Before the Sooners' 31-14 win over Iowa in the Insight Bowl, Jake Trotter and Brandon Chatmon analyzed each Oklahoma position group. Now, the SoonerNation staff is giving each position a grade for its performance in 2011.
No group experienced as much turmoil over the course of the season as the running backs did. Jonathon Miller and Jermie Calhoun transferred early in the year, Brennan Clay was hampered by injuries most of the season, and starter Dominique Whaley suffered a season-ending ankle injury. Still, this was a unit that managed to perform to expectations as a whole. Whaley was spectacular the first half of the season, then Roy Finch carried the load late. The grade probably would have been lower had it not been for all-conference fullback Trey Millard and Belldozer specialist Aaron Ripkowski, who were both solid all season.
- Jake Trotter
For a group that began the season with so much talent to go without a rusher over 700 yards was a bit disappointing but both Finch and Whaley likely would have been 1,000 yard rushers with a full season of carries. Whaley seized the job and became the man before his injury against Kansas State. The walk-on was dependable and consistent during his seven games. Finch was the Sooners' most dynamic running back but struggled to get comfortable with his assignments and become the complete back OU fans were hoping to see. Overall, OU’s struggles to run the ball at times knocks this grade down to a B.
- Brandon Chatmon
The emergence of Dominique Whaley had this group clearly moving into the ‘A’ territory. But after Whaley broke his ankle, the running game stalled. OU found ways to use Roy Finch in a bunch of different ways, and Brennan Clay ended the season with a strong performance in the Insight Bowl, but the Sooners weren’t able to rely on the run game down the stretch of the season.
- Bob Przybylo
The Sooners actually had an incredibly productive season in 2011, rushing for 2,118 yards on 469 attempts with an average of 4.5 yards per carry. Compare that with 2010 -- now-NFL starter DeMarco Murray was the primary ball-carrier (282 carries!) -- when Oklahoma rushed for less yards (1,932), more rushing attempts (578) and a staggeringly low 3.3 yards per carry, and you'll see that the Sooners improved immensely. The running back-by-committed approached was forced after the injury to Whaley, and the race to start in 2012 is wide open.
- Dane Beavers
What do you think? Grade the Sooners' tailbacks.