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Oklahoma football: Why not give the ball to Trey Millard?

COMMENTARY — OU's ‘Slash' is sometimes a victim of his own versatility. It would be fun to see what he could do as the Sooners' featured running back.
by Jenni Carlson Modified: July 31, 2013 at 11:30 am •  Published: July 30, 2013

— Josh Heupel wants more from his offense's running game this season.

Oklahoma averaged 4.8 yards a carry last season, 4.5 yards a season before. Both were dramatic improvements over the measly 3.3 yards a carry that the Sooners averaged in 2010, the season before Heupel took over the offense.

But the Sooner offensive coordinator wants more.

“We can be better,” he said Tuesday after the annual media golf outing at Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club. “That's something we are and have been pushing for.”

I've got two words for you, Josh.

Trey Millard.

The versatile senior has been nicknamed “Slash” by Sooner coach Bob Stoops because of all the positions he plays. He's a fullback/tight end/H-back/running back.

But here's a radical idea: Why couldn't Millard be OU's feature back?

I decided to ask Heupel.

“Do I think he's got the skill set to be a great impact player with the ball in his hands?” Heupel said. “Absolutely. When you look at what he's been able to do in some of our boot packages or play-action package or when he's been able to carry the football, he's been explosive with the ball in his hands.

“So absolutely, he's a guy who's continued to grow with the number of touches that we've been able to get him. I do hopefully see that trend happening again this year.”

More touches for Millard. Where have we heard that before?

It has become a familiar refrain from the Sooners the past year or so. There's been lots of talk from coaches and players about getting Millard more touches.

And last season, his numbers did go up. He had nine more carries and 17 more catches than the previous season, his total touches going from 37 as a sophomore to 63 as a junior.

But still, that's less than five touches a game.

That's not enough.

Especially when it comes to carrying the ball.

Last season, the Sooners had some good tailback talent led by Damien Williams, who I really like to see carry the ball, but overall, they were still average running the football. Sometimes, they were down right awful. That was most evident in the red zone; the every-down offense was permanently replaced by the Belldozer.

Want to doze some defenders?

Hand the ball to Millard a bit more and see what happens.

Even though Millard is good when he catches the ball — getting in open space and being able to plow over undersized defenders is a definite plus — he is exceptional out of the backfield. Last season, he averaged 6.0 yards a carry.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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