NORMAN — Oklahoma returns virtually all of its rushing production from last season, making this unit a deep and experienced one.
The lone loss is Dominique Whaley, who never fully recovered from his ankle injury two seasons ago. He ended up appearing in only six games last season, getting 39 carries for 243 yards.
Continuing my unit-by-unit look at the 2013 Sooners, here’s a glance at Oklahoma’s running backs entering Saturday’s spring game.
No.; Name; Cl.; Ht.; Wt.
26; Damien Williams; Sr.; 6-0; 208
24; Brennan Clay; Sr.; 5-11; 201
28; Alex Ross; RFr.; 6-1; 204
22; Roy Finch; Sr.; 5-7; 167
No.; Name; Cl.; Ht.; Wt.
33; Trey Millard; Sr.; 6-2; 256
48; Aaron Ripkowski; Jr.; 6-1; 260
Running backs analysis: OU’s 2012 leading rusher, Damien Williams, enters next season as the starter and definitely has 1,000-yard potential. Last season, he rushed for 946 yards and 11 touchdowns, including an electric 95-yarder in the Sooners’ rout of Texas. Clay finally began showing his full potential last season, leading OU in rushing in its win at Iowa State and scoring the game winning touchdown in Bedlam’s overtime.
Roy Finch rarely saw the field on offense last season after starting seven games his sophomore season. Coach Bob Stoops said he’s done well in spring practice, so Finch could see his role increase again as a senior.
“Roy is doing really well,” Stoops said. “Roy has had a lot of really good days. Roy has played well.”
Redshirt freshmen Alex Ross and David Smith could start earning some carries next season, as well.
Then, of course, there’s fullback Trey Millard.
Millard picked up 198 yards on 33 rushes — a 6-yards per carry average — last season, and also caught 30 passes for 337 yards and four touchdowns.
In an interview with former Sooners Dusty Dvoracek and Teddy Lehman on their KREF radio show, OU running backs coach Cale Gundy said coaches would like Millard to touch the ball “eight to 10 times a game, at least” in 2013.
“The problem that Trey runs into, and it’s kind of a different situation, is he’s also our best fullback, and he’s also our best tight end,” Gundy said. “If we had a Jermaine Gresham, he would never have to worry about taking reps there. If we had a Brody Eldridge or a Joe Jon Finley, we wouldn’t have to worry about Trey taking reps there.
“Because of the multi-talent that Trey has of being your best blocker, your best tight end, your best route runner at tight end, it pulls back some of his opportunities and chances of doing other things. It’s been a difficult one. Obviously we know it. Trey knows it. We’re trying to find ways to try to get him the ball in certain situations.
“Our best ball carriers last year were Damien Williams and Trey Millard. It would be 1 and 1A. But because of those situations, he doesn’t get as many.”
Here’s a full schedule for the “State of the Sooners” series:
Monday, 11 a.m.: Special teams
Monday, 2 p.m.: Defensive backs
Tuesday, 11 a.m.: Linebackers
Tuesday, 2 p.m.: Defensive linemen
Wednesday, 11 a.m.: Offensive linemen
Wednesday, 2 p.m.: Tight ends
Thursday, 11 a.m.: Wide receivers
Thursday, 2 p.m.: Running backs
Friday, 11 a.m.: Quarterbacks