Oklahoma looking thin at running back

Sooners without top rushing options heading into Insight Bowl

April 3, 2014 | 9:11 am

NORMAN, Okla. Oklahoma running back Roy Finch called his departed teammates "brothers." Running back Brennan Clay commented on how empty the locker room has gotten lately.

Once the No. 1 team in the country, now the Sooners are just looking for someone to carry the ball against Iowa Dec. 30 at the Insight Bowl.

Monday, coach Bob Stoops said freshman running back Brandon Williams will transfer, leaving the Sooners thin at running back against the Hawkeyes.

Finch is the No. 1 option, then there's Clay, who has been seldom used this season. Fullback Trey Millard could also get some carries. Williams had 219 yards in eight games, but had problems getting on the field because of fumbling and struggling to pick up blocking assignments.

It's hard when you see one of your brothers leave," Finch said. "It's tough. But you don't know what's going on with them and in their life.

Already this season running backs Jonathon Miller and Jermie Calhoun quit the team and said they were going to transfer after walk-on Dominique Whaley took over the starting spot at the beginning of the season. However, Whaley played just seven games before fracturing his ankle. He still leads the team with 627 yards.

And it leaves Stoops frustrated.

"We'll find other guys to do it," Stoops said of his depleted running back situation. "Unfortunately guys don't see the big picture and how many carries there are and how many snaps in a year and what their opportunities could be. But, what are you going to do?"

For the bowl game the Sooners, ranked No. 19 and 9-3, will rely on a trio of sophomores in Finch, Brennan Clay and Millard as Sooners (9-3) as they get ready to take on Iowa (7-5) in the Insight Bowl.

Finch has 601 yards rushing this season. He was named to the preseason All-Big 12 team, but struggled to get playing time earlier this season. Running back Brennan Clay has 230 yards rushing, but he has dealt with a number of injuries this season, including a concussion and a pinched nerve in his neck. Millard has only 20 carries all season.

"It feels like the locker room is getting emptier," Clay said. "But I know when I get on the field, I'm going to make it count."

Tuesday, Iowa announced leading rusher Marcus Coker has been suspended for the bowl game. Coker has rushed for 1,384 yards this season.

"I woke up one morning and came here, and, wow, man," Finch said of all the departures. "I don't know what's going on in their hearts, but they know what's best for them. I would say the bulk of the load is on me now. I have to have a pretty big game.'

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