Hate to piss in your cornflakes on the heels of a typical Saturday night blowout win in Norman, Sooner fans, but it’s time to face the facts: Oklahoma’s running game still bites.
Obscured by the aerial pyrotechnics of quarterback Landry Jones in OU’s 43-10 win over Colorado on Saturday night was a paltry average of 3.3 yards per carry. Considering Colorado was giving up 4.6 yards per attempt prior to the OU game, that’s pretty poor.
As usual, OU not only failed to move the ball consistently on the ground, it failed to generate any true explosives plays. The longest run of the night was a 16-yard gallop by DeMarco Murray.
Cue Joe Tessitore or Carter Blackburn chiming in with “OU treats swing passes and screens as part of the running game.” I guess, but I take that more as a sign of just how little Kevin Wilson and Co. respect the Sooners’ ability to run the ball. Merely replacing yards gained through rushing with yards gained through the air doesn’t replace the impact of an effective rushing attack on a game.
All those throws on first down introduce an increasing number of opportunities for killer interceptions and incompletions that make down and distance more difficult to manage. Defensive lines aren’t getting worn down as the game progresses. Opponents can back off the line of scrimmage and devote more defenders to stopping the pass. Controlling the clock becomes tougher.
Most importantly, a good running game is portable – teams that run well can win on the road and at home. It makes the game simpler for an offense in hostile territory.
Looking back at this season and the last, I don’t think it’s any coincidence that OU’s struggles on the road have coincided with the Sooners’ inability to get anything going on the round.
All those points and passing records definitely look pretty, and against the Colorados of the world, teams can get by with a pass-happy offense. Until OU can start running the ball consistently, the Sooners can forget about winning the Big 12. Hell, they can probably forget about winning the South division.