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Sermon preaches toughness of Oklahoma offense – News – Tuscaloosa News

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — In the second quarter at Texas Tech on Nov. 3, with Oklahoma trailing by 10, Sooners coach Lincoln Riley decided not to put the ball into the hands of his eventual Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback.

While Kyler Murray was lined up in the backfield, the snap instead went directly to sophomore running back Trey Sermon.

Sermon plowed straight ahead after catching the ball at the 10 as he ran straight into Red Raiders defensive back Douglas Coleman III.

“He’s always looking for someone to truck,” Oklahoma defensive lineman Amani Bledsoe said. “He likes the contact, too, which is nice to see in a back.”

Sermon bullied his way into the end zone for the first of his three touchdowns in that game.

The Big 12 is known as a finesse league, but the Sooners’ running back from deep in the heart of SEC country is giving Oklahoma a bit of Southeastern flavor in the backfield heading into Saturday’s Orange Bowl matchup with top-ranked Alabama.

“Once I see the hole, I just try to attack it and be as physical as I can,” Sermon said Wednesday, noting he prides himself on being an SEC-type tailback.

Sermon was banged up for much of the last half of the season, initially sustaining a high ankle sprain against TCU on Oct. 20.

The injury didn’t keep Sermon out of any games, though it limited his effectiveness down the stretch. He did run for a combined 330 yards and five touchdowns in back-to-back wins over Texas Tech and Oklahoma State in November.

Sermon said he finally felt like he was 100 percent last week in practice.

“It felt really good,” Sermon said. “Just kind of knew that I haven’t been completely myself since then (TCU). WIth that change, it’s a good feeling.”

Sermon said he’s bothered by the perception of the Sooners offense as being more speed-based than dominating physically.

“We’ve very physical,” he said. “Our offensive line is the most physical. So it does kind of bother us.

“We match everybody’s physicality. … But we’re just gonna go out there and play our game and show everybody.”

For the second consecutive season, Sermon isn’t the Sooners’ top rusher — Kennedy Brooks holds that title this year — but he’s been a valuable piece both years.

Sermon, who grew up in Marietta, Georgia, on the northwest side of Atlanta, had plenty of opportunities to stay and play in the SEC.

Georgia wanted him. So did Alabama and Florida.

Instead, Sermon decided to get out of the region and bring a little bit of home to Oklahoma.

He even did it against his home-state school in last year’s Rose Bowl when he hit Georgia defensive back Deandre Baker and then pushed him to the turf with his right (ball-carrying) arm.

“That’s how you open up everything else,” Sermon said of running the ball physically. “That’s what we plan to do.”

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