COLUMN: Sooners cannot just rely on the passing game against Texas
Evin Morrison, The Oklahoma Daily
If I’ve learned anything from Sooner fans since 2009, it’s that No. 13 OU lives or dies with senior quarterback Landry Jones.
After defeating Texas Tech, 41-20, OU fans live because of him. After losing to Kansas State, 24-19, they die because of him.
What a vicious circle.
Maybe there’s another party on offense who should receive more credit — or blame — than it currently does: the running game.
In four games, the Sooners (3-1, 1-1 Big 12) averaged 190.5 rushing yards per game — 137.7 rushing yards per game when excluding FCS-opponent Florida A&M — which is good for the 36th-best rushing attack in the nation.
In OU’s only loss, the running game produced just 92 yards, which is a somewhat skewed number considering the Sooners had to abandon the running game and throw the ball to play catch-up in the fourth quarter.
In the three victories, Oklahoma averaged 225 rushing yards per game with the lowest game total being 121 rushing yards against Texas Tech on Saturday.
Many factors go into these numbers — the opponent’s quality, the banged up offensive line, how the game is going or which running back is in the game — but they tell everyone one main thing: When OU runs the ball effectively, it wins.
The same has to be true if the Sooners want to defeat No. 15 Texas this weekend in Dallas.
The Longhorns (4-1, 1-1 Big 12) have allowed 182.4 rushing yards per game, meaning the Sooners could do something they have done only once since the 2007 Red River Rivalry Game: rush for at least 100 yards.
Since 2007, OU has averaged 60.5 rushing yards per Texas game, including one game in which it totaled -16 yards on the ground.
Although these numbers point toward the need to attack through the air, don’t be deceived.
OU needs to be able to run the ball simply because it becomes too easy to defend and too easy to beat if opponents force Jones to be the primary playmaker.
Kansas State took that approach, and look how that game ended.
Senior running back Dominique Whaley — who rushed for 83 yards in last year’s game against Texas — and junior running back Damien Williams need to be productive just to take off some pressure from Jones.
The Longhorns have scored at least 37 points in each game this season, so the two, along with junior fullback Trey Millard, need to help control the clock, gain some yards and put some points on the board if the Sooners want to be able to contain or keep up with Texas’ stout offense.
If they don’t, and Jones has to win this game on his own, then winning a third straight Red River Rivalry game is going to be a much harder feat to accomplish.
Jono Greco is a journalism graduate student and the copy chief for The Daily.