Spring Review: Running Backs

'Q' still the man; Venables impressed with OU run game; Jones makes his case for PT

It's the same song and verse at running back for the Sooners. Despite impressive performances by Jones and Jerad Estus, Quentin Griffin is without question the Sooners starting running back next fall.

"Quentin is the man and that is all there is to it," said Long. "Quentin was great this spring and looked like his old self. He was banged up last year and lost a little of his quickness. He was healthy this fall and was quick, tough and was making people miss all over the field.Ó

"The difference in Quentin and all our other running backs is that he is a complete back for us and that is so important in our offense,Ó said Long. Ï Renaldo (Works) and Jerad are much better all-around running backs this year, but Quentin is still the best we have."

New Run Game Coordinator and Offensive Line coach Kevin Wilson thinks so much of 'Q' that he predicts he will rush for 1,400 yards this year and have over 2,000 total yards in OU's new offense.

Wilson has installed a new attitude in the Sooner run game. He has closed the splits in the offensive line, put two F-backs in the backfield at the same time, lined up a tight end at h-back and put two tight ends in the box. All designed to improve the Sooner run game and it appeared to work.

"As defensive coaches we were impressed with the improvement our offense showed this spring running the ball," said Co-Defensive Coordinator and Linebacker Coach Brent Venables. "For the first time our defense had a challenge shutting down their running game and they got after us this spring.Ó

"Their scheme was sound, the offensive line fired off the ball and the running backs hit the hole very hard. There were times this spring were we didn't handle them very well and that certainly caught our attention."

While 'Q' may be the main guy this year he will get some help and their will be more opportunities for the other members of the Sooners fine stable of running backs. Works is bigger, stronger and even faster this spring. He is still the number two running back and is the most physical running back on the Sooner roster.

Just like last spring, Jared Estus was spectacular at times and is a better all-around running back.

"I like running two F-backs, because it gives us an opportunity to get another great football player on the field," said Wilson. "At Oklahoma, our running backs are some of our better football players on the team and we need to find a way to get them on the field. By lining up two F-backs we can get that accomplished and when both are in the game both will be threats to carry the football."

The question is will Wilson and running back coach Cale Gundy find a way to get Kejuan Jones the football. Quietly, the Sooner coaches all admit that Jones is the best running back on the team with a football under his arm. For the second straight week Jones was the star running back in a scrimmage, but this time the coaches didn't write it off.

"KeJuan was outstanding again today and proved that he can make something happen every time he touches the football," said Bob Stoops immediately following the Sooners annual spring game. "KeJuan gets up to his top speed with his first step and he is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. We have to find a way to get him on the field and get him the football."

Donta Hickson was another redshirt freshman to draw rave reviews. He is not as flashy or spectacular as Jones, but the coaches feel if both got 20 touches during the game their production would wind up being the same. The key question is whether either will see the field this year? Even the coaches can't answer that question right now.

Offensive line and Wide Receiver reviews coming Sunday.

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