The Oklahoma Sooners return plenty of experience behind five starting linemen heading into the Spring Game. With the likes of Orlando Brown anchoring the unit, the running back should find plenty of success on the ground. However, there’s still a major question we’re all asking at this point in time. Gone are the days of Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon holding down the position. Now, fans look toward a young and unproven crop in the backfield.
Abdul Adams found himself picking up carries after Rodney Anderson suffered a season ending injury before playing a snap in 2016. Receiving the call 53 times throughout seven appearances, the sophomore enters the spring as the most experience running back. According to the coaching staff, not only does Adams have the most experience, he’s also been the most consistent in spring practice. He’s certainly one to watch on Saturday.
On the other side of the coin, Anderson has two complete seasons under his belt to learn the system. Now, a redshirt sophomore, the back is looking to compete for the lion’s share of the carries come fall. Strength Coach Jerry Schmidt noted that Anderson remains at the top of the list in every category when it comes to workouts. Clearly the strength and work ethic are present for this kid.
Also competing for snaps is the 5-9 JUCO Transfer, Marcelias Sutton bounced back from an injury and is expected to play in the Spring Game. The shifty back provides a change of pace that Oklahoma should look to utilize in the upcoming season. With the ability to play not only in the backfield but also in the slot, Sutton provides a unique opportunity. In the past OU has been known to keep the pace of the game running high. Without the need to substitute players in and out, Sutton allows the program to continue an up-tempo style of play — much like Trey Millard did in years past.
Last but not least, fans will be able to put Trey Sermon through the eyeball test. The early enrollee was highly touted coming out of high school. Hoping to continue to impress on the collegiate circuit, the freshman must acclimate himself to the speed of the game. A nose-first, physical running style is exactly what many expect the youngster to bring to the table. Able to gain yards after contact, Sermon could be too valuable to keep on the field despite the talent pool.
No matter how much talent this group possesses, the measuring stick remains the same. Knowing the quarterback remains the most important piece to an offense, coaches are undoubtedly looking for a back who can step up in pass protection. Missed assignments and a lack of effort are quick tools to finding a seat on the pine.
Likewise, fumbles could cost dearly not only on the scoreboard but also in terms of playing time. It doesn’t matter how much strength and speed a running back flashes if that same back coughs the ball up more often than not. Of course, this rule applies unless your name is Adrian Peterson!
A nice added bonus would be finding a back who always seems to fall forward. Samaje Perine rarely lost ground even when met in the backfield but an opposing defender. This up and coming group should have the same ability given the reports coming out of camp.
Who makes the biggest impact on the field from the backfield come Saturday? Leave us your predictions in the comments below!