OU football notebook: Sooner running back Roy Finch carries the load
NORMAN — University of Oklahoma sophomore running back Roy Finch rushed for 99 yards on a career high 26 carries in Oklahoma's 41-25 win over Texas A&M on Saturday.
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“When I found out I was surprised I had 26 carries,” Finch said. “I was asked to carry the load today. I feel I did a pretty good job of seeing things, making cuts, playing physical. I got beat up a little bit, but I tried to deliver blows instead of taking them.”
Finch is Oklahoma's No. 1 back since Dominique Whaley suffered a season ending broken ankle a week ago. Because Finch weighs 167 pounds, coaches were planning to limit his carries, but he ran hard.
“If coaches called my name five times, 10 times or 30 times I just wanted to go out and prove to my teammates that I could do it for them,” Finch said.
Finch was over 100 yards rushing but was thrown for a 2-yard loss on his final carry late in the game.
Center Ben Habern, who missed the previous five games with a broken forearm, played in six series while wearing a cast. Gabe Ikard started at center and played only center. Adam Shead started at left guard.
“The NCAA has a rule (the cast) can only be one-quarter inch (thick) and I only wear it now during games,” Habern said. “It felt fine. It helped me get back in game shape. It was fun to get back out there with the guys.”
Rover Tony Jefferson, hampered by a sore right knee, was only in for one play.
“He probably wishes he played more, but they're a strong physical, running team,” said defensive coordinator Brent Venables. “The sets they gave us with their personnel we felt a bigger body would be better suited.”
Middle linebacker Tom Wort suffered a sprained left ankle on the final play of the first quarter. Wort appeared for only one more play a kickoff return. Jaydan Bird played the remainder of the game at middle linebacker.
Running back Brennan Clay, hampered by a neck stinger, had only one carry. He tweeted after the game “I've become invisible on the sideline,” but later deleted the tweet.
Senior cornerback Jamell Fleming, returning 17 days after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, had a monster game, compiling six tackles, two pass breakups, a quarterback hurry, an interception and a fumble recovery.
DEFENSE CONTROLS A&M'S RUN GAME
Texas A&M rushed for 148 yards and averaged 5.1 yards per carry but OU controlled the Aggies' ground game.
“That was the focus of the week,” Venables said. “They're a terrific running team, easily the best running team we've seen this year. We had great respect for their backs and their line. We felt the game would be won at the line of scrimmage. And it was. The front seven played great.”
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