NORMAN — Damien Williams did it all Saturday night in Oklahoma’s 69-13 win over Florida A&M at Gaylord Family — Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
The junior running back scored rough-and-tumble touchdowns and flashy ones; he sprinted for long-yardage scores and plunged through Rattler defenders for short ones.
All told, the junior-college transfer carried the ball 10 times; four of those touches ended with Williams celebrating in the end zone. His 156 rushing yards are the most-ever by an Oklahoma player in his home debut.
In each of No. 5 Oklahoma’s first two games this season, he’s busted off long, second-half touchdowns; Saturday’s was an 89-yard score in the third quarter.
“If I see daylight, I feel like I’m gone,” Williams said. “If somebody catches me, I’m gonna pat them on the head and say, ‘Good job, but you’re gonna have to keep doing it.’”
But Williams wasn’t just a flash back Saturday, and the emergence of a such a big, strong runner could mean a decreased dependence on the short-yardage package known as the Belldozer, in which second-team quarterback Blake Bell enters, takes the snap and plows forward for first downs or touchdowns.
The Sooners began using the Belldozer last season after starters Dominique Whaley and Ryan Broyles were lost to season-ending injuries. Bell scored 11 of OU’s last 14 touchdowns of the 2011 season and quickly became a fan favorite.
Saturday, OU went to the Belldozer just twice. Both attempts came in the first half, and the first try — on OU’s first offensive possession — failed when Bell was stopped for a 1-yard loss.
“Damien’s ability to have some strength, running through some trash is something that’s a positive for us,” said co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel.
Early Saturday, the Rattlers (0-2), a Football Championship Subdivision school, went blow-for-blow with the Sooners; the teams exchanged punts to open the game — and, unlike FAMU, Oklahoma couldn’t muster a first down on its opening series.
But on the Sooners’ second drive, quarterback Landry Jones completed back-to-back passes for first downs; the second was a slick one-handed grab across the middle by Kenny Stills, who held onto the ball despite sustaining a vicious blow that resulted in a 15-yard penalty.
Williams ended the drive by powering his way into the end zone for a 3-yard score. After Florida A&M went three-and-out on its ensuing drive — and senior Justin Brown returned a punt to the Rattlers’ 4 — Williams punched it in for another touchdown, his third in three carries going back to the season opener.
Williams’ quick start — he’s scored five touchdowns and rushed for 259 yards in his first two OU games — is especially impressive considering the Sooners’ offensive scheme is vastly different than anything Williams has ever been part of. Through high school and at Arizona Western, he ran in a slower-paced, more traditional offense as opposed to OU’s no-huddle attack.
But Williams, who led all junior-college backs last season in rushing yards at Arizona Western, has quickly picked up all aspects of OU’s scheme, including pass-blocking.
“I’m getting used to the fast-paced offense,” Williams said. “You’ve gotta be if you want to play. Everything is going as planned, so I feel like I’m doing well.”
Whaley — playing at home for the first time since last year’s season-ending ankle injury — fumbled with 12:58 left in the first half and didn’t see the field again until the third quarter.
“Dom hasn’t taken care of the ball the last two weeks,” Heupel said. “Obviously we as a football team need to take care of the ball. We had three of them on the ground last week, another one tonight. You can’t play winning football if you’re gonna do that.”
Williams said the running backs, despite the competition for carries, are still pulling for each other, and wouldn’t say he deserves to take over as the Sooners’ starting running back.
“I don’t feel like I deserve anything right now,” Williams said. “I just need to keep playing hard and things will come how they do.”