Oklahoma football: Best thing I saw in a Sooner nightmare not worth repeating

Oct 1, 2022; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Jovantae Barnes (2) celebrates with Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Marvin Mims (17) after scoring a touchdown during the first half against the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 1, 2022; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Jovantae Barnes (2) celebrates with Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Marvin Mims (17) after scoring a touchdown during the first half against the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit

In a nightmare of an Oklahoma football game from which any Sooner positives were few and far between, there was actually something good that came out of it.

With junior running back Marcus Major not available at TCU, true freshman Jovantae Barnes moved into the No. 2 role behind starter Eric Gray.

Barnes has played in all four Oklahoma games this season, but his performance against TCU on Saturday was easily his best of the season and of his young collegiate career. The Las Vegas native carried the ball 18 times against TCU for 100 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught two passes, his first two as a Sooner, for 14 additional yards. The longest of his 18 rushing attempts on Saturday was for 20 yards.

With his two touchdowns against TCU, Barnes became the first OU true freshman to collect two touchdowns in a game since Trey Sermon did it in 2017.

His performance on Saturday, a lone bright spot in a very erratic offensive display by the Sooners, followed a 77-yard rushing effort a couple of weeks before in a 49-14 Oklahoma win at Nebraska. For the season, Barnes has collected 223 rushing yards on 44 carries, an average of just over five yards per carry.

Offensive coordinator said Jeff Lebby said to reporters in his press conference on Monday that he really likes Barnes’ attitude and the hard work he has put in since arriving at Oklahoma.

“Jovantae has continued to do a really nice job,” Lebby said. “He had a really good spring and a great summer and has really worked (hard).

“He’s created value because of who he’s been in the locker room every single day,” the Sooner offensive coordinator said. “I’m proud of the way he played (against TCU). He played tough, fast and took care of the football, and he’ll continue to get opportunities.”

Barnes has earned the opportunities he’s been given to see the field as a true freshman, and he is living up to the expectations the OU coaches had for him, perhaps even a little earlier than expected, when they recruited him as a four-star running back prospect in the 2022 class.