Running Game More Important than Ever for Oklahoma Sooners

By Tyler Brett
damien williams
John Rieger – USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma Sooners had to regroup after getting blown off the field in the Red River Rivalry a few weeks ago by the Texas Longhorns. It seemed to take them a little longer than anticipated as the Sooners fell behind the Kansas Jayhawks 13-0 last Saturday before waking up and righting the ship. The missing ingredient in the Texas loss and the slow start against Kansas was the Oklahoma running game. The Sooners got back to basics and pounded the rock to get the win against the Jayhawks and they’ll need to rely on the run even more with some shootouts on the horizon.

This week, Oklahoma welcomes the 7-0 Texas Tech Red Raiders to Norman. Kliff Kingsbury has his team playing at an incredible level and boasts the No. 2 passing attack in college football, despite starting two separate freshman quarterbacks under center, with one of the fastest paced offenses in the country. They’ve run more plays than anyone in the Big 12 this season, averaging just over 88 offensive snaps per game, and have used that to push the pace against their opponents and currently rank as the No. 2 offense in the Big 12 in both total yards and scoring per game.

The week after that, Oklahoma travels to Waco to take on the Baylor Bears who have been rolling offensively this season. They rank No. 1 in the country in both total offense and scoring offense, averaging over 700 yards and 64 points per game. They’re as quick-strike as they come offensively with gamebreakers at running back and receiver that can blow the top off a defense with a home-run shot. Through six games, they’re averaging 79 plays per game and averaging 9.03 yards per snap.

Both teams utilize a fast pace to put their opponents at a disadvantage before blowing them off the field. Oklahoma can’t get into a shootout with either team as they just don’t have the explosive plays to keep up, particularly in the passing game. Add in the injuries that Oklahoma has suffered this season on the defensive side of the ball and you see the Sooners just can’t match up toe-to-toe with these high-octane offensive attacks.

That will put the pressure on the running game to sustain drives, eat up clock and keep those high-powered offenses on the sideline. Blake Bell, as much as he wants to be a drop-back passer, is at his best when running the football and the running back tandem of Brennan Clay and Damien Williams might be the best in the Big 12 this season. The Sooners rank No. 2 in the Big 12 this season in running the football, averaging 227.86 yards per game and will need even more over the next two contests.

Churning out tough yards between the tackles, making positive plays that keep the clock moving and finishing drives strong with points on the board are going to be the key for Oklahoma to come out on top in this tough two-week stretch. To get that done, they’ll need to trust in their running game more than ever.

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