DALLAS — Entertainers know when they have an audience in their hands.
DeMarco Murray had 96,009 people in his hands with 12:54 remaining. The senior from Las Vegas took a simple run and turned it into a solo dance routine. On his way to a 20-yard touchdown, Murray tip-toed along the sideline, carefully not stepping out of bounds. All at once he silenced half of the Cotton Bowl while sending the other half into hysterics.
The score ended up being the difference in a 28-20 Oklahoma victory over Red River rival Texas on Saturday. But it was just another play Murray can add to his growing list of spectacular moments.
“He just goes out there and he performs,” OU tackle Eric Mensik said. “He’s a performer and he knows how to do it. And he does it really well. I am glad that he is on our team. I really am.”
Murray ended his final game against the Longhorns with 115 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. He also collected four receptions for 31 yards, coming up with numerous big plays that kept the Sooners moving.
“That’s something we expect out of DeMarco,” freshman Kenny Stills said. “We know he’s going to come out and play as hard as he can. Just because he had a down week last week, that doesn’t mean he isn’t going to come out this week and play as hard as he can.”
While his teammates have no problem talking about Murray’s stellar performance, he’d rather discuss how his night would not have been possible without the offensive line.
“I thought that the O-line did a great job,” Murray said. “Blocking all day for me and Mossis (Madu). We watched a lot of film on these guys. We knew we had to run the ball. We knew if we get to the secondary, then Mossis and I could create some plays.”
For much of the week leading up to the game, the talk was that Murray would have to have a good game if the Sooners were going to get past Texas. The past two seasons, the Longhorns made the Sooners one dimensional.
Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson decided to put the game on the shoulders of Murray and the men up front.
“We practiced hard all week long,” Mensik said. “We focused on the run game and the stats that the coaches were showing us. The last 10 years, the team who ran the ball and was able to protect the ball, won the game. And the same was true today.”
Murray is now ninth on the Sooners’ all-time rushing list with 3,022 yards and tied for third with 44 career rushing touchdowns.
Murray was more impressed with the trust the coaching staff had in him to get the job done. Even when it looked like Texas had his number, the coaches kept turning to him.
“It was great,” Murray said. “Coach Wilson trusted us with a run game. He told us we’re going to run the ball and we’re going to do it well. That’s how it is. There is a one-yard, two-yard gain. A three-yard or four-yard gain. Then, the next thing you know, there is a 20-25 yard gain.”
Even though this is Still’s first season and wasn’t around when Murray ran for 128 against the Longhorns in 2007, he has seen all of his teammates’ games. After Saturday’s outing, he said there is no comparison.
“I’ve watched plenty of tape on DeMarco for the last few years,” Stills said. “That is as good as he has ever looked. He went out there and took care of business.”
Michael Kinney 366-3537 email@example.com