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September 27, 2011

Notebook: Whaley emerges, Williams not out yet

Dominique Whaley's major college football career is now spans three games. Through those three games we've learned plenty.

Whaley is the Sooners leading rusher, by a wide margin. He has 55 carries for 270 yards and five touchdowns. His longest run is 35 yards and he averages 4.9 yards per carry.



We also know Whaley has been so impressive, Bob Stoops recently tracked down strength and conditioning coach Jerry Schmidt to get a full report on how impressive his testing numbers were.

"I was asking coach Schmidt that the other day, I said, 'What are his numbers compared to Adrian (Peterson)?'" Stoops recalled. "They're very similar."

"(Whaley's) about 208 pounds, he's a 4.4-flat 40 guy, where we had Adrian at 4.37.

"Vertical jump he's 40 inches, which is a hair more than Adrian. And he's an 11-foot broad jumper, which is almost a foot longer than Adrian. So he's a powerful guy."

The question with Whaley becomes: Why hasn't the walk-on transfer taken over the starting role from Brennan Clay after clearly being the most impressive back on the roster?

Clay averages just 3.9 yards per carry and his longest run of the season is only 12 yards.

"We'll just see where it goes," said Stoops. "That's something that coach Gundy and coach Heupel and coach Norvell, as they prepare for the game and what they anticipate, and then how the game's going. But we'll see how it goes. It's only three games.

THE UPS AND DOWNS OF INJURIES

Stoops confirmed again on Tuesday that starting center Ben Habern would be out for six to eight weeks at the center position. But that doesn't rule out an earlier return to the guard position.

At guard, Habern won't have to snap the ball, and because of his broken forearm, his snapping motion is affected by having to twist his wrist to deliver the football.

"It's because of, I guess, the bone - the rotation of it. It isn't like sometimes you can protect something. If it didn't have anything to do with the rotation in the wrist, then he could go probably early. But that's why it's going to take at least that long to play guard and then they think 6-8 to snap. So, they're just a little unsure. Again, I think everything determines how guys heal and as they watch it progress."

Gabe Ikard has made the full-time move to center this week in practice to take over for Habern.

"Gabe's a very smart and bright guy that's played a lot at guard, so we expect him to really handle the snapping well," said Stoops.

Habern's injury will also force Stoops and offensive line coach James Patton to rework some of their depth at the guard position. Tyler Evans was singled out by Stoops for a high level of play against Missouri, but he and Stephen Good could use more backup help moving forward.

Stoops says they'll look to the young guys who have been performing well in practices to step things up.

"We've got to bring some other guys along, whether you have Adam Shead has a chance to maybe get in, Bronson Irwin has a chance to maybe get some more snaps and more work. And then you even have the possibility of possibly looking once in a while at getting Jarvis Jones in there at a guard spot on occasion. I'm sure that between coach Patton and coach Kittle, they'll be looking at all those options.

Stoops called Jones "rusty" on Tuesday but said he's making good progress in practices.

SPOTLIGHT ON WILLIAMS

Over the first two weeks of the season, most of the questions about running back centered around Roy Finch. On Tuesday, Brandon Williams name was thrown into the mix as a player people are curious to see in games.

Stoops took the opportunity to recognize that fact when he was asked if Williams was going to play anytime soon.

"On to him instead of Roy Finch this week?" joked Stoops. "Everybody has their favorites."

The question of whether Williams will redshirt has been a topic of discussion recently. But Stoops said on Tuesday that the staff still has no plans to redshirt Williams, even though he hasn't played yet.

It might be an indication that this staff believes they can still get more from the running back position, even with Whaley playing at a high level.

"We continue to bring Brandon along. He's a great guy that's working hard," said Stoops. "We love him. He's gonna play as time goes. It's just a matter of being more reliable and taking care of the football and being assignment correct."


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