Murray, who got the bulk of the workload the first part of the season, had 43 combined rushes for 201 yards in those three games against Iowa State, Missouri and Colorado, while Finch rushed 35 times for 210 yards in those contests.
And the mix of the two seemed to be keeping teams of balance, with the new types of formations OU was able to utilize.
That’s why when Murray had 31 carries to only four for Finch in last weekend’s 33-19 loss at Texas A&M, it raised some questions.
Questions that put head coach Bob Stoops on the defensive during his press conference this week.
“Because it’s DeMarco, the all-time leading touchdown scorer in Oklahoma history,” Stoops said, when asked why he so extensively used the 6-foot-1, 207 lb., savvy veteran.
He went on.
“Hey, when it doesn’t work, should have went with the other guy,” Stoops said. “[But] I’ve got total confidence in DeMarco, and he is more than capable of handling the ball 30, 35 times a game, so I’ve got no problem with it. He had scored, I don’t know, how many touchdowns he scored down on the goal line, a ton, experience.”
One of the biggest reasons everyone is questioning the decision so much is not just because Finch brings another type of explosiveness to the Sooner backfield but because of Murray’s fatigue after a huge workload that Stoops mentioned after the game.
“Well, he wasn’t worn out in the first or second time even,” Stoops said. “It was the third quarter.”
This justifies even more equal distribution, but Stoops still wouldn’t buy the conversation.
“I mean, you’re asking here,” Stoops said. “No, I don’t buy that, all right. You guys can do it all you want. I thought I’ll go with DeMarco any time.”
With how much success Finch was having, obvious things come to mind, like a potential lack of trust in Finch in key games.
Not the case, said offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson.
“He’s had one glitch to my knowledge, and that was the one game here early [against] Colorado,” Wilson said. “He went the wrong way on a run play, so he’s handled it well. There’s more coming his way. He’s practiced well. He’s been--knock on wood--very clean with the ball, and hopefully we can keep him going, keep DeMarco finishing strong and all of them, so but again he’s done [and] he’s doing very well for a young guy.”
So, it could have just been a situation where the Sooners didn’t lack trust in Finch but rather were relying on their experience in Murray to try to guide them through a tough road environment.
After all, they did it in the fourth quarter at Missouri, not giving Finch a touch there.
But maxing out Murray might not be quite as a good of an idea as mixing them and keeping teams off balance.
“I do think we should play more guys, but again that’s each [position] coach managing it,” Wilson said. “And again, I’ve made several suggestions through weeks of some linemen rotation, receiver rotations [and] running back. But, you know, each coach who is sitting in the meeting, practices with his guys, that’s his responsibility, his game. And that’s not pointing fingers at anyone. That’s just as fast as we’re going, I’m not saying give me this.”
It seems, though, like Sooner nation is saying, “Give us more this,” in the form of the 5-foot-8, 180 lb., versatile freshman, Finch.
“Well, the week before we did, and so sure he’s going to have opportunities definitely,” Stoops said. “But I never have a problem with DeMarco on the field.”
Neither does Sooner Nation when he’s breaking long runs for touchdowns, but Finch is another option that fans are calling for.