NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — While much of the preseason buzz at Oklahoma has focused on who will be the Sooners' starting quarterback, there's also some debate at another important offensive position - running back.
The Sooners have four proven, capable ball carriers in senior tailbacks Brennan Clay, Roy Finch and Damien Williams and senior fullback Trey Millard. And that's not even counting freshman Alex Ross, who has shown promise during preseason practice.
So when No. 16 Oklahoma hosts Louisiana-Monroe on Aug. 31, who receives the bulk of the carries? Or will it be running back by committee? Co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel isn't ready to say.
"All those guys need touches because they play effectively," Heupel said. "They're experienced. They've been explosive and create big plays for us. Is there a guy that might end up carrying it 20 to 25 times a game? Might be. You know, it's how those guys separate themselves during fall came and throughout the season.
"The one thing I'd say every year that has gone on here — and this goes back to when Adrian Peterson was here, too — guys get injured, guys get dinged. You need everybody. . All four of those guys are going to have their opportunities."
Heupel was referencing 2006, when Peterson was contending for the Heisman Trophy before he broke his collarbone diving into the end zone in an October win over Iowa State. Allen Patrick, himself a future NFL back, and Chris Brown and Jacob Gutierrez stepped in during Peterson's absence and performed capably.
Seven years later, the Sooners are just about as deep at the position. Williams started nine games last season and led Oklahoma in rushing with 946 yards (averaging 5.4 yards per carry) while scoring 11 touchdowns. He rushed for 167 yards, including a 95-yard touchdown run, in a win over Texas.
Clay rushed for 555 yards and six touchdowns, including a 157-yard effort in a win over Iowa State, and averaged 6 yards per carry.
The 6-foot-2, 259-pound Millard was a second-team All-Big 12 Conference selection - as a tight end, where he caught 30 passes for 337 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 198 yards and averaged 6 yards per carry in the backfield. He had one of the Sooners' most memorable plays of 2012, catching a short pass from Landry Jones and going for a 73-yard gain, hurdling Texas cornerback Adrian Phillips in the process.