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Wednesday, December 5, 2012
OU position grades: Running backs

By Jake Trotter

In the weeks leading up to the AT&T Cotton Bowl, SoonerNation will take a look back at how the Sooners performed position by position and give each group a grade based on that performance. Today, we look at the quarterback position:

GradeHighlights: Junior-college transfer Damien Williams shredded Texas in the Cotton Bowl, rushing for a season-high 167 yards on 22 carries. Williams’ 95-yard touchdown early in the game not only put the Horns away, but was the longest OU TD run in Red River Rivalry history. Brennan Clay added 59 yards, Dominique Whaley chipped in with 51, and Trey Millard rumbled for 45 yards on three carries. The Texas front lines were powerless to stop them.

Lowlights: An ineffective running game doomed the Sooners in the home loss to Kansas State early in the season. Williams and Whaley combined for just 85 yards on the ground, as the OU offense sputtered. The K-State defeat was the impetus that had the Sooners move Williams into the starting lineup and the ailing Whaley to the sideline.

Surprises: Clay has been on campus for three years, but had been passed on the depth chart by Finch, then Whaley, then Williams. But after Williams sprained his ankle against Notre Dame, Clay finally got his chance to shine. As the featured back, Clay exploded for a career-high 157 yards on 24 carries and a touchdown in a road win over Iowa State. His first down run at the end of the first half encouraged the Sooners to go for the touchdown, and on back-to-back long completions, they accomplished just that. Clay has been a significant part of the offense ever since.

Grade: B+. When the running backs were effective, they were really effective. But at a couple of inopportune times this season, they did not have a huge impact. Still, running back has been a strength most of the season, and Millard, one of the most valuable players on the entire roster, almost puts this group into “A” range.