Sooners say they won't miss injured tailback

Published: Saturday, January 3, 2009 at 7:14 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 3, 2009 at 7:14 p.m.

FORT LAUDERDALE Sophomore running back DeMarco Murray accounted for more than 20 percent of Oklahoma's all-purpose yards this season.

Yet ask Oklahoma tight end Jermaine Gresham about Murray's absence for Thursday's BCS title showdown with Florida, and you'll get an interesting response.

"Half the time, we don't know who is behind us blocking anyway," Gresham said. "So we're going to just go out there and keep going, executing, let whoever is running the ball read the holes and make the reads.

"Hopefully it will take care of itself."

Murray, out after having surgery to repair a tendon in his hamstring, was one of two 1,000-yard rushers for the Sooners this season. Still, Oklahoma expects its no-huddle offense to remain balanced behind leading rusher Chris Brown (1,110 yards, 21 TDs) and third-stringer Mossis Madu (463 yards, 6 TDs).

The 5-foot-11, 210-pound Brown, from Southeastern Conference territory (Alexandria, La.), is more smash than the flash of the fleet-footed Murray.

"DeMarco, he makes those flashy cuts, he's a like a Reggie Bush-kind-of-a-runner," Brown said. "I'll take that LenDale White. He can catch the ball great out of the backfield like Reggie Bush, and he's that type of guy that can make something small into a big, huge play. I think I'm probably more conservative and patient on waiting for things to develop."

Brown said that Murray's absence may be felt even more on special teams and in the passing game. Murray led Oklahoma running backs in catches (31) and receiving yards (395) during the regular season. He also returned 28 kicks for 774 yards.

"He's just not a guy that you can sweep under the rug and say, 'Well, OK, you got another guy,' " Brown said. "He brought a lot to the table. Me and Mossis Madu, we have to make up for what he left."

Brown and Madu did just that when Murray sat out Big 12 title game against Missouri. Madu (6-foot, 196 pounds) showed flashes of his potential, rushing for 114 yards and three touchdowns on 7.6 yards per carry. Brown rushed for a team-high 122 yards.

"It gives us a lot of confidence," Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford said. "We see it from Mossis every day in practice. The Big 12 Championship was one of his first opportunities to show everyone else how good he is so it really didn't surprise us the way he played. We expect him to come out here and play really well again."

Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said that Murray's absence hasn't impacted the game plan.

"I'm expecting for us to do what we do," Wilson said. "Typically we just adjust to what the defense is doing and if we can execute and stay on the field, we'll have more plays. The changes will be how we attack Florida's defense because each defense is different. That's really more the challenge than (Murray) not being there."

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