Coming into this season one of the major focuses for Oklahoma was establishing a better running game.
If Friday night's performance against Tulsa is any indication of just how improved the Sooner running attack will be in 2002,Oklahoma should have the balanced offense they lacked a year ago.
Quentin Griffin rushed for a career-high 237 yards as the Sooners rushed for over 300 yards for the first time in the Bob Stoops era in their 37-0 win over Tulsa Friday night.
In all, the Sooners carried the ball 42 times for 378 yards and racked up 509 yards of total offense. Griffin needed only 17 carries to put up his best numbers as a Sooner and the 13th best single game rushing performance in Oklahoma history.
"Quentin worked really hard this spring and over the summer," said Oklahoma quarterback Jason White. "It's great to see him have the game he had tonight."
"It's exciting. You feel well when you play well, but I applaud the offensive line," said Griffin after his best night as a Sooner. "I can't say enough about what they do. The offensive line kept working hard and was a motivation throughout the game."
Oklahoma only led 3-0 at halftime after turning the ball over three times inside the 20-yard line in the first half, but they exploded in the second half for 33 points led by their outstanding quartet of running backs.
Oklahoma struck quickly on their first possession of the second half when Kejuan Jones capped a five play 67-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown run. Griffin had the big play in the drive breaking a 44-yard run to get the Sooners deep into Tulsa territory.
Antonio Perkins helped the extend the lead to 17-0 with a 91-punt return (tied Tommy McDonald for the third longest in Sooner history) on OU's next possession.
Griffin then broke a 50-yard run (the longest of his career) on OU's next possession to set up Jones' second touchdown of the night early in the third quarter on a 1-yard run.
Jones, a native of Tulsa from Jenks High School, had a happy homecoming with 70 yards rushing on 11 carries in addition to his two scores.
Another Tulsa native, junior running back Renaldo Works, found the end zone on a 13-yard run with 4:26 to go in the game to push the Sooners' lead to 24-0. Works finished with 55 yards on six carries.
"We got off to a slow start tonight. There were a lot of mental mistakes that we'll have to work on before next week," said White, who completed 15-of-26 passes for 126 yards.
"Motivation got us going in the second half, but it was frustrating getting to the red zone and going flat."
Sophomore running back Jared Estus capped the OU scoring onslaught in the second half with an 11-yard touchdown run with 1:46 remaining.
Oklahoma's defense proved to be as good as advertised on this night giving up only 213 yards of total offense. The shutout was the first road shutout by an Oklahoma team since the 28-0 win at North Carolina in 1988.
Junior college transfer Lance Mitchell led the Oklahoma defense with 8.5 tackles while Teddy Lehman pitched in seven.
With the win Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops improves to 4-0 in season openers.
OU-Tulsa Box Score
Off And Running
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