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Blogging about college football by an Oklahoma Sooners fan.

2012 Position Review: Running backs

Damien Williams

What did we think/hope would happen?

The RB position would be shared by a healthy Dominique Whaley and newcomer Damien Williams. Brennan Clay would be used primarily in a third-down role. Roy Finch would be used primarily as a slot wide receiver.

If any injuries issues occured, Oklahoma could pull the redshirt off of impressive freshman Alex Ross.

What did happen?

*Starting with the UTEP game and ending with the TCU game, Damien Williams seized the starting RB job all season and only let go during a brief bout with a high ankle sprain that hurt his productivity. Williams' 95 yard touchdown run was arguably the play that supercharged the rout over Texas, and his home run speed and moves gave OU its best RB weapon since Demarco Murray in 2010. Williams easily would have been a thousand-yard rusher save for that injury stretch. In addition, Williams was an excellent weapon out of the backfield all season long.

Brennan clay*Surprisingly, Brennan Clay made for an effective second weapon out of the backfield with nearly 500 yards rushing. He was a clutch RB all November for OU.

*The person who suffered in all this was Whaley. Whaley never seemed fully recovered, and he lost his starting job. Clay's versatility kept Whaley out of the back-up role. He would end up being the seldom-used third RB.

*Like Whaley, Finch's touches also suffered. He never clicked in his role as a slot WR/RB.

What went right?

*OU's running game posted nearly 2,000 yards rushing combined from the RBs. They averaged nearly 5 yards per carry, which was a half yard improvement.

*OU found a real star at RB in Williams. Williams seems on track to be the next Sooner RB drafted into the NFL. His blend of power, moves and speed is reminiscent of Demarco Murray.

*Clay proved to be a perfect complement to Williams. In the ISU game, he showed power and speed not seen before from him in a Sooner uniform. Finally healthy and in great shape, Clay showed the talent that was seen in his high school career.

*Clay and Finch on kickoff returns were deadly. Clay had huge kickoff returns three games in a row that aided OU. Finch had a kickoff return TD as well as other good returns. The return game a real weapon for OU this season; the credit for that goes to Clay and Finch.

What went wrong?

*OU was never able to integrate Roy Finch into the flow of the offense. Finch has explosiveness and big-play potential, but OU's coaches never could come up with a way to use him effectively.

*Whaley's unique story got derailed this year in part by some lingering issues from the ugly ankle injury he suffered in 2011. More so, though, the talent that Damien Williams brought to the position hurt Whaley's standing.

Where do we go from here?

OU ended 2011 with a running back spot that was in disarray – injuries, injuries and transfers. OU ends 2012 with the position in the strongest shape since 2007 when the Sooners returned Chris Brown and Demarco Murray. OU's two primary RBs will return with almost 2,000 yards from scrimmage and an average of nearly 6 yards per carry.

OU will also take the redshirts off of promising RBs Alex Ross and David Smith.

Finally, for his senior year, it would be nice if OU could create a series of plays/formations to use Finch effectively.

(Previous reviews: QB)