Starting Running Back in Norman?

One is the reigning Big 12 offensive player of the week; the other would lead the Big 12 in rushing, if he qualified. Both Parrish Fisher and Thomas Clayton have proven they deserve to be on the field, and both will be ready in Norman. How will the two-headed monster play out? Coach Bill Snyder discusses who will be the starter on Saturday.

So how will the Wildcats deal with the running back situation? Prior to Saturday's game with North Texas that answer was a clear Thomas Clayton. After Saturday's performance by red-shirt freshman Parrish Fisher, that answer became much more mirky. Coach Snyder was so impressed with the play at running back, he apparently is going to let it play out on the field.

"Just put them on the field, and see how they play," Coach Bill Snyder said Tuesday. A great idea, it would seem, but often dealing with such situations isn't quite so easy.

While not committing to how who the starter will be in Norman, or exactly how the two backs may split carries, Snyder did say Fisher "deserves more opportunities on the field than what he had in the (Marshall) ballgame." Fisher did not touch a ball in the victory at Huntington.

Fisher said he couldn't say for sure whether he'll see more carries on Saturday. "I'm not the coach," Fisher said. "If they put me in, all I can do is be ready."

Clayton confirmed that he had chosen not to enter the game when given the chance on Saturday. "It's even about me," Clayton said. "I think a lot of people say 'Oh, Thomas Clayton's number one in the nation,' and they think it's all about me, but it's not. It's about the team. (Fisher) was doing a good job, and it was an opportunity for him to gain some more experience. Some much-needed experience."

Fisher may have earned offensive player of the week for his performance against North Texas, but he didn't find out about it on his own accord. He wasn't aware of the award until someone else told him, and he said that he wouldn't pay much attention to awards and the like. "I'm just going to do what I do every Saturday," Fisher said. "(Winning an award)'s not my plan going into the week. If I get it, that's a good thing and I'm excited about it."

What about a dual-runningback backfield, featuring both Clayton and Fisher? While it may sound like a fan's dream, neither Clayton nor Fisher would confirm that it would be part of the game plan. "I'd say that we're capable of using them interchangeably," Snyder said.

Clayton said he's willing to share the load with Fisher, as long as it's part of the game plan. "If that's in the game plan, obviously I have to go with it," Clayton said.

Fisher said it's harder to get into a rhythm if you aren't in there from the start, but added that careful observation of the other back can help in that regard.

With Clayton back in the fold, quarterback Allen Webb said he's confident the runningback will be ready on Saturday. "He's focused, and he's ready to go," Webb said. "He got rest Saturday. That was a good thing to come out of it. (The legal situation) is behind him and he's ready to go."

Snyder also addressed Clayton's recent legal issue, which resulted in Clayton being charged with battery. "The county attorney did what he had to do," Snyder said. Snyder reiterated his confidence that Clayton meant no harm those involved in the situation. "(Clayton) made a bad choice, a bad decision about leaving when he did," Snyder said.

Even though the matter has been officially dealt with, Snyder said some people might still confuse the issue with something more serious. "The initial charge was changed," Snyder said. "And I think what people probably see is the word 'battery' and don't see any difference between one and the other."

Whatever combination of the two backs is seen on Saturday, it's a safe bet that they'll play a key role in determining the outcome of the ballgame.



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