NORMAN — The Red-White Game turned into a Cream-the-Crimson scrimmage Saturday at Owen Field. Tailbacks Justin Johnson and Jermie Calhoun, young but ballyhooed, kept getting bulldogged four yards deep in the backfield Saturday by Frank Alexander or Jeremy Beal or some other Sooner headhunter, and you wondered about the status of the Oklahoma running game this autumn.
The numbers were ugly: 42 tailback carries, 67 yards. Even when Slingin’ Sammy Bradford was in the game and flinging the ball with his Heisman precision, the tailbacks did little — seven yards on five carries. Which is no small concern. For all the well-earned prominence of OU quarterbacks, Sooner tailbacks have been just as consistent over the Bob Stoops era. OU has produced seven 1,000-yard rushing individual rushing seasons in the last seven years. And while, yes, Adrian Peterson produced three of those, superhumans didn’t record them all. Peterson’s average per carry in his three seasons: 5.4, 5.0 and 5.7 yards. Chris Brown’s and DeMarco Murray’s in 2008, when both cracked 1,000 yards: 5.6 each. And Allen Patrick was 5.8 in 2007, when he also reached quadruple figures. The evidence is clear. The Stoops Sooners can run the ball. But with a brand new offensive line, can they in 2009? "It’s kind of disappointing to run the ball like that in front of everybody,” Bradford said, referring to the crowd of 28,592. "Obviously, we’d like to run the ball better. We’ve run the ball better this spring.” Good, solid git-’er-done stance by Bradford. But completely unnecessary.