Oklahoma Football 2011: Previewing Bob Stoops' Running Back by Committee
I know it hurts to hear it, but we as Oklahoma Sooners fans must move on from the DeMarco Murray era. Because such an immense talent is leaving, coach Bob Stoops looks to have multiple running backs in the backfield this fall.
Sure, many pundits will criticize Bob Stoops for using multiple backs, but historically it makes quite a bit of sense, and it has worked before.
When Adrian Peterson was injured, the likes of Allen Patrick, Chris Brown and Jacob Gutierrez produced more yards while he was on the bench.
Why is this?
It’s common practice to have multiple running backs coming in with fresh legs sharing the load. When this is done it makes it harder for opposing coaches to game-plan against you.
With each Sooner running back this season having a different style, look for quarterback Landry Jones to settle down in hostile environments—something he has had trouble doing in the past.
During the 2010 season, the Sooners rushing game finished seventh in the Big 12 with 138 yards per game. Don’t expect the Sooners to finish any worse than third in that category this upcoming season with a backfield like this.
Thanks to the recruiting tactics of my hero, Coach Stoops, the Sooners now have an embarrassment of riches. Because of this, I am more than happy to present this slideshow previewing the Sooner backfield for the 2011 season.
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Reminding Sooners fans of former OU great Quentin Griffin, Roy Finch brings a nice change of pace to the Sooner running game. Finch in 2010 came in and gave many teams fits because of his footwork once he reaches the second level of the defense.
Look for this to happen again in 2011—but this time as a starter. In the first game on Sept. 3, expect Finch to get a bulk of his yards against a poor Tulsa run defense. Finch’s biggest test as a starter will come on the road against a hostile Florida State team that is hungry for revenge after an embarrassing 47-17 loss in Norman last year.
In 2011, Finch will likely take most of his carries from the shotgun formation because of his elusiveness. His small size enables him to hide behind the massive Sooner linemen before squirting into the secondary for big chunks of yardage.
According to OffensiveBreakdown at Blogspot, Finch’s “Diamond Formation” carries will come out of the following plays: Inside Zone, Inside Zone Cross and a Power play led by outstanding fullback Trey Millard.
By the way, does anyone remember that touchdown he had against Baylor where he kept his balance after almost being knocked down? Absolutely amazing.
Though Brennan Clay (5'11'', 185 pounds) won't get the bulk of the carries, look for him to obtain around 400 yards this fall being a transition back on second and third down. He indeed is a talented athlete, but with freshman Brandon Williams coming in, the promised workload won’t be much for the former 4-star athlete.
Clay comes off as a Mossis Madu-type: His running style is a little bit of the same, and he has a bit of a jump when it comes to dodging defenders.
Clay is third stringer and that's fine; he is a critical piece to the Sooners running game on third and short situations. Look for Clay to move the chains several times this season for Landry Jones.
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Okay I admit it—Dominique Whaley is quite the talent coming out of Langston University in Oklahoma City.
Whaley impressed me a lot while I was inside Oklahoma Memorial stadium during the annual Red and White game. There were many times when I looked down to write a note about the offense only to find him trudging through the Sooners defense fighting for extra yards. His spring game debut ended with 65 yards.
Not bad considering it was a controlled scrimmage.
His core fundamentals are there, but it's hard to get a player on the field who is currently not on scholarship.
Though it will be a crowded backfield, look for Whaley to get some carries during key situations this season, but he must earn it.
Competition will be stiff this fall, so there is little room for error in the eyes of Oklahoma running backs coach Cale Gundy. Look for Whaley to push more talented players this fall in the Sooners backfield.
Photo Courtesy of Oklahoma.247sports
The Garland, Texas, native had 18 carries for 130 yards last season in 2010.
Jonathan Miller is a tremendous talent, but there is a concern in terms of him getting the right amount of carries to keep that big smile on his face.
If Miller does not come through with at least 300 yards this season, expect the transfer talk to come out of Norman at season's end.
Photo Courtesy of Indiatimes
I remember being a young Sooner watching the 2003 National Championship game and hearing the announcers talk about the big arrival of Adrian Peterson the next season.
Though A.D. came in with a shoulder injury, a lot of people in Norman were excited to have the freshman from Palestine, Texas. Months later, we then saw a kid unleash a wrath we have never seen before on college football.
I must admit, I’m getting that same feeling again about freshman running back Brandon Williams (5’11’’, 189 pounds).
Brandon Williams looks to develop like fine wine during his time with Oklahoma. Similar to the build of Darren McFadden, Williams can add to his frame with strength and conditioning coach Jerry Schmidt during his offseasons in Norman.
One of the biggest keys for Brandon Williams' success at Oklahoma will be staying healthy. In the past, Bob Stoops has been known to run his prized players into the ground with a huge workload; this must not happen this time around.
If Bob wants to sustain a healthy, consistent running back for three seasons, he must decrease the workload to keep Williams from getting banged up.
Look for Williams to play the DeMarco Murray role inside of the “Diamond Formation” this fall. Due to his style of play, most of his carries will come in either on a quick sweep or a downhill formation where OU pulls an offensive guard in a single back set.
Photo Courtesy of Nationalfootballpost
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Okay I’m going to be honest here, I did expect more out of Jermie Calhoun’s football career in Norman.
Coming out of high school, Calhoun was a 5-star recruit, being named second in the nation at his position by Rivals.com. Since his arrival in Norman, it has been quite a disappointment not living up to the hype of the Sooner running back tradition.
Calhoun is a big, powerful type of back that you would love to have in your pro-style offense. Only problem is that the Sooner offense has a tendency to run out of shotgun formations, limiting him and his abilities in Norman.
Unfortunately, if you lack quickness out of the backfield, your carries will drop amongst the rest of your teammates.
If Calhoun can pick up the offensive scheme and increase his footwork with the football, expect for more garbage time minutes during Sooner blowouts this fall.