As might be expected after a 242-yard, four-touchdown rushing performance in a starting debut Saturday, Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine is receiving heaps of praise.
It’s well-deserved. Perine (whose full name is pronounced sa-MAH-jay PEE-Rine), is a load at 5 feet 11 and 243 pounds. As Sooners coach Bob Stoops described, “He’s tough to get your arms around. He’s powerful and thick.”
Perine carried the ball 34 times and evoked memories of other great Oklahoma freshman running backs like Quentin Griffin and Adrian Peterson.
But the echo reaction two days after the effort in the Sooners’ 45-33 victory at West Virginia casts a spotlight on the offensive line.
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That’s where Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen placed the emphasis.
“The offensive line did a phenomenal job getting off the ball,” Holgorsen said. “They were getting to the linebackers and knocking them 5 yards past linebacker depth.”
The offensive line of tackles Tyrus Thompson and Darryl Williams, guards Adam Shead, Nila Kasitati and Dionte Savage, and center Ty Darlington helped Oklahoma accumulate 301 rushing yards. Perine averaged 7.1 yards per carry, and Alex Ross, who added 56 yards, had 7.0 yards per attempt.
When Stoops graded film on Sunday, Perine and the offensive line were noted as players of the game.
The running-back position looked uncertain, especially outside the program, entering the season. Freshman Joe Mixon, a prized recruit expected to be a major contributor, was suspended for the season for punching a female student.
That left sophomore Keith Ford, who rushed for 134 yards last season, as the position front-runner. And Ford started the first two games, rushing for 194 yards and five touchdowns. But he suffered fractured foot in the victory over Tennessee the previous week and had been ruled out for at least two games.
Perine also had gotten carries the first three games, and now the Sooners appear to have a breakout player. He leads the Big 12 in rushing at 104.8 yards per game.
Big 12 players of the week
Dakorey Johnson, LB, Kansas State
Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma
Alex Ross, KR, Oklahoma
Texas Tech at Oklahoma State, 6:30 p.m., ESPN
UTEP at Kansas State, 11 a.m., FSN
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