Oklahoma returns four senior running backs — Damien Williams, Brennan Clay and Roy Finch, plus fullback Trey Millard — in 2013, giving the Sooners plenty of options in their running attack.
“I think we're fortunate,” said co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel. “We have four guys that carry the ball, have taken good care of the ball for the most part, been highly efficient and effective and have had explosive plays.
“All those guys need touches because they've played effectively. They're experienced. They have played explosively, create big plays for us. Is there a guy that may end up carrying it 20-25 times a game? Might be. It's how those guys separate themselves during fall camp and throughout the season.”
Williams was Oklahoma's leading rusher in 2012, with Clay adding significant production late in the season. Finch rushed for 605 yards and three touchdowns in 2011, but barely saw any offensive action last year.
Millard has shown big-play ability, but the fan favorite has been used mostly as a blocker throughout his career.
“The one thing I'd say, every year that has gone on here, and this goes back to when Adrian Peterson was here, guys get injured,” Heupel said. “You need everybody. We need 105 guys here in fall camp. All four of those guys are going to have their opportunities.”
NELSON: BIG 12 LINEBACKERS NEED SPEED
Senior linebacker Corey Nelson struggled to stay on the field late last season as the Sooners faced several high-powered offensive attacks.
Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops experimented with one- or zero-linebacker sets to combat the spread attacks of Baylor, West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M.
Asked how a linebacker fits in a Big 12 defense, Nelson said it's all about speed.
“If you look at the Big 12 and it's all the spread offense and the zone-read option and QBs throwing the ball all over the place,” Nelson said. “The linebackers like us in the Big 12 have to be able to run. That's the one of the key components we have at the linebacker position. All of our guys can run.”
Nelson and sophomore Frank Shannon are expected to be Oklahoma's two starting linebackers when the season opens Aug. 31 against Louisiana-Monroe.
Bob Stoops, asked about the possibility he'll become the program's all-time winningest coach this season:
“There's no way for me to have known I'd be with the same president and athletic director going on 15 years, which again doesn't happen that much in today's world. When your working environment changes or your family environment changes, sometimes you need to change. Fortunately for me I haven't had to. I've been supported in a great way through great players, great assistant coaches and a great administration that's built these incredible facilities that's given us an opportunity to compete like we have in a positive way.”