NORMAN — Running between the tackles is not for the weak. Holes open and close in the blink of an eye. It takes a mixture of toughness, power, speed and vision to do it.
Just looking at him, you wouldn’t think it would fit Oklahoma running back Brennan Clay. The 5-foot-11, 200-pound senior doesn’t fit the prototype for a power back.
But he fits.
“Brennan has great vision and timing,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “I think timing so much of the time is maybe talked over too much with running backs. It’s all speed and power. But the timing to allow certain seams to open and feel that timing, I think he has a great sense of it to allow things to happen before he go makes his play.”
He’ll try to do those things again when the 18th-ranked Sooners (9-2, 6-2 Big 12) face No. 6 Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1) Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater.
Winning the game could very well depend on it.
Obviously, the switch to Trevor Knight at quarterback has done wonders for the Sooners’ offense. It has averaged 8.2 yards per carry over the last six quarters in wins over Iowa State and Kansas State.
Knight ran the ball well in both games. He’s averaging 8.75 yards per tote since being re-inserted at quarterback. But the workhorse has been Clay. He rushed for 200 yards on 31 carries against Kansas State and that was after piling up 87 yards on just seven carries against the Cyclones.
The switch to the zone-read offense has truly benefited him as much as the Sooners. The quarterback-run element is a big part, but an effective downhill runner is required for it to truly work.
At first glance, Clay might not pass the eye test, but the results speak for themselves.