Oklahoma got its best win of the season in Week 9 against Texas Tech. Unfortunately for the Sooners, it also cost them their best utility player in the process.
Head coach Bob Stoops confirmed after the 38-30 win that fullback Trey Millard had torn his ACL and another ligament in his knee. The senior will have season-ending surgery to repair the damage in a few weeks.
Statistically speaking, Millard wasn't anywhere close to being the leading rusher or receiver, and he had only two touchdowns on the year. But anyone who has watched Oklahoma play over the past four years understands how important Millard has been not just to the offense, but to the team.
“We’ll miss him everywhere," Stoops said Monday during the Big 12 coaches teleconference. "He’s been our best special teams guy for years. He gives us so many dimensions on offense."
"He’s a great leader. It’s hard to overcome it.”
Millard's injury leaves a substantial gap to fill because of all the different hats he wore during his career. At 6'2" and 253 pounds, Millard has ideal size for a fullback. He also possesses the speed and athleticism that allows OU to use him in a variety of ways.
First and foremost, he's an excellent pass-catcher. Against Texas in 2012, Millard had five catches for 119 yards and a touchdown, including a 73-yard catch-and-run out of the backfield.
That play encompasses all the qualities that make Millard valuable: pass-catching skills, speed and toughness.
Oklahoma also likes to use Millard as a running back for many of the same reasons. He's been known to line up behind or next to the quarterback in either a pistol or shotgun formation and carry the ball.
If there's a way Millard can be utilized, OU has probably done it already. He pass protects, run blocks, lines up along the line like an extra tight end, catches, runs, you name it.
Replacing Millard's production won't be easy, and the power running game Oklahoma has shifted to this year won't be the same with out him. It will be interesting to see if, and how, Oklahoma adjusts to football without the senior fullback, but there's no denying this is a huge loss for the Sooners.
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. All quotes obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval.