Oklahoma football: One big thing I saw in 3-point OU loss to Baylor

Nov 5, 2022; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Baylor Bears running back Craig Williams (0) runs with the ball against the Oklahoma Sooners during the second half at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 5, 2022; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Baylor Bears running back Craig Williams (0) runs with the ball against the Oklahoma Sooners during the second half at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports /
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All last week, the Oklahoma football team prepared to battle a tough and physically minded group of Bears on Saturday. Instead, it was a “Sqwirl” running loose all over the field that no OU player could seem to contain that ended up doing the Sooners in.

While defensive coordinator Ted Roof and the OU defensive coaches had geared the game plan to stopping or at least slowing down Baylor freshman running back Richard Reese, who had averaged 130 rushing yards in his last three games, including 186 in a win over Kansas, Baylor offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes threw the Sooners a curve by starting redshirt junior Craig “Sqwirl” Williams in the backfield over Reese.

The speedy Williams was a 2018 Baylor recruit, but due to injuries he had played in just seven games for Baylor before this season

In the two previous games leading up to Baylor’s trip to Oklahoma, Williams had just five carries for a total of 36 yards. Even so, that figures out to over seven yards per carry. And he averaged even better than that in 25 carries against the Sooners on Saturday, gaining 192 net rushing yards and two touchdowns.

Williams could have easily had a third TD run but chose instead to slide down at the Sooner seven-yard line and keep the clock moving after breaking off a 43-yard run on a critical third-down play late in the fourth quarter to seal the win for the Bears.

Asked why he chose to pull up and not take the ball to the end zone on his 43-yard dash with still a little over two minutes remaining in the game, Williams had this to say in the postgame interview session:

"“Just trying to be a team player and understanding the situation,” he said. “We practice these things all the time in practice. Just understanding that I didn’t need to score and give OU the ball back.”"

Saturday’s breakout performance was easily Williams’ best game in his four-year career at Baylor. It was a gritty, gutsy performance by a true competitor who was ready to seize the opportunity afforded him on Saturday. Williams had almost as many carries on Saturday (25) as he had in the last three years combined (32).

The Baylor offensive line deserves some of the credit for creating running lanes, and Williams took care of the rest.

"“They (the Baylor O-line) physically got after us a number of times,” Venables said, “and we got swallowed up. They have a good offensive line and they punish you if you make a mistake.”"

And what about all the OU preparation for Richard Reese? He did see action in the game, but only very sparingly. He had only four rushing attempts for a net-seven yards.

As for how Williams acquired the nickname “Sqwirl,” the story is that when he was six years old, his grandfather told him he would cook him a dinner and buy him donuts the next day if he could catch a squirrel in a cage. I stood in there maybe 15 or 30 minutes, Williams said, before I caught a squirrel.

Oklahoma certainly wasn’t able to catch Williams much on Saturday.