OU football: Williams back to full speed during OU win against Baylor
Heading into Saturday's 42-34 win against Baylor, junior running back Damien Williams' status was still uncertain.
Williams had hobbled off the field with an injured ankle in the fourth quarter of OU's 30-13 loss to Notre Dame on Oct. 29 after being held to just 29 yards on 13 carries.
He attempted to play against Iowa State last weekend but was tentative and visibly hampered by the injury. He carried the ball just three times for seven yards during the 35-20 win, and his absence paved the way for a career day from junior running back Brennan Clay.
He was expected to play against Baylor, but he wasn’t expected to be 100 percent.
Williams, however, was confident in his ability to perform.
“Coach let me know before the game (that I would start),” Williams said. “Throughout the (week of) practice, we were seeing where I was at and how I can cut and how I can run. I knew I was going to go. I was ready.”
And although Williams still may have been feeling the effects of an ailing ankle, he certainly didn’t show it.
“My second run, I kind of wanted to see what I could do with it, so that’s why I kind of cut a little bit in the open field,” Williams said. “I didn’t really need to, I just wanted to see where I was at with it, so that’s why. I felt great running. I felt like my ankle was real good.”
After rushing for more than 100 yards in three of his first five games as a Sooner — including an Owen Field-debut record of 156 yards against Florida A&M — Williams ran for 80 yards total in the last three games.
But he bounced back against Baylor, spearheading the Sooners’ ground game by rushing for 99 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 23 carries — the most touches he’s had all season.
“(He) did a lot of positive things, especially going north,” offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said. “Besides the fumble, (he) played really well, did a really good job of bending some of those inside zones back and getting into the end zone. So those were critical plays for us.”
Williams’ comeback game had one black mark: a fumble on the Sooners' first offensive play of the second half.
“That’s not something you want to see for a running back to do,” Williams said. “Things happen. All I can do is fix it throughout the week.”
Coach Bob Stoops also was unhappy with the play, although he praised the offense’s performance otherwise.
“Maybe the one disappointment (offensively) is probably the fumble,” coach Bob Stoops said. “You've got momentum; you've got great field position; you've got a chance to really separate a little bit, and we give them — on the first play — we give them the ball right back, which gives them momentum, and they go down and score.
“Once you've got the ball, you've got to be able to take care of it.”
Now, with just three games left on the schedule, the Sooners have regained a workhorse in their backfield. And with an offensive line thinned by injuries, Williams and OU’s stable of running backs will have to perform at a high level if the Sooners hope to receive their third BCS bid in five seasons.