OU football: Sooners seek answers to running game woes

By John Helsley Published: October 16, 2008
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NORMAN — Duke Robinson wants to run the ball.

Better. With attitude.

And more.

Oklahoma’s All-American guard finds himself at odds with the Sooners’ struggles in the run game — and what he believes is a lack of commitment to rushing the football.

"We ain’t running it enough,” a clearly frustrated Robinson said this week.

"We just need to run it more often. That’s about it.”

Robinson said a strong running game comes through continued banging on defenses, allowing a powerful line like OU’s to wear down enemy fronts by force.

This Sooner team prefers to pass, in turn passing on the run.

And when they do run, the Sooners haven’t run all that well.

DeMarco Murray, a preseason pick for All-Big 12, hasn’t regained the form that made him a threat to go the distance at any time, before a late-2007 knee injury required surgery.

"It’s not going as I thought it would be,” said Murray, who has appeared tentative.

OU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson notices it, too. He wonders if there’s something — mental or physical — holding Murray back.

"Some guys come back as good,” Wilson said. "But are they right away? Does it take time? Sometimes those things take a year to get fully back.

"Will he be back to as good or better? I don’t know. I don’t think anybody knows.”

Chris Brown has been solid, yet doesn’t fit the game-breaker mold.

While the Sooners rank fifth in the Big 12 in rushing yards per game at 157.2, their 3.7 per carry average is tied for 10th.

And lately, particularly in games against ranked teams with solid defenses — TCU and Texas — OU has not only sputtered on the ground, it’s surrendered somewhat and basically abandoned efforts.