Oklahoma Sooners: Dominique Whaley

Position breakdown: Running back 

February, 13, 2013
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NORMAN, Okla. -- One area where the Sooners will suffer little attrition from 2012 is running back. Yes, Dominique Whaley has graduated, but Whaley didn’t contribute to the backfield after the first three games as he struggled to regain his agility from a broken ankle he suffered in 2011.

The rest of the backfield returns intact, and that includes Damien Williams. The former juco transfer had a breakout first season in Norman, leading the Sooners with 946 rushing yards while scoring 11 touchdowns and averaging 5.4 yards per carry. Williams would have easily surpassed the 1,000-yard barrier had an ankle sprain not slowed him in November.

[+] EnlargeDamien Williams
Brandon Wade/Getty ImagesDamien Williams ran for nearly 1,000 yards in his first season at Oklahoma and will combine with Brennan Clay for much of OU's rushing production.
Williams gives the Sooners one of the top returning backs in the league. OU also returns Brennan Clay, who proved to be a solid No. 2 back during his junior season. Filling in for Williams at Iowa State, Clay rushed for 157 yards while averaging 6.5 yards a carry. Clay also scored the game-winning overtime touchdown against Oklahoma State.

2012 review: Improvement, regression 

January, 8, 2013
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For the second straight year, Oklahoma finished the season with a 10-3 record. Both seasons featured disappointments late in the season (Oklahoma State in 2011, Texas A&M in 2012) yet the Sooners were in the Big 12 championship mix heading into the final game of the regular season each season. OU saw some improvements in 2012, but they were joined by some clear steps backward. Here’s a look at how the Sooners improved, how they regressed and how they maintained in 2012.

Improved

[+] EnlargeJalen Saunders
William Purnell/Icon SMIJalen Saunders was one of four explosive receivers that Landry Jones had at his disposal this season.
• Passing game

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Top 5 moments: Clay's overtime scamper

December, 12, 2012
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Brennan ClayAP Photo/Sue OgrockiBrennan Clay's overtime touchdown run vs. Oklahoma State won the game for the Sooners.
SoonerNation is counting down the top five moments of Oklahoma’s 2012 season this week.

Play No. 3

Few Sooners have been passed over on the depth chart more than Brennan Clay. In 2010, Clay was supplanted in the rotation by Roy Finch, after Finch returned from a foot injury. In 2011, Clay started the opener but was eventually replaced in the starting lineup by walk-on phenom Dominique Whaley. This season, junior-college transfer Damien Williams quickly took carries away from Clay on his way to winning the starting job.

But late this season, Clay’s patience finally paid off. After Williams was injured at the end of the Notre Dame loss, Clay got the nod at Iowa State. Clay made the most of 24 carries, rushing for 157 yards and a touchdown in the best performance of his career.

His shining moment, however, came three weeks later. After trailing Oklahoma State the entire game, the Sooners finally had a chance to win after the Pokes settled for a field goal in the first possession of overtime.

Trey Millard took the opening salvo seven yards. Then, riding the hot hand, offensive coordinator Josh Heupel called Clay’s number on a trap play. Clay maneuvered his way through the Cowboys' front line, spun out of Daytawion Lowe’s attempted tackle, then escaped Shamiel Gary's diving attempt at the ankles before lunging into the end zone.

Clay was mobbed by teammates in the end zone, and the Owen Field crowd hung around for several minutes to celebrate the Bedlam victory with the team.

The O-line did a great job getting blocks; shout-out to Gabe Ikard and Bronson [Irwin] and Adam [Shead],” Clay said afterward. “They hit their guy and parted the way and I was able to hit the hole and made a few guys miss and get the end zone.

“Being able to break a long one and being able to score the game-winning touchdown, it's really blessed me."

OU position grades: Running backs 

December, 5, 2012
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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.

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OU position grades: Quarterbacks 

December, 4, 2012
12/04/12
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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: In hard-fought wins over West Virginia and Oklahoma State, Landry Jones was never better. He threw for 500 yards in both games, and led the Sooners on come-from-behind, fourth-quarter touchdown drives. The TD pass in the final seconds to Kenny Stills -- in which Jones called an audible from a fade to a slant -- proved to be the game-winner over the Mountaineers. The following week, Jones quarterbacked the Sooners to another fourth-quarter touchdown drive to send Bedlam to overtime, and OU prevailed. Belldozer QB Blake Bell also had a hand in the comeback, powering through the OSU defensive front for the tying TD on fourth down with just a couple of seconds remaining.

Lowlights: Some OU fans were calling for Jones to be benched after the Kansas State loss. Jones’ two turnovers were turned into Kansas State points, including a fumble recovered in the end zone for a K-State TD. Bell also struggled, fumbling away a golden scoring opportunity inside the Wildcats’ 5-yard line.

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Roundtable: Who will lead OU in rushing? 

November, 8, 2012
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Every Thursday during the season, the SoonerNation staff will answer a roundtable question about OU football. Leave a comment or talk about it in our "There's Only One" forum.

