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Where were you when Superman took flight?

by Jenni Carlson Modified: October 4, 2011 at 9:02 am •  Published: October 3, 2011

NORMAN — Roy Williams wasn't supposed to jump.

His coach told him two or three times not to do it. His experience told him that disobeying those orders, especially in the Red River Rivalry, would get him a tongue lashing.

But how is Superman supposed to fly without jumping?

“When we walked on that field ... I already knew in my mind I was leaving my feet,” he said. “Forget what coach said.”

It's been 10 years since the Oklahoma safety defied orders, flying over the Texas line, smacking into Longhorn quarterback Chris Simms and leaping into Sooner lore.

In a series that annually produces a memorable moment — it'll happen this Saturday, just watch — no play has been more iconic than the one that transformed Williams into Superman. A hundred-plus years of OU-Texas has never produced anything else like it.

Williams remembers it well.

Then again, he's reminded of it almost daily.

Holding a precarious 7-3 lead in the 2001 edition of the rivalry, the Sooners were forced to punt with a little over two minutes left in the game. But when return man Nathan Vasher muffed the punt, it pinned the Longhorns at their own 2-yard line.

A media timeout brought the Sooner defense together on the sideline. Co-defensive coordinator Mike Stoops called for a blitz, a look the Sooners had used earlier in the game and a play that didn't end so well for Williams.

“I tried to, not Superman, but jump over the guy,” he said, “But the guy's helmet hit me in the groin. Tore me up.”

He laughed at the memory.

He wasn't laughing then.

Neither was Stoops. As the Sooners huddled, he pulled Williams aside.

“Do not jump,” he told him.

“OK,” Williams replied.

“Do not jump.”


It's a little like telling someone not to think about the color red, isn't it? As soon as you do, that's the only think they're thinking about.

Jumping was all that Williams could think about.

“I knew when we were running that play,” he said, “with our D line, that hole was going to open up.”

He also knew that Texas running back Brett Robin would try to take out his legs.

“He would never try to hit me high because I'll just run him over,” said Williams, who had more than 20 pounds on Robin. “So I knew he was going to go low.”

The Longhorns stepped to the line, and as Simms went through his calls, Teddy Lehman showed blitz, coming to the line. Williams joined him in the gap in front of the left guard for a moment, then backed off.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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