The Oklahoma Sooners are coming into the 2014 season with high expectations after a strong showing in the AllState Sugar Bowl to close out the 2013 season. But if Bob Stoops hopes to capitalize on his team’s monstrous momentum this fall, he’s going to need to find some fresh faces to step up in key positions. The biggest question mark may be at running back where the pressure is on sophomore Keith Ford to step up as a leader.
Last season, Ford finished fourth on the team among running backs with 23 carries for 134 yards and a touchdown. He was stuck behind the senior trio of Brennan Clay, Damien Williams, and Roy Finch who combined to rush for 1,857 yards and score 13 touchdowns. They were instrumental in keeping the Sooner offense on track as the quarterback situation was hammered out.
But now the quarterback situation has been resolved and the spotlight lands on Ford to step up in the running game. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound Ford showed plenty of promise as a freshman, averaging 5.83 yards per carry in 2013. If not for some fumbling issues last season, Ford likely would have had a bigger role in the running game. This season, he’s the only running back with more than 20 career carries to his name, so he’ll get plenty of opportunities to prove himself.
If he should struggle, the Sooners have some young, talented backs waiting in the wings chomping at the bit to show what they can do. Alex Ross is a big-bodied former track star who will be getting a much bigger role in 2014 as a redshirt sophomore. Joining the pair on campus this fall will be highly touted incoming freshman Joe Mixon.
For now, Ford has the advantage thanks to his experience but that will only keep his fellow backs on the sideline for so long if he fails to produce or puts the ball on the ground this fall. Ford has the opportunity to be a big part of a special season at Oklahoma in 2014. Can he seize the opportunity and hold on?
The Oklahoma football schedule features games against Tulsa, Tennessee, Texas and Oklahoma State this season. The Sooners begin their season on August 30 when they play the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at the Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, OK. The Sooners will look to have another terrific season after going 11-2 and 7-2 in Big 12 games last season.