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State of the Sooners: Oklahoma's running backs entering the 2014 spring game

by Ryan Aber Modified: April 11, 2014 at 12:50 pm •  Published: April 11, 2014
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OU's Keith Ford (21) runs through the Texas defense during the Red River Rivalry college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the University of Texas Longhorns (UT) at the Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas, Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman
OU's Keith Ford (21) runs through the Texas defense during the Red River Rivalry college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the University of Texas Longhorns (UT) at the Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas, Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman

NORMAN — Continuing our unit-by-unit look at the 2014 Oklahoma football team, here is a look at the Sooners’ linebackers entering Saturday’s spring game.

RUNNING BACK
21; Keith Ford; So.; 5-11; 202
28; Alex Ross; So.; 6-2; 221
XX; Joe Mixon; Fr.; 6-2; 216

FULLBACK
48; Aaron Ripkowski; Sr.; 6-1; 261
36; Dimitri Flowers; Fr.; 6-1; 234

RUNNING BACKS ANALYSIS: The Sooners have to replace virtually all of their running back production from last year, as more than 92 percent of their running-back rushing yards last season came from now-departed Brennan Clay, Roy Finch, Trey Millard and Damien Williams.

At running back, Ford (23 carries, 134 yards) and Ross (3-19) return, though both had their issues as freshmen. For Ford, it was not hanging onto the ball. He fumbled against both Texas and Kansas (though only one was officially recorded as the other came near the sidelines) and didn’t play much the rest of the way. Ross’ issue came on his first carry when he picked up a personal foul penalty.

Ross has been one of the players that has been talked about constantly through spring practices as he’s showed a good combination of speed and power.

Ford is significantly stronger than he was last season.

Saturday will be another big step for both, as they get their last chance to shine before the arrival of Mixon, the five-star signee who has been compared often to Adrian Peterson. Those expectations are certainly lofty but Mixon has the potential to be that type of player and figures to be in the mix for playing time very early.

At fullback, Ripkowski seemed to be the heir apparent to Millard’s fullback/H-back/tight end spot after the way he filled in last year once Millard went down. But Flowers, an early enrollee who was recruited to fill that role, is looking like a player who will force his way into the lineup immediately. Certainly there’s plenty of room for two in that role as Millard and Ripkowski were often on the field together last year before the injury, but it very well could be Ripkowski who is the second option before long.
Here’s a full schedule for the “State of the Sooners” series:

Wednesday, 9 a.m..: Special teams
Wednesday, noon.: Defensive backs
Wednesday, 3 p.m.: Linebackers
Thursday, 9 a.m.: Defensive linemen
Thursday, noon: Offensive linemen
Thursday, 3 p.m.: Tight ends
Friday, 9 a.m.: Wide receivers
Friday, noon: Running backs
Friday, 3 p.m.: Quarterbacks


by Ryan Aber
Reporter
Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The...
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