After practice last night, members of the Oklahoma offense stopped by to talk to the media regarding their upcoming game with West Virginia. Running back Damien Williams stopped in and was noticeably shaking so obviously the first question to the JUCO transfer was about the Oklahoma weather and if he has adapted to the sudden changes and the cold.
OU Running Back Damien Williams
“No not at all, I came from Arizona but am from San Diego originally so I am certainly not used to this cold weather yet,” said Williams.
Williams tried to play 2 weeks ago against Iowa State after severely spraining his ankle and although he thought he could go, he quickly figured out after about three plays that he simply couldn’t shift on the ankle and never returned to the game.
“Man, I don’t even think I was 70% in that game,” said Williams. “I told the coaches that I wanted to try and go but I cut back to the right on a play and it just kind of gave out and I knew that I better come out before I do further damage to it. I am just very competitive and I wanted to play so I tried but I guess it just wasn’t mean to be.
“I have been coming in about three times a day and getting it worked on and things and even though it’s not 100%, I am going to play on it like it is 100%. This game is physical and this is football and its either get hit or give out a hit and I like to be physical and I know that sometimes I have to get the short three (yards) before you can break a long one so I hope my ankle can hold up because I am going to test it.”
Last week against the Baylor Bears, fullback Trey Millard went around the right side and met a would-be tackler on the visitor’s sideline. By the time the play was over, Millard went for an extra 3 yards after the hit but the Baylor defender lay lifeless on the Owen Field turf for a few seconds. Williams says that although he was ahead of the play, he could hear the hit and knew exactly who delivered it.
“When I turned around I knew exactly what happened and who gave the lick and it’s good to know that you aren’t the only one who is out there going to war and that is ready to fight,” said Williams. “It’s great when my guys lay the wood and it’s usually the defenders doing it but we have some guys on offense that are great hitters as well. I will tell you this, Jalen Saunders can flat out hit for a little guy and he isn’t afraid to get in the mix and lay his head down and pop someone.”
Williams has burst onto the scene this year with great success and resurrected an Oklahoma running game that saw its fair share of struggles last year. Although the Texas game was obviously his biggest game of the year, Williams cautions those who think that he is satisfied with his play or that he is incapable of having another big game like he did in the Cotton Bowl.
“I feel like I can do better and we can do better as a team and I know that the end of the season, things are going to pick up but there is no settling on this team and there sure isn’t any settling within me. I am just trying to stay healthy because I know that my team needs me for the stretch run and between myself and Brennan and even Dom (Whaley), we are going to be called upon a lot in these last 3 games.”
This year, the Sooners have a stable of running backs that are not only productive but have been able to keep the balance that Head Coach Bob Stoops wants out of his offense. A big contributor to that success has been the much talked about improvement of junior tailback Brennan Clay. Williams says that the fans are getting to see what the players see in practice every day when it comes to the versatile Clay.
“Brennan can always do the things that you guys saw him do against Iowa State and that game just gave him the opportunity to showcase his talents and he shows it every day in practice that he is a complete back,” said Williams. “He had another outstanding game last week against Baylor and then he goes out and does what he is doing on kickoffs so he is just a great back with a lot of talent.”
Williams says that he doesn’t expect West Virginia to “lay down” for the Sooners and that they will be in a dog fight come Saturday.
“We feel like West Virginia is going to fight hard and they are certainly going to put up points so they will scheme up something on defense for us I am sure,” said Williams. “Their losses to me, don’t mean anything because you can be beat by anybody at any moment so all this talk about them losing four in a row, I don’t pay attention to because they won their first five so they know how to win and play at a high level.”
The Mountaineers biggest question mark is on the defensive side of the ball where they have given up a total of 198 points in their last four losses and Oklahoma State and K-State each put 55 points on eth WVU defense.
As the Sooners should be getting a player back in center Gabe Ikard, the Mountaineers have lost one in wide receiver Ivan McCartney. McCartney had 9 catches for 119 yards on the year but is the second receiver to leave the Mountaineers in the last week. WVU’s top two receivers Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin are geared up to face the Sooners but with the two defections, the Mountaineer receiving corps suddenly becomes very thin.
The Sooners are (2-2) all-time against the Mountaineers and will look to improve on that when they kick it off at 6:00 pm Saturday night in Morgantown. This will be OU’s first ever trip to West Virginia