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November 1, 2010Oklahoma's 43-10 victory over Colorado on Saturday helped put the Sooners back on a winning track following their disappointing loss at Missouri. But it also provided a chance for Kevin Wilson and the OU offense to continue their evolution.
Landry Jones brushed off the struggles in Columbia and put together his best performance of the season completing 32-of-46 passes for 453 yards and four touchdowns. After two interceptions against Missouri, Jones kept passes far from Buff defenders and even threw a few perfect passes during the evening.
Two of those passes were to Ryan Broyles, who broke the school record for receiving yards in a game by pulling in nine receptions for 208 yards and three touchdowns.
But beyond the performances by Jones and Broyles, offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson continued to build on his offense with true freshmen Roy Finch as part of his personnel packages.
Finch rushed ten times for 59 yards and caught four passes for 30 yards. But Wilson continued to expand his role lining up the dynamic freshmen as a slot receiver.
Finch is going through his own version of a cram session the last two weeks after returning from a hairline fracture in his ankle. The versatile runner is starting to see action as a kickoff returner along with being the No. 2 running back behind Demarco Murray. He's also trying to figure out the part of the offense that puts him in the game as a receiver when he shares the huddle with Murray on offense.
They're trying to do a lot of things with me and Brennan (Clay)," said Finch. "They're throwing us in the slot just to move us around to show the defense different looks. Each week we're just building and putting in new plays and just trying to do different stuff to keep the defense on their heels."
Finch has often been just one arm tackle away from breaking the big one as a running back and it's expected those game-changing runs will come soon. But the biggest challenge so far for Finch is learning how to become a bigger playmaker as a slot receiver.
You can almost sense that Finch is more enamored with that aspect of the Oklahoma offense as well.
After Broyles broke the school record Saturday night, Finch seemed almost star-struck by the Sooners best receiver.
"He works hard at practice," said Finch. "Everything he does, he wants to be the best. I kind of feed off of him and I'm trying to learn as much as I can from him before he leaves. He's just one of those God-given talents that doesn't come around often and I'm just happy to be around him and learning from him."
If the OU offense has an area where they can improve most, it is in finding ways to use Finch and Murray on the field at the same time.
Wilson can also add Broyles into that mix because of his versatility of being a slot receiver or an outside receiver. But for Finch, there is still more cramming to come if that is going to happen.
"He's not as complete as Demarco is at receiver but not bad out in space. You can throw and you can do some of those reverse type of things with him for sure," said Wilson.
"He helps you at receiver but all the extra running probably wears you a little bit as a runner and you don't play as well in the backfield. That's a double-edged sword but he is able to do some things and we'll keep working and looking at it.
"We started that in two-a-days and kind of got away from it with his injury. He and Brennan were doing a lot of that and when Brennan was injured against Florida State that kind of went on the shelf.
"We went back because he's been doing well and we started working it a little bit here recently."
OTHER NEWCOMERS COMING
Oklahoma's big win over Colorado also allowed Wilson to get a better look at the progress of some of his other true freshmen such as receiver Trey Franks and tight end Austin Haywood.
Franks finished the game with four catches for 55 yards, including a nifty 24-yard gain weaving and dodging his way through defenders.
Haywood did not log a catch against Colorado, but he did play early and was a big part of the offensive gameplan.
"The more we keep playing Austin and the more we keep playing Trey the better they do," said Wilson. "We need to get them in there even earlier. We played Austin a lot at Iowa State and he really did well. I didn't get him in at Missouri until the third quarter and the game was kind of tight and I just told myself I was going to put him in early.
"Trey showed again last night a very competitive play across the middle and a defender all over him and he makes a nice play on one of the scoring drives. He did a great job there at the end on the little jailbreak screen play. Both those guys haven't played as much as some of the other freshmen but when they've gotten in there they've done well and they're earning more time."
FINCH THE TRUE NUMBER TWO
There are no more doubts as to whether Finch will have to share time with senior running back Mossis Madu as Demarco Murray's backup. Madu did not play against Colorado after being considered Murray's backup most of the season.
Madu has had issues with ball security through the first half of the season, and that combined with the emergence of Finch, means Madu finds himself down on the depth chart heading to Texas A&M.
"One of our things offensively as we go through and play the year is that you earn your job and you earn the right to have the ball," explained Wilson. "We just thought he had a couple of careless errors and he's at a position where there is some really good depth and the other guys aren't bad. We just thought these other guys haven't been bad so we'll give these other guys a chance to carry the ball."