OU football: Stoops prefers tailbacks on kickoff returns?
Bob Stoops listed his candidates to return kickoffs and mentioned five guys. Four tailbacks and one receiver. Only Trey Franks is a receiver. The tailbacks Stoops mentioned were Roy Finch, Dominique Whaley, Brandon Williams and Jonathan Miller.
“All our fast guys that can run,” Stoops said. “I prefer not to use many receivers. Those guys aren’t used to it, maybe as much as the backs, at handling those returns. I guess I got spooked all the way back to Manny Johnson when he got taken out against (Texas) Tech. Those receivers sometimes aren’t quite as thick as those backs are.”
Stoops was referring to a 2006 game in which Johnson was rung up by the Red Raiders. And you know what? Stoops was telling it straight. He had a massive shift in kickoff return philosophy after that.
In 2006, receivers had 16 kickoff returns to just seven for running backs. That’s with Juaquin Iglesias getting the majority (14). In 2005, running backs had just four kickoff returns, with Reggie Smith and Travis Wilson getting the majority. In 2004, wide receivers had all 28 kickoff returns. No running back returned a kickoff. The duty was left to Wilson, Mark Clayton, Brandon Jones, Mark Bradley and JeJuan Rankins. In 2003, same way. No running backs with a kickoff return, while Antonio Perkins, Rankins, Bradley and Clayton had all 30.
And before that, receivers were the prime kickoff returners for Stoops. People like Brandon Daniels and Jarrail Jackson and Antwone Savage.
But since 2006, Stoops has shifted away from receivers. He let Iglesias keep the duty in 2007-08, since Iglesias was one of the best in OU history. Iglesias had 29 kickoff returns in 2007 and 20 in 2008; no other receiver returned a kickoff, while running backs (primarily DeMarco Murray) became Iglesias’ partner. In 2009, running backs had 22 kickoff returns to just four for receivers. In 2010, it was 27-11, with Trey Franks the only receiver.
So there’s no doubt that Stoops is doing this. But should he? I can’t comment on the fumble or injury factor. I have no evidence one way or another. But I can tell you this. The most prolific kickoff returners in OU history have been receivers.
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