Brooks sparks Bedlam dominance
STILLWATER – The signs have been there the last couple of weeks. The Oklahoma offense, known as a quick-strike juggernaut under head coach Lincoln Riley, was going through a transformation of some sorts.
The methodical, the ground-and-pound, it’s become the Sooners way. Leading the movement has been running back Kennedy Brooks. He’d been inching closer and closer to having that defining moment. He waits no more following an outstanding performance in OU’s 34-16 win in Bedlam at Oklahoma State on Saturday night.
With all the talk of OSU running back Chuba Hubbard throughout the week, it was Brooks who ended up being the running back of the night.
“He’s just so steady and consistent. You know what you’re going to get out of KB,” wide receiver Nick Basquine said. “He’s not a flashy player, but he makes the right cut. He’s big in pass pro. He’s well-rounded. That’s just the testament to the work he has put in and type of player and person he is.”
Take a trip to just a month ago. In OU’s only loss of the season, running backs Brooks and Trey Sermon combined for six carries and just one in the second half of the 48-41 defeat at Kansas State.
Brooks had 22 attempts for 160 yards with a touchdown, averaging 7.3 yards per rush. Hubbard had some early moments before the OU defense locked him down on a 104-yard night and a touchdown. OSU’s Heisman contender was limited to just 25 yards on eight carries in the second half.
OU rushed for 283 yards, more than doubling’s OSU’s output of 128 yards.
All the great running backs say it. They need to touch the ball to find that groove. Because once they do, they take off. It was a period of adjustment with quarterback Jalen Hurts because of how much he carries the ball, too.
Nothing has dramatically changed in that regard. Hurts still had 16 carries for 61 yards and a touchdown, but Brooks has been able to be the workhorse that he wants to be. Especially in the month of November.
“Man, just confidence, just going out there, not doing too much, taking what you can get,” Brooks said. “You don't want a back that loses yards. You just go out there and take what the defense gives you, and if you can make a big play off it, then do it, go ahead, but at the end of the day, your job is to get the offense down the field.”
And Brooks and the offense never did that more efficiently than on an 11-play, 93-yard drive that ended with Brooks’ touchdown to give OU a 27-16 advantage 3:22 left in the third quarter.
On the 6:19-minute drive, Brooks had eight carries for 51 yards after not touching the ball on OU’s initial three-and-out of the second half.
Brooks, the offensive line, it all came together for the Sooners against the Cowboys.
“Oh yea, for sure,” said Brooks about the importance of that drive. “Putting your will on somebody, man, there's no better feeling. I love it.”
Add another layer to this offense. Hurts can beat you passing or running. Heck, Hurts added receiving by becoming the second OU player ever to score a touchdown passing, rushing and receiving in one game.
Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, a Biletnikoff finalist, has shown he can be that guy to make that type of difference.
With a gusty wind throughout the evening, the Sooners had to rely on the run game. Riley knew he could because he knew Brooks would get the job done.
“Very steady. Just continues to be him. He’s not missing cuts,” Riley said. “He’s very in sync with our offensive line. He’s been so close to popping his kind of standard 60 and 70 yarders. I swear there was five tonight where we thought it’s out.
“But despite that, he’s had a lot of big runs, he’s held onto the ball with great ball security. He always kind of gets what’s there, always. He doesn’t ever really leave much on the table and occasionally gets some that maybe aren’t there, which is a good characteristic for a running back to have.”