Sooners boast young, crowded backfield
July, 26, 2011
By Jeff Caplan | ESPNDallas.com
DALLAS -- Oklahoma star running back DeMarco Murray is now the property of the Dallas Cowboys. If the Sooners are going to be as good as most think they will, and that means competing for the national title, they'll need to plug that hole quickly.
OU coach Bob Stoops said he's not worried. To the contrary, he said he's excited about his options.
"Because," Stoops said, "there's a lot of potential in that backfield with those running backs."
Those running backs constitute a group of five.
Brennan Clay, a 5-foot-11, 194-pound sophomore out of San Diego, and Jonathan Miller, a 6-foot, 199-pound sophomore from Garland, Texas, are listed as the top two contenders for the starting job. However, sophomore Roy Finch (5-7, 166) out of Florida and two Texas rushers, junior Jermie Calhoun (6-0, 214) and freshman Brandon Williams, are in the mix to replace Murray's 1,214 rushing yards, 594 passing yards and 20 touchdowns from last season.
Stoops said he'll utilize a backfield by committee and let the hot hand emerge.
"I don't see any of these guys have the physical presence at this point and maturity to play 45, 50 snaps like DeMarco could. So, we'll divide it up," Stoops said. "I think it will benefit all of them being able to divide them up some. You think back to the year 2008 with [quarterback] Sam Bradford, the year he wins the Heisman Trophy and we play in the national championship game; that year we had two 1,000-yard rushers."
That year, Murray rushed for 1,002 yards and Chris Brown chewed up 1,220. They duo combined for 34 touchdowns.
Junior quarterback Landry Jones can only hope he's as fortunate as his predecessor. If he is, it could mean the Sooners get back to the national title game.
However, none of the five has extensive experience. Finch was OU's second-leading rusher last season with 398 yards on 85 carries. Clay had 127 yards on 36 carries, and Calhoun rushed 11 times for 22 yards. Miller injured his knee and redshirted after rushing for 130 yards on 18 carries in 2009.
"To me, we have guys," Stoops said. "If the guys up front do their job, they'll get through the hole and make something happen. So, I feel good about it."