Today's question: Who will lead OU in rushing the last four regular-season games?


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3 Up, 3 Down: Oklahoma 35, Iowa State 20 

November, 4, 2012
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Who was up and who was down after Oklahoma’s 35-20 win at Iowa State:

THREE UP

1. RB Brennan Clay. The junior from California had the game of his career, rushing for a career-high 157 yards on 24 carries. With Damien Williams ailing with an ankle injury, Clay could play a huge role for the Sooners down the stretch.

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Staff picks: Oklahoma vs. Iowa State 

November, 2, 2012
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Oklahoma 23, Iowa State 14
The Cyclones are tough as nails in Ames, as Oklahoma State found out last season. This is a tough spot for the Sooners coming off such a disappointing loss to Notre Dame. I don't think they play well. But well enough to come away with a win.
- Jake Trotter

Oklahoma 30, Iowa State 14

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Oklahoma looks to rebound from its second loss of the season when it (5-2) travels to Ames, Iowa, to take on Iowa State at 11 a.m. CT on Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium. Here are five storylines to keep an eye on:

1. How will the Sooners respond to being out of the national title picture?

OU responded extremely well to its first loss of the season, a 24-19 defeat at the hands of Kansas State on Sept. 22. Following that disappointment, the Sooners blew out Texas Tech, Texas and Kansas before last Saturday’s loss to Notre Dame.

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Staff picks: Notre Dame vs. Oklahoma 

October, 26, 2012
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Oklahoma 24, Notre Dame 12
The Sooners are playing their best ball of the season, and at the perfect time. The Irish will give OU problems in the trenches, but OU's passing game with Landry Jones and his array of receivers will be the difference. If the Sooners can get to 20 points, it will be difficult for an average Notre Dame offense to keep pace, especially with the way the Sooners have been dominating defensively. I don't think the Irish get there, and that's why I'm picking OU to win.
- Jake Trotter

Oklahoma 31, Notre Dame 21

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Oklahoma awards tracker: Week 8

October, 23, 2012
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QB Landry Jones, Sr: Walter Camp, Manning, Maxwell
For the third straight game, Jones played like an elite quarterback going 19-of-28 for 291 yards and 3 touchdowns. He has 1 interception in the past three games.
Season stats: 133-of-212 for 1,644 yards, 12 TD, 3 INT

RB Dominique Whaley, Sr: Maxwell
The Sooners ran the ball 18 times against Kansas but Whaley didn’t touch the football.
Season stats: 38 carries for 241 yards, TD

WR Kenny Stills, Jr: Walter Camp, Maxwell
Stills set the tone with a 44-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter against Kansas. With the addition of Jalen Saunders, he has moved outside at times to provide an explosive option for Jones.
Season stats: 38 receptions for 471 yards, 4 TDs

LB Tom Wort, Jr: Butkus, Nagurski
For the second straight week, Wort forced a fumble. He finished second on the team with 7 tackles, including 2 tackles for loss and 1 sack against the Jayhawks.
Season stats: 26 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 2 forced fumbles, 1 sack, 1 pass defensed

LB Corey Nelson, Jr: Lombardi
Nelson had 4 tackles against the Jayhawks.
Season stats: 23 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 1 sack, 2 pass breakup, 2 quarterback hurries

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Oklahoma Awards Tracker: Week 7

October, 16, 2012
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QB Landry Jones, Sr: Walter Camp, Manning, Maxwell
Jones made one glaring mistake with an interception returned for a touchdown but was superb with his other 36 throws. He finished 21-of-37 for 321 yards and two touchdowns.
Season stats: 114-of-184 for 1,353 yards, 9 TD, 3 INT

RB Dominique Whaley, Sr: Maxwell
Whaley showed he still can be productive despite losing his starting running back position. He had six carries for 51 yards against Texas.
Season stats: 38 carries for 241 yards, TD

WR Kenny Stills, Jr: Walter Camp, Maxwell
Stills had three catches for 37 yards against Texas, and his downfield block to spring Damien Williams on his 95-yard touchdown was one of the highlights of the win.
Season stats: 32 receptions for 381 yards, 3 TDs

LB Tom Wort, Jr: Butkus, Nagurski
Wort played well against the Longhorns with two tackles and a forced fumble.
Season stats: 19 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1 forced fumble, 1 pass defensed

LB Corey Nelson, Jr: Lombardi
Nelson quietly had his most productive game of the season against UT. He finished with two tackles, two tackles for loss, one pass breakup and one quarterback hurry.
Season stats: 19 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 1 sack, 2 pass breakup, 2 quarterback hurries

C Gabe Ikard, Jr: Lombardi, Outland
People wondered if the Sooners could protect Landry Jones or run the football against the Longhorns. OU did both with 343 rushing yards and 334 passing yards in a eye-popping 677-yard performance.
Season stats: OU is averaging 43.2 points and 506.4 yards through five games this season behind its offensive front.

S Tony Jefferson, Jr: Walter Camp, Nagurski, Bednarik, Thorpe
For the second straight season, Jefferson had an interception against the Longhorns. He added seven tackles and two tackles for loss in the blowout win.
Season stats: 37 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 INT, 1 pass break-up

CB Demontre Hurst, Sr: Nagurski, Bednarik
Hurst ended his Red River Rivalry career with four tackles and one fumble recovery.
Season stats: 18 tackles, 2 pass breakups, 1 fumble recovery

PK Michael Hunnicutt, So: Groza
Hunnicutt hit field goals of 36 and 32 yards and was 7-of-8 on extra point attempts. He also recorded touchbacks on 5 of 11 kickoffs.
Season stats: 7-of-8 field goals, 25-of-27 points after touchdown, 46 points scored

Staff predictions: Texas vs. Oklahoma 

October, 12, 2012
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Oklahoma 31, Texas 30
To pick the Sooners in this game, you have to believe they turned a corner in Lubbock. I do. Landry Jones had his best game in the post-Ryan Broyles era, and several young players such as Frank Shannon, Sterling Shepard and Aaron Franklin continue to emerge. This one will be close. But I think the Sooners will make the extra one or two plays to come out of the Cotton Bowl with a victory.
- Jake Trotter

Oklahoma 35, Texas 28

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Oklahoma Awards Tracker: Week 6

October, 9, 2012
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QB Landry Jones, Sr: Walter Camp, Manning, Maxwell
Jones played one of the best games of his career as he threw two touchdowns with zero turnovers in a 41-20 win over Texas Tech.
Season stats: 93 of 147 for 1,032 yards, 7 TD, 2 INT

RB Dominique Whaley, Sr: Maxwell
Relegated to a backup role, Whaley had two carries for 22 yards against Texas Tech.
Season stats: 32 carries for 190 yards, 1 TD

WR Kenny Stills, Jr: Walter Camp, Maxwell
Stills continues to be a dynamic threat for the Sooners. He had seven receptions for 43 yards and one touchdown against the Red Raiders.
Season stats: 29 receptions for 344 yards, 3 TDs

LB Tom Wort, Jr: Butkus, Nagurski
Playing a limited role against Texas Tech’s spread attack, Wort had just one tackle against the Red Raiders.
Season stats: 17 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1 pass defensed

LB Corey Nelson, Jr: Lombardi
Nelson had a solid game against the Red Raiders, finishing tied for the team high with six tackles and one sack.
Season stats: 17 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1 sack, 1 pass breakup, 1 pass defensed, 1 quarterback hurry

C Gabe Ikard, Jr: Lombardi, Outland
Anchored by Ikard, the offensive line was the foundation of OU’s 380 total yards on offense. They didn’t allow a sack and were a big reason the Sooners converted 8 of 14 third-down attempts.
Season stats: OU is averaging 38.2 points and 463.8 yards through four games this season behind its offensive front.

S Tony Jefferson, Jr: Walter Camp, Nagurski, Bednarik, Thorpe
Jefferson quietly had a terrific game with five tackles but, more importantly, the OU secondary didn’t give up a big play.
Season stats: 30 tackles, 0.5 TFL, 1 pass breakup

CB Demontre Hurst, Sr: Nagurski, Bednarik
Hurst was superb in coverage as the Sooners didn’t allow a game-changing play through the air against Texas Tech.
Season stats: 14 tackles, 2 pass breakups

PK Michael Hunnicutt, So: Groza
Hunnicutt hit field goals of 33 and 42 yards and was 5 of 5 on extra point attempts.
Season stats: 5-of-6 field goals, 18-of-19 points after touchdown, 33 points scored
When Damien Williams signed with Oklahoma last February, he did so with little fanfare. A transfer from Arizona Western, Williams was considered a quality running back who could help provide depth in a Sooners backfield that featured Roy Finch, Brennan Clay and a soon-to-be healthy Dominique Whaley.

[+] EnlargeDamien Williams
Jerod Foster/Icon SMIDamien Williams took the majority of the snaps at tailback for the Sooners on Saturday.
While many people in this region didn’t understand what Williams was capable of, the Cali Trio -- OU’s three juniors from California comprised of Clay, receiver Kenny Stills and safety Tony Jefferson -- had high expectations.

“I expected a lot from him when he got here, he’s a San Diego cat so you know he got skills,” Jefferson said. “I feel like he’ll play an important role in our offense this year.”

Said Stills: “We all heard about each other when we were growing up through scouting. I knew he was gonna help us in the run game.”

Even Clay, who battles Williams for playing time at running back, believed the junior college transfer could make this type of impact.

“Damian Williams played for my rival [in high school],” Clay said. “He can play, I know he can ball out. Him and I went at it [in high school]. Him and I are great competition, we’re going to feed off each other.”

Four games into the season, Williams is making the Cali Trio look prophetic while proving to be the Sooners' most complete and explosive running back.

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