After averaging 3.3 yards a carry average last season — the lowest in school history — the Sooners vowed to improve their ground game.
Hitting the weights in the offseason, streamlining blocking assignments, Oklahoma was vastly improved Saturday night in a 47-14 win over Tulsa.
“We were 112th or whatever in the country last year, 3.3 yards a rush, 12th in the Big 12,” said offensive coordinator Josh Heupel. “For us moving forward we needed to become better in that area.”
The Sooners were much better.
Led by a solid performance from the offensive line and running back Dominique Whaley's smashing debut, the Sooners rushed for 246 yards. They averaged 5.3 yards per carry.
“It was good to see some of that,” Heupel said. “Are we a finished product? By no stretch of the imagination. But it was positive to see some signs of life in that regard.”
Tulsa was decent against the run last season. The real test will be the two games after the bye week, a high profile road showdown at Florida State followed by the Big 12 opener against Missouri.
Granted, both played outmanned opponents Saturday. But both teams stuffed the run.
Florida State held Louisiana-Monroe to 99 rushing yards, 2.5 yards per carry.
Missouri held Miami Ohio to 76 rushing yards, 2.1 yards per carry.
The real key is the red zone. When the Sooners got near the goal-line against Tulsa they pounded it in.
“We put some fastball schemes in so they can be physical,” said co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell. “That's a big plus for us to get where we want to be. If we can rush the ball really consistently we'll be hard to beat because we feel we've got a great quarterback and good receivers.”