When it comes to the football field, there might not be anyone who's more familiar with Baker Mayfield than Lincoln Riley.
And while the Oklahoma head coach acknowledged his former star quarterback's disappointing second season with the Cleveland Browns, he also said that he has full confidence than Mayfield will bounce back in a big way in 2020.
"I know the kind of competitor and player that he is. He's hungry. He's had a tremendous offseason so far," Riley said while appearing on ESPN's First Take on Monday morning. "I know he's very excited about the new staff coming in and being able to have some continuity with some of these players, especially his receivers coming back."
Riley's comments come after a 2019 campaign in which Mayfield tallied the second-most interceptions in the NFL with 21 while seeing drops in his completion percentage and touchdowns from his record-breaking rookie season. Perhaps most damning, the 2018 No. 1 overall pick was only able to lead Cleveland to a 6-10 record in 2019, falling well short of the lofty expectations both the Browns and Mayfield entered the season with.
Asked what went wrong for Mayfield in 2019, Riley pointed to Cleveland's lack of continuity and the simple need for him to improve his play.
"Baker would be the first to admit, and he has, that he has to play better and he will," Riley said. "Having an organized cast around you, guys that are healthy, a system that fits -- it takes everything. And if one little part is off -- whether it's another player, somebody being hurt, a scheme that doesn't fit, whatever, if any part of it's off, then it's going to show. Especially at that level."
But for all that went wrong last season, Riley said his history with Mayfield suggests that it won't take long for the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner to turn things around.
"I would expect for him to do what he's always done anytime he's got knocked down," Riley said, "which is he gets back up and he fights and he normally finds a way to win. I fully expect he'll do that again."