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NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops has raved all season about his team's three-headed monster at running back.
His prized depth took its first on-the-field hit Saturday night. Stoops said Keith Ford will miss at least a week after breaking a bone in his right leg in a win over Tennessee. Stoops said it is a small, slight fracture on the non-weight-bearing fibula that will keep him out of Saturday's game at West Virginia.
"That'll be a week-to-week," said Stoops, who did not indicate which leg was injured. "That could be two weeks, three weeks, it's always a little bit hard to tell, depending on how it heals, so we'll just have to wait and see how that goes. For sure, he won't be able to play this week."
Ford led the fourth-ranked Sooners with 194 yards rushing through three games and was one of the team's top receivers with 100 yards on six catches. Against Tennessee, he ran for 56 yards and a touchdown and caught a 23-yard touchdown pass. He leads the Big 12 in scoring with 36 points, and in touchdowns, with six.
Oklahoma entered the season down a running back. The Sooners suspended highly touted incoming freshman Joe Mixon for the season after he was charged with misdemeanor assault. Stoops said adjustments come with the territory.
"It happens that way," he said. "I remember back in '99, Quentin Griffin, we had to pull out of a redshirt in the fifth or sixth game to play. Definitely, you need a bunch of running backs when you go through a long year."
Alex Ross and Samaje Perine will pick up Ford's carries. Ross, a sophomore speedster, has rushed for 132 yards, including an 82-yard touchdown run