Football, Sports, WVU Sports

Big 12 notebook: O.U. OL loves dominating foes

FRISCO, Texas — Offensive lineman Ben Powers radiated intensity while reliving how the running game contributed to Oklahoma’s dynamic offense last season.
“What gets me going is, I love to take a grown man’s dreams, and I love to crush his dreams,” the senior guard said July 17. “I love dominating. That’s why I do what I do.”
In complement to their Heisman-winning quarterback, Baker Mayfield, the Sooners featured the Big 12’s top rushing attack at 219 yards per game. They averaged a season-high
8.9 yards per carry against WVU to dominate the regular-season finale, 59-31. Then they whipped TCU, 41-17, for the Big 12 championship, milking the final eight minutes on a run-exclusive drive.
“It’s fun to know that you’ve taken the breath out of someone and they don’t want to go no more,” Powers said. “It’s fun to make someone quit.”
Kansas running back Khalil Herbert’s 291-yard detonation against WVU turned out to be the top rushing performance in the Big 12 last season.
His combined output for the ensuing seven games? Just 225 yards.
Now a junior, Herbert reflected on the breakout game at Big 12 media days.
“After the first drive, we realized we could run the ball. The O-line was in sync that day, and the coaches saw that.”
Recalling a 59-yarder in which he juked Dravon Askew-Henry off-balance before stiff-arming the safety to the turf, Herbert said, “It’s instincts at that point. If everybody is accounted for in the box, that last guy — the safety — is on us.”
Because Kansas ultimately lost, 56-34, Herbert said the eye-popping stats felt hollow. “I mark success by a W. It was great, I guess, but I wanted to win that game.”
TCU’s Ben Banogu, the Big 12 preseason defensive player of the year, notices the intangibles of Will Grier, the league’s top preseason offensive prospect.
“I think him and Baker (Mayfield) kind of have that same competitive gene. Both of them are winners, and you’re always going to get the best out of them.”
O.U. players donned their garishly oversized Big 12 championship rings at Monday’s interview session. Why did running back Rodney Anderson have his sized for the middle finger?
Because both traditional ring fingers were occupied by Oklahoma’s 2015 and 2016 rings.
“So I had to move this one over,” he said.
While teammates are caught up in the Fortnite crush, Anderson isn’t into video games. Instead, he enjoys hanging out with his girlfriend and catching up on “Breaking Bad” on Netflix.
“I know it’s old, but I finally got around to watching it,” he said.
Kyle Kempt ascended from third-string walk-on to campus hero by directing Iowa State’s titanic upset in Norman last season.
But popularity has its drawbacks.
“I’ve definitely been in the spotlight a lot more, more than I’d like,” he said. “I can’t go out to eat anymore.”
He especially misses stopping in at Jethro’s BBQ.
“After the TCU game, I must’ve stood and talked an hour while my food was sitting there,” Kempt said. “Iowa’s so awesome and the fans are as good as it gets, so I can’t say no.”
— Commissioner Bob Bowlsby on coaches favoring the relaxation of redshirt rules: “It was the right change at the right time … but I hope it doesn’t have the effect of putting kids on the field before they’re ready to play.”
— Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley on the NCAA increasing transfer flexibility: “I’m not against it — I’m not. I do think that guys ought to have a right to go where they want to go, and I do think the policies maybe were slanted with a little too much power to the schools. … I think the tampering is going to grow exponentially. I know they’re talking about making the punishment a little more strict, but they’re going to have to get it to about the death penalty to make it stop.”