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Oklahoma football: How the tight end has re-emerged, through fullbacks

Fullbacks bookended the offensive line as outside blockers in last week's win at Kansas.
by Jason Kersey Modified: October 23, 2013 at 1:00 pm •  Published: October 22, 2013

— Tight ends reassumed a significant role in Oklahoma's offense last weekend at Kansas.

The Sooners regularly used two-tight-end sets in the 34-19 victory, with fullbacks Trey Millard and Aaron Ripkowski bookending the offensive line as outside blockers.

“We're trying to run the ball some more, and that's where they thought they might need to bring in some more blockers, so they brought us in to have two tight ends instead of just one,” Ripkowski said. “It's really working well for us.”

The versatile fullbacks have become incredibly valuable as the Sooners continue to work out kinks in their passing game with quarterback Blake Bell. Millard and Ripkowski can line up in the backfield or on the line of scrimmage, allowing Oklahoma to keep the same personnel group on the field and still change formations.

With No. 10 Texas Tech and its prolific offense coming to town Saturday afternoon, the Sooner offense's ability to stay on the field and drain time off the clock will be important.

“We're playing an opponent that's scoring a lot of points, so we're gonna have to really be efficient and take care of each drive,” said co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell. “We're not gonna be able to mess around and find our way through a game. We're gonna have to move the ball, be efficient and score points.”

For all its struggles offensively so far this season, Oklahoma's run game has — for the most part — been strong, particularly in the fourth quarter of victories when the Sooners needed to eat up clock.

Oklahoma held possession of the ball for 12:22 of the fourth quarter against Kansas, and for 12:11 of the fourth in its Sept. 28 victory at Notre Dame.

“We've had some success in it,” Millard said of the two-tight sets. “Especially just finishing out games, we've had quite a bit of success with being able to stay on the field and running out clock. When we've had to do that, we've done a good job running it, even when the defenses know we're going to run it.”

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by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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