He’s been productive in the offense for the last three years, but outside of a 24-carry, 157-yard performance last season against Iowa State, never been the featured back. He was always more of a third-down back because of his ability to catch.
But the offense changed this season with the addition of the quarterback-run threat. The blocking scheme shifted as well.
It requires running backs to run with pace. Patience to wait for holes to develop is required, and the vision to hit them when they do is essential.
“Brennan has been hot in seeing the right spaces I guess and feeling the right spaces and jumping in them and waiting for them to open,” OU coach Bob Stoops said.
Mentally, Clay believes he’s always had that ability. It’s the physical part that has changed. He’s dealt with injuries throughout his career. Shoulders, knees, ankles, even a neck injury. They all slowed him down at one point or another.
“I knew the whole time, it was just a matter of time of being able to get on that field and be 100 percent healthy, no nicks or nags on my body,” he said. “I just feel comfortable out there.”
But that will change. A running back’s health is like a temperature gauge: the meter drops throughout the season. Running backs take hits in every game and most practices. Every one of them exacts a toll.
Clay is prepared for that. It’s his senior year and with that experience comes the knowledge that pace is everything in football.
The way OU is moving fits him perfectly.
“I think it was just a matter of time of getting back on that field and being able to take a couple of carries and get in the groove and actually feeling out the defense,” Clay said. “I think with time, that kind of slowed the pace down mentally in my game. It’s all coming together now.”
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