable, halftime and all.

#COYS

Best food truck I’ve had in OKC so far: MOB Grill

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One of many cool things about working for Griffin Communications is “food truck Wednesday.” A local eatery on wheels stops by, and we don’t have to venture out for lunch.

First thing I do is snap photos.

I’ve not been diligent about posting my reviews or thoughts after the fact. Most of the trucks have been good.

Today’s was great.

Also: Check our my YouTube channel!

MOB Grill serves burgers and sandwiches, and they serve fries and cheese fries. Super simple menu, and I like that. Most restaurant menus are far too complex.

Too much stuff. Chaos.

I opted for The SQUEALER and MOB fries. Got me for $10, and it was plenty of food. Purposely, I didn’t put a ton of sauce on it. I wanted to see how the meat stood up on its own.

As always, I grabbed more than my share of ketchup.

They were super generous with the meat, as if they knew they had a great product and weren’t afraid to flaunt it. Brutha, this was the juiciest meat I’ve eaten in a while.

Note: if I haven’t written about Rustler’s BBQ in Henryetta, I’ll have to soon. Them and MOB Grill have the best meat I’ve eaten in the Sooner State.

The fries were just like I like ’em: tasty and salty.

And when I posted my photo mosaic to Instagram, they responded in less than five minutes. As a social media manager, that warmed my heart and earned an angel its wings.

Kidding aside, for me, the MOB Grill food truck is an instant yes any time I see it. Really, really strong.

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