Coming into the season it seemed that Brennan Clay was getting left out of the discussion for who would be seeing a significant number of carries. With Dom Whaley and Roy Finch returning, and Damien Williams coming in, it looked as though Clay would have to make his impact in the return game or in mop-up duty.
Clay had 157 yards and one touchdown last week against Iowa State
Some players may have got down and frustrated, but Clay just kept grinding.
"Brennan is the type of kid that regardless of what happens under the circumstances, if he is playing a lot or not playing a lot, he comes to practice every day,” said Landry Jones. “He works hard and he is humble. We are just really appreciative of Brennan and what he has done at this place and how hard he works.”
Through the first seven games of the season, Clay had only 30 carries and was 3rd on the depth chart behind Williams and Whaley. With Williams emergence in the running game, it was clear that Clay would be limited to just a few carries a game.
One game after he had just one carry for four yards, he finally got his chance. With Williams being hampered by an injury, Coach Stoops announced earliy in the week that if Williams was unable to play it would be Dom Whaley that would start. When the Sooners took the field for their first possession however, it was Clay that was lined up in the backfield.
Oklahoma is a school that traditionally has a lot of depth at running back, so when a back-up gets an opportunity it’s crucial that they make the most of it.
That’s exactly what Clay did.
In a game that was labeled as a “trap game” by some, Clay came out and had by far the best performance of his career. Co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel gave him the ball early and often, and Clay finished the day with 157 yards on 24 attempts and one touchdown. His signature run of the day came on an 18 yard touchdown run late in the 3rd quarter that pushed the Sooner lead to 15 points.
“I had my opportunity today,” said Clay. “I’m just thankful and blessed, and I thank the lord every day for that. It’s a sad situation that Damien was out, but I came in and was able to step up.”
For a guy that works as hard as he does, you could tell the whole team was ecstatic to see him have such a big day.
"It’s one of those deals where it is next guy up,” said Jones. “We leaned on Brennan today and he did an excellent job. When something good happens to those kinds of people you always want to cheer for them and get behind them."
If there’s one thing that coaches love, its players like Brennan Clay. There are few things more self-satisfying for a coach when they see a hard-working, non-selfish guy make the most out of his opportunity.
“It’s very satisfying for me and for the other guys to see Brennan have a big day,” said Bob Stoops. “He’s a great team player, he’s all for whoevers in there playing, and he comes to work every day with a positive attitude. He contributes in so many ways for us, whether it’s special teams, out of the backfield catching the ball. He’s an example for all those players too, to when your get your time, what are you going to do with it? Are you sitting around not ready for the opportunity, or when you have the opportunity do you take advantage of it, and he took advantage of it.”
If you’re a Sooner fan, you have to be rooting for a guy like Clay. The off the field arrests and suspensions around the country are what we always here about, but it’s refreshing to see great guys like Clay do big things on the field.
“At OU, there are great backs everywhere,” said Clay. “They recruit you because you’re good. You have to be able to make plays, and you have to be able to compete. “
With Williams health situation still an unknown, there’s a great chance that Clay will get the bulk of the carries once again this week. It will provide another opportunity for him to show how effective he can be. With his confidence being sky high, Clay has no doubt they can run the ball on anyone.
“I feel like we can have success against everyone, Baylor included. We're going to go out and execute and move the ball like we always do."
Clay and the rest of the offense will look to put up big numbers on the Baylor defense who is currently the worst statistical unit in the country.