Eric Gray brought the Sooners racing game to life
Come back Eric Graya football transfer from Oklahoma from Tennessee, is enjoying a career year in his second season as a Sooner.
Seven games into the 2022 season, Gray has been a bright spot in an otherwise substandard football year at Oklahoma. The 5-foot-10, 210-pound senior leads the Sooners with 695 rushing yards and is on track for his first 1,000-yard season.
a year ago with Kennedy Brooks occupying the No. 1 running back position for the Sooners, Gray’s playing time was limited as a substitute. He gained 412 yards on 78 carries, but with his touches limited in the running game, it was questioned whether he would be able to take on the lead role and provide the level of production that the rushing offense of the OU requires to balance the attack.
Gray and junior Marcus Major were the two offensive coordinator of the returning running backs Jeff Leby was counting on to lead OU’s rushing offense this season, and Gray quickly became No. 1 on the depth chart. He literally hit the ground running this season, topping the 100-yard mark while rushing in three of the Sooners’ first four games, and last weekend against Kansas, the sneaky, quick running back set a high. in career with 176 yards rushing, two touchdowns and averaging 8.8 yards per carry.
A two-play streak late in the second quarter is indicative of the power and confidence in Gray’s performance running the ball on Saturday. Late in the second quarter, Gray scored on an apparent 18-yard touchdown run, only to have the play canceled by a Sooner holding penalty. ESPN announcers covering the game remarked that while Gray was heading the ball, they just had to hand it to him.
No problem. OU did just that, and Gray provided a replay, this time going 28 yards for a touchdown to extend Sooner’s lead to 35-14.
Gray was asked after the game how he felt about his performance against the Kansas defense, ranked 39th in the nation against the run entering the game:
“(The running backs) Coach DeMarco (Murray) talked about winning one-on-one battles. At the end of the day, they can’t block everyone. We have to miss one. I have was able to do it today. Great props to the O line for getting me to the second level.
Gray’s previous best season in 2022 was his second year at Tennessee in 2020, when he rushed for 772 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 4.99 yards per carry, and also caught 30 passes out of the backfield. for 254 yards and two touchdowns.
So far this season, Gray ranks third in the Big 12, just behind Texas State’s Bijan Robinson and Kansas State’s Deuce Vaughn, and 13th nationally with 695 rushing yards. The Sooner senior is sixth nationally with 7.2 yards per attempt and ranks fifth nationally for rushes of 10 yards or more.
Oklahoma’s rushing offense is averaging 222.6 yards in seven games. It’s 17th best in the nation among FBS teams and is a perfect complement to the Sooners’ passing offense, which averages 249.3 yards per game.
“Anytime the running game is dominant, it opens up a lot of things for us, it allows us to do a lot of things,” OU quarterback Dillon Gabriel told reporters earlier this season.
“So having him (Gray) and the O line sets him up for him, when you give him open lanes or just good one-on-ones, he usually wins them.”