NORMAN — Talking about Trey Millard the other day, Bob Stoops got giddy.
Now, I'm not sure if you've noticed or not, but Stoops isn't exactly the giddy type.
Still, when the topic of Millard came up, the Oklahoma coach became animated and cheery and down right peppy.
“He's ‘The Slash',” he said of his junior fullback/tight end/H-back/jack of all trades. “I don't know how he remembers it all, but he does.”
But wait, there's more.
(Told ya Stoops was kind of fired up.)
“The new guys, Mike (Stoops) and Tim Kish, have made statements on more than one occasion that he may be the best player on the team.”
Hey, here's a thought — why not use him?
And listen, I'm not talking about getting Millard on the field; he's already playing a lot of snaps for the Sooners, as we're sure to see Saturday during the spring game. I'm talking about putting the ball in his hands more. I'm talking about giving him more than two or three touches a game like last season.
I'm talking about using him.
Last fall, he was the most underutilized weapon in college football.
Millard gobbled up 7.0 yards every time he ran the football for the Sooners. That was the highest average among the OU backs.
The next highest mark was 5.5 yards per carry by Dom Whaley and Roy Finch.
But the thing is, Millard only carried the ball 24 times last season. That's less than two rushes per game, and by my count, that's about six or eight too few.
Why not hand off the ball to him at least eight or 10 times a game?
There's talk that the Sooners plan to use him more this season — Landry Jones and Cale Gundy has said so — but it's still a little hard to believe when they didn't use Millard more last season.
The run game, after all, was anemic. OU rushed for 200-plus yards only four times last season, and it did so against Tulsa, Ball State, Kansas and Iowa State. Not exactly a quality quartet.
In the Sooners' other nine games, they averaged less than 130 yards rushing a game.
But really, the struggles can be summed up in one word — Belldozer.
No doubt, there were lots of reasons that the power running formation gained favor in short-yardage, goal-line situations. The passing game was struggling without Ryan Broyles. The guy doing the dozing was pretty darn good. But more than anything, the Sooners' run-game struggles were the main bugaboo.
If the tailbacks could've been counted on to score, they would've been given that opportunity.
There was no such certainty.
You suppose if Jones would've taken the snap and handed off to Millard, he might've been able to power it in a time or two?
I'm guessing so.
Millard, of course, was a big part of that Belldozer package, but his role was as a blocker. He is a great blocker, and the Sooners want to put that talent to use.
I get that.
But what if he's an even better ball carrier?
Isn't the point of the offense to move the ball down the field and score points? What if Millard could help the Sooners more by running the football than by blocking for guys who do?
Here's an interesting factoid brought up by our man Jason Kersey: there's a guy in the NFL who weighs about the same as Millard and runs a similar 40-yard dash time. About the only difference in the two is that Millard is three or four inches taller.
All he's done lately is rush for 1,300-plus yards three of the past four seasons for the Atlanta Falcons.
Maybe Millard isn't a feature back for the Sooners. Then again, would that be such a crazy idea?
Everyone says that Dom Whaley's busted ankle is healing and improving, but we really don't know. And because he's still sidelined this spring, we won't know for sure until the fall.
If he isn't full speed, Millard would be a great alternative.
But even if he is full speed, imagine the one-two punch of Whaley and Millard. Both can run you over or run by you. (Remember when Millard upended that Missouri defender? That highlight might be second only to his breakaway 61-yard touchdown against Kansas State.)
Line up Whaley and Millard side by side in the backfield, and watch the defenders shake in their shoes.
Bob Stoops is right to be excited about Trey Millard. Here's guessing if Stoops and Co. used him more, Sooner Nation would be giddy, too.