Bedlam doesn't faze OU's Williams
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
11/29/11 at 3:41 AM
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NORMAN - Brandon Williams simply doesn't know any better.
Oklahoma's freshman running back has never played in Bedlam. He didn't watch last year's 47-41 epic. He's from Brookshire, Texas, not Broken Bow, Okla.
So when asked if he's aware of what he's getting into Saturday night at Boone Pickens Stadium, Williams just smiles and says: "Yeah. It's just another game to me. It doesn't really faze me none."
Chances are, Williams will feel a little different leaving Stillwater. Going in, though, it's just another bus ride.
And that's fine with the Sooners.
Williams has settled down and emerged the past two weeks. He gained 26 yards on just three carries at Baylor on Nov. 19, prompting some serious discussion among coaches the following day regarding Williams and Roy Finch, OU's 170-pound starting running back.
"Roy is getting tired and worn down, and he can only take so much," head coach Bob Stoops said. "We talked in our staff meeting that (Williams) did look really good."
Good enough to put him in for OU's second series against Iowa State last Saturday, to give him 11 carries. Williams turned them into a career-high 80 yards.
"He's playing a bigger and bigger role. He gives you a spark," Stoops said. "He's a fast guy, a strong runner, and very capable. We hope that will continue."
The Sooners need it to. It's what they've done throughout their eight-game Bedlam winning streak - pile up rushing yardage and keep OSU's best chance to win, its offense, off the field.
Finch helped DeMarco Murray do just that last year, as the Sooners held the ball for 11 minutes more than OSU. Now that Murray is a Dallas Cowboy, Williams can help Finch against the nation's 93rd-ranked rushing defense.
"You have two different styles," center Ben Habern said. "Brandon is a downhill, hard runner. Roy is side to side. It's good to have two types of backs able to run the ball like that."
As recently as a month ago, Williams wasn't in position to provide that 1-2 punch. He was the nervous kid who fumbled in a fourth-quarter cameo against Texas.
What changed since then?
"I'm more calm," Williams said. "When I got in that game ... The first part of that week I was so amped and so ready, I tensed up and wasn't relaxed. Now I'm more relaxed. I actually know what I'm doing. I'm going off instinct, really. I make my reads better.
"Everything is slowing down a little more."
As Williams has figured out what his coaches are trying to teach him, he has gained their trust.
"He has really shown in the last few games to be reliable," Stoops said. "He's taking care of the football, knows his assignments - those kinds of things."
"He's getting more opportunities, and he has earned those the way he has practiced," offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said. "You can see he's a difference-maker for us. Explosive, strong, has good vision. He's able to stick his toe in the ground and get vertical, too. He's a talented player. He just needs to keep coming on."
Williams' progression will be vital in Bedlam, even if he doesn't see what all the fuss is about.
"It's 22 men on the field competing. That's the way I look at it," he said.
If Williams happens to be among the most valuable of those 22 men?
"I'm really thankful," he said. "I've just been working hard throughout the season, and I guess my opportunity is coming now."
OU runners have brought Bedlam to OSU
Oklahoma's Bedlam winning streak hasn't just been about pinball machine numbers in the passing game. OU runners have helped out as well, often considerably. Here are the top 8 rushing efforts through the Sooners' 8-game streak over Oklahoma State:
1. Adrian Peterson: 33 carries, 249 yards, 1 touchdown, 2004
OU survived 38-35 and kept its national title hopes alive because Mark Bradley scored 3 touchdowns and Jason Ricks missed a 49-yard field goal in the closing seconds. Mainly, though, OU won because Peterson ran wild. He scored on a spectacular 80-yard run, then went 56 yards on his next carry to break De'Mond Parker's school record for freshmen.
2. Peterson: 24 carries, 237 yards, 2 touchdowns, 2005
The Sooners rolled 42-14 as Peterson took most of the load off freshman quarterback Rhett Bomar. He scored on rushes of 84 and 71 yards, and rushed for 210 yards in the second half alone to break Billy Sims' school record for a half.
3. Allen Patrick: 29 carries, 202 yards, 2 touchdowns, 2007
This time, Sam Bradford was the freshman quarterback who relied on a workhorse behind him. Patrick was just that in a 49-17 rout, carrying the load one week after DeMarco Murray's season-ending injury in a loss at Texas Tech.
4. Patrick: 23 carries, 163 yards, 1 touchdown, 2006
Peterson was sidelined by a broken collarbone. Quarterback Paul Thompson attempted just 11 passes. Didn't matter. Patrick carried the offense, most noticeably on a 63-yard touchdown run on the opening play of the second half, as OU prevailed 27-21.
5. Chris Brown: 19 carries, 98 yards, 2 touchdowns, 2008
In a game remembered more for Bradford's 370 yards passing and helicopter-like flip near the end zone, Brown provided a helpful complement. His 28-yard score put the wraps on OU's 61-41 triumph.
6 and 7: Renaldo Works (19 carries, 103 yards) and Kejuan Jones (22 carries, 86 yards, 2 touchdowns), 2003
OU's defense dominated, allowing Works and Jones to excel in the shadows of a 52-9 blowout. Excel they did, and a game many figured would be a hard-fought battle - both teams came in ranked for the first time since 1988 - got out of hand.
8. DeMarco Murray: 13 carries, 72 yards, 2 touchdowns, 2009
Murray rushed for more yardage in '08 (73) and '10 (80) Bedlam wins. But his contribution to OU's 27-0 shutout in '09 was a little more productive, based on the fact he scored 2 of the game's 3 touchdowns.
Original Print Headline: Bedlam doesn't faze Sooners' Williams
Guerin Emig 918-581-8355
Oklahoma's Brandon Williams runs the ball against Darian Cotton of Iowa State at Memorial Stadium in Norman on Saturday. The Sooners won, 26-6. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World