By John Shinn
CNHI News Service
Oklahoma did what it was supposed to do on Saturday at Owen Field. It rolled through Florida A&M 69-13 and improved to 2-0.
How it did it is what raised a few eyebrows.
The fifth-ranked Sooners (2-0) rushed for 349 yards and scored eight of its 10 touchdowns on the ground. But it was junior college transfer Damien Williams who set the pace and looked like the most explosive running back OU’s had since DeMarco Murray graduated in 2010.
Williams rushed for 156 yards on just 10 carries and found the end zone four times. The last carry was an 89-yard dash that brought the 84,852 in attendance to their feet.
“When I see daylight, I’m going,” Williams said. “If someone catches me, I’ll pat them on the head and say good job.”
He didn’t have to hand out many compliments to Florida A&M defenders. Only six of Williams’ totes ended with a tackle.
“Damien is a strong powerful (running back) with excellent speed. It’s exciting to see him playing the way he is. He looked great out there tonight,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “Obviously the guys in front of him did a good job creating some seams for him.”
Every unit appeared to make strides since OU’s season-opening 24-7 victory at UTEP.
Landry Jones threw for 252 yards with touchdown passes to Kenny Stills, who had a career-high 10 catches, for 120 yards, and Trey Metoyer.
Of course, Saturday night’s game was a step down in competition. The Rattlers (0-2) are an FCS team and qualified as the rent-a-win on the Sooners’ schedule.
OU didn’t waste much time exposing that. It took a 14-point lead in the first quarter and led 35-10 at halftime. It started pulling starters midway through the third quarter.
Williams didn’t play in the fourth quarter. His last carry the 89-yarder. It was a continuation of what Williams at UTEP. Through two games, he’s rushed for 259 yards, five touchdowns and is averaging 12.95 yards per carry.
“I had no idea,” Williams said of his numbers. “The line is doing what they’re supposed to do and coaches are making the right calls. I feel like everything is going as planned.”
His rushing total Saturday night was the most ever by a Sooner in his Owen Field debut, surpassing the total Dominique Whaley set in last season’s opener by 25 yards.
It may not be the only way Williams trumped Whaley this season. Whaley got the start for the second straight game, but found himself on the sidelines for most of the second quarter and all of third quarter after a fumble with 10 minutes left in the first half.
Whaley rushed for 63 yards on 10 carries, including a 4-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter.
“We’re excited about Dom,” Stoops said. “He’s healthy and feeling good. He’s only going to get better. He isn’t going anywhere in our eyes. He’s going to remain in there.”
The Sooners’ defense allowed its first touchdown of the season. Florida A&M wide receiver Travis Harvey got behind OU cornerback Demontre Hurst and Damien Fleming found him for a 75-yard touchdown late in the second quarter. The play accounted for about a third of the Rattlers’ 235 yards of total offense.
Saftey Javon Harris had an interception and Jamarkus McFarland had two of the Sooners’ five sacks. Florida A&M picked up a pair of field goals from Chase Varnadore.
It was about the same total OU allowed in its season opener. The difference was it had its bench fully cleared by the fourth quarter.
The rout was expected, but what it everything the Sooners wanted?
“It was just a better game,” Jones said. “Everybody felt like it flowed smoother tonight. The offense did a lot of good things. You can not say enough about Damien Williams, of how hard he is running and how he is protecting the ball. The offensive line did a great job opening up for him.”
But OU understands here are no more tune-ups. The next opponent is No. 22 Kansas State on Sept. 22 at Owen Field.
“We’re very aware that we’re going to see stiffer competition coming up,” Stoops said.