NORMAN, Okla. -- A year ago, new Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley was still installing his Air Raid system while trying to figure out who would be his quarterback.By the end of the season, he had won the Broyles Award for the nations top assistant coach, quarterback Baker Mayfield had finished fourth in the Heisman balloting and the Sooners had qualified for the College Football Playoff.We played better as we went on, Riley said. Part of that, it was Year 1, and it was just a progression of it. We knew what our identity was the entire way, we just werent great at it, yet. Kind of around midseason, we started playing better and got some confidence, and we were able to take it from there.Now a much wealthier man after a significant raise, the 32-year-old Riley has much of the talent from last years squad back, including Mayfield and fellow Heisman candidate Samaje Perine at running back for the third-ranked Sooners.Not only is our team more equipped and totally now understands our offense -- whats required and all the little nuances of it, but now also, coach Riley knows what he has to work with, where a year ago, hes still piecing all that together, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. I just feel like overall, theres a lot more confidence and its a lot more fluid.Oklahoma will need all the offense it can get. The Sooners open with No. 15 Houston on Sept. 3 at Reliant Stadium, then host No. 6 Ohio State two weeks later. There will be no time for a slow start like the offense had last year.Theres certainly an expectation we have to be play better, Riley said. I think our guys have a strong understanding if we dont, were going to be in trouble. We play some real good teams in the beginning. We have to be very good, very early.Stoops has no doubt that Riley will have the team ready. Overall, the Sooners ranked fourth in school history in points per game (43.5), third in yards per game (530.2) and third in yards per play (6.80) last season. The Sooners posted huge numbers in two of their most critical games last year, victories over Baylor and Oklahoma State.Lincoln is really organized and very detailed and/or sure of what he wants to do, Stoops said. Therefore, the things we put on the field have been well rehearsed. Hes got a great feel for play-calling and mixing the run and the pass. Hes a great communicator with the coaches and the players.With Riley calling the shots, Mayfields 2015 season was one of the best at Oklahoma. He passed for 3,700 yards and 36 touchdowns, and his completion percentage was second in school history for a single season.Mayfield said Rileys value goes beyond the game plan.Hes not a guy thats going to yell at you, but at the same time, he can kind of crack the whip when he needs to, Mayfield said. I respect him a lot because he knows when to flip the switch and be serious, but at the same time, hes a guy you can just talk to and I very much enjoy that, to be able to go into the meeting room and when were not talking about football, to just be able to relax.Rileys biggest challenge will be finding ways to fill the void left by receiver Sterling Shepard, who has moved on to the NFL. Dede Westbrook, last years No. 2 receiver, had 46 catches for 743 yards last season. Mark Andrews, an All-Big 12 selection last season, had seven touchdown grabs. Geno Lewis, a transfer from Penn State, should fit in immediately.Stoops said balance is what Rileys offense is all about. The hope is more equal distribution of touches makes the offense even more difficult to defend.I think well be further along than that this year, where well have more guys contribute, Stoops said. Hopefully, in some of those games, 10 guys have receptions, multiple guys have several receptions. Thats what this offense is designed to do. I think well be more that way this year.---Freelance writer Murray Evans in Norman, Oklahoma, contributed to this report.---Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: (at)CliffBruntAP . Jose Fernandez Jersey .com) - Christian Ponder will get another chance to prove himself for the Minnesota Vikings, with head coach Leslie Frazier announcing Wednesday that the struggling quarterback will start this weekends game against the Green Bay Packers. Martin Prado Jersey .J. -- Pitcher Carl Pavano is retiring after 14 major league seasons. http://www.marlinsteamproshop.com/Marlins-Bryan-Holaday-Kids-Jersey/ . 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English jockey Paul Hanagan has lost his position as No.1 rider for Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum.Hanagan was announced as Sheikh Hamdans first-choice rider in February 2012 after the retirement of Richard Hills but the alliance came to an end with two rides at Wolverhampton on Friday evening.Sheikh Hamdans racing manager Angus Gold said in a statement issued to Press Association Sport: On behalf of Sheikh Hamdan I would like to thank Paul very much for all his work for us over the last four years.We have enjoyed some great days together, highlighted by Taghrooda, Muhaarar and Mukhadram and he has contributed enormously to their successful racing careers.On a personal level I would like to pay tribute to Pauls tremendous attitude and fantastic worth ethic.Britains chammpion jockey in 2010 and 2011, 36-year-old Hanagan said he was looking forward to new challenges.dddddddddddd am disappointed that our partnership has come to an end, but I have to put these things into perspective particularly at this time when my close friend Freddy Tylicki has suffered life-changing injuries. 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