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SoonerTimes Home > SoonerTimes > OU Sports > Running back depth with Trey Sermon gone


Running back depth with Trey Sermon gone
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47Straight
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 Posted: Wed Mar 25th, 2020 02:39 pm

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Earthly goods are given to be used, not to be collected.... Hoarding is idolatry. -- Dietrich Bonhoeffer


:ou::ou::ou::ou::ou::ou::ou::ou::ou::ou::ou::ou::ou::ou::ou::ou:

Trey Sermon’s decision to enter the transfer portal and head to Ohio State wasn’t all that surprising given the way last season played out for him personally. After rushing 285 times for 1,691 yards and 18 touchdowns during his freshman and sophomore seasons, he carried the ball only 54 times in nine games before an ACL tear prematurely ended his junior campaign.

In transferring to Ohio State, Sermon will play his final season in the same stadium where he scored his first career touchdown. Sermon’s 10-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown reception from Baker Mayfield on Sept. 9, 2017, put the Sooners up by two scores in a 31-16 win at Ohio Stadium. Sermon’s final two touchdowns in an Oklahoma uniform, it turns out, came in the Oct. 5, 2019, win at Kansas. The week after that Kansas game, he received no touches against Texas in the Cotton Bowl — a strange situation that coach Lincoln Riley never fully explained.

“Just some of it is the way the game went,” Riley said a few days after that. “Jalen’s eating up some of the carries from some of the backs this year. It’s a competitive backfield right now. We’ve had other very talented backfields in the last several years here, but I don’t know that we’ve had one with as much depth as we currently have right now.

“It happens when you’ve got other good players. He’ll have his other big moments for us.”

Except Sermon never did. From the Texas game forward, he never touched the ball more than five times in a game. He was injured in the second quarter of Oklahoma’s Nov. 9 home win over Iowa State and never returned to the field.

Clearly, there was a falling out of some kind between Sermon and the OU coaches behind the scenes. Sources with knowledge of Sermon’s thinking said he was unhappy with how last season played out and wanted a fresh start elsewhere.
Interestingly, Sermon remained with the OU program through the start of spring practice. He didn’t enter the transfer portal during the flurry of entries from OU in the weeks following the Peach Bowl. Sermon was even listed on the official 2020 spring roster that OU disseminated at Riley’s pre-spring news conference. It seemed as if he would give new running backs coach DeMarco Murray a big boost by sticking around.

But March 14, he tweeted his intention to enter the transfer portal. Over the weekend, he announced his destination. And at Ohio State, he will arrive as the presumptive starter in a backfield that desperately needed someone.

What does the Oklahoma running back room look like now that Sermon is off to Columbus?

Last season was, at times, a rough one for Oklahoma tailbacks in general. In the Sooners’ only regular-season loss — Oct. 26 at Kansas State — tailbacks Sermon, Kennedy Brooks and Rhamondre Stevenson combined for six carries. Quarterback Jalen Hurts was the Sooners’ leading rusher and clearly took carries away from the running backs.

That likely won’t be as much of an issue in 2020 with the assumed rise of redshirt freshman Spencer Rattler, who is athletic but also more of a traditional Lincoln Riley quarterback than was Hurts.

Despite Riley being a prominent branch off Mike Leach’s coaching tree, his offenses feature more rushes than passes. That was a little more pronounced last year with Hurts, but it’s been true in each of his five seasons in Norman.

Brooks’ decision to return for his redshirt junior season was a big boon to the Sooners — especially now that Sermon has left. Brooks is a two-time 1,000-yard rusher and will enter this season as one of the Big 12’s best backs. Brooks has averaged 7.54 yards per rush over the past two seasons, but this will be the first time he enters a season as Oklahoma’s clear-cut No. 1 back; he emerged along with Sermon in 2018 after Rodney Anderson’s early-season injury, and last season, both he and Sermon were coming off 1,000-yard (or close) seasons.

The Sooners will rely even more on Brooks early in the season while Stevenson serves what is expected to be a five-game suspension to start the season. Junior T.J. Pledger had just 10 carries last season, but the former four-star prospect has an opportunity to break out early this season with Sermon gone and Stevenson likely suspended.

Redshirt freshman Marcus Major is another guy to watch. He was impressing coaches and teammates in practice last season before suffering a shoulder injury. Because he is a big, physical runner like Stevenson, maybe he is a suitable replacement as Brooks’ primary alternate.

And even though he didn’t get a full spring, true freshman Seth McGowan could find his way into action right away. An early enrollee, he got valuable time on campus and in meeting rooms, even if his first spring was cut short because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Still, it remains imperative that Murray and OU sign two top-tier running backs in the 2021 class.

“There’s a lot of depth in that room,” Murray said before spring practice started. “I’m extremely excited about that, but the competition will be very high. It’s a great problem to have for me.”

While there is talent, it’s not all that experienced. Between the five scholarship backs, there are 388 career carries — and 274 of those are by Brooks.

Last edited on Wed Mar 25th, 2020 02:40 pm by 47Straight

JohnDa5id
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 Posted: Wed Mar 25th, 2020 06:05 pm

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer!

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Dietrich+Bonhoeffer

ClintA.Adams
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 Posted: Wed Mar 25th, 2020 10:31 pm

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Another position I am not worried about barring multiple injuries.

ArmySooner
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 Posted: Thu Mar 26th, 2020 08:28 am

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The least our worries.


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