Redshirt sophomore running back Kennedy Brooks never knows going into a game how much he’s going to contribute to head coach Lincoln Riley’s offense.
In Oklahoma’s 48-41 loss to Kansas State back two weeks ago, Brooks’ contribution was three rushes for two yards, after getting 10 attempts each of the two games before that. Junior running back Trey Sermon ran three times for nine yards. For Senior quarterback Jalen Hurts, it meant 19 attempts for 96 yards against the Wildcats.
In No. 9 Oklahoma’s (8-1, 5-1 Big 12) 42-41 win over Iowa State (5-4, 3-3 Big 12) Saturday night, Brooks’ input was 132 rushing yards on 15 carries and a touchdown. The first three plays of the game were rushing attempts from Brooks, which already matched his total against Kansas State. It was the first time in three games a Sooner not named Jalen Hurts was the team’s leading rusher.
“I go in with a mindset of doing anything to help the team. That’s all,” Brooks said. “Whoever is the leading rusher it doesn’t matter, as long as we get the dub.”
Still, Hurts had the majority of the carries with 22, finishing with 68 yards and two touchdowns. He’s had the most carries in every game thus far, rushing 125 times in Oklahoma’s 327 team attempts total on the season. Brooks’ amount of touches have been up and down, as seen by his 10 against West Virginia, three against Kansas State and 15 against Iowa State Saturday night.
But it’s obvious Riley’s play-calling has veered away from his running backs, and Sermon is proof. Sermon’s contribution this season went from 11 attempts for 71 yards against Kansas to zero touches in Oklahoma’s 34-27 win over Texas a week later. In the three games since then, he’s had just nine carries.
Through nine games in 2018, Sermon averaged 12.8 attempts per game, racking up 739 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. Through his eight games played this season — not counting his outlier Texas game — Sermon has 371 total yards without even breaking 11 attempts yet.
Sermon’s first and only carry Saturday night didn’t come until the latter half of the second quarter Saturday. He gained 14-yards before leaving the game holding onto his left knee as he visited the medical tent on the sideline with tears in his eyes.
“He’s my brother,” Brooks said. “He’s family. It was hard for me just to see him go down like. I’m going to talk to him later today and just keep praying for him and hope he gets better.”
Brooks’ 15 carries is the most in a game by any Sooner running back this season. He now averages 8.5 rush attempts per game, and has tallied 515 rushing yards this season — a 64.4 average. Last season, Brooks averaged 10.3 attempts and 101.4 rushing yards through the eight-game mark.
Saturday night’s match proved it was a step in the right direction for Oklahoma’s run game.
“It was good to get him going,” Riley said. “I thought we took some strides in the run game, thought he played extremely well.”