NORMAN — A few days into Oklahoma's preseason practices this fall, senior running back Brennan Clay publicly stated his “ultimate goal” for the season.
“I'm shooting for 1,000 (yards) this year, believe it or not,” Clay said.
With two regular-season games and a bowl to go, Clay has rushed for a team-leading 643 yards, but is only averaging around 10 carries a game. His thousand-yard goal has become virtually impossible while splitting carries with fellow seniors Damien Williams and Roy Finch, and Clay admitted the lack of carries has been frustrating.
“I personally feel like, as a running back, you need to feel the ball at least 12 or 15 times to get in a rhythm,” Clay said this week. “It's hard, especially getting a feel for the defense. Mentally you can get in someone's head after a few reps on them. You can see if they're tired or not, or how they like to play. … Getting in a rhythm as a running back is extremely important, but we make the best of our carries.”
The Sooners travel to face Kansas State on Saturday morning, and the trend of splitting carries between several running backs is sure to continue. Williams has a team-high 114 carries this season, and Finch has 52 rushes for 326 yards.
Oklahoma's run game has been the best, most successful part of its offense this season, and lots of that has to do with its impressive stable of running backs.
Clay rushed for a season-high 22 carries and 170 yards in the Sooners' win over West Virginia in early September, but hasn't recorded more than nine carries in the last six games.
Clay's 76-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter Oct. 5 against TCU helped the Sooners secure a tough 20-17 victory. A few days later, coach Bob Stoops said the long run could partially be attributed to the fact that Clay was still fresh late in the game because of splitting carries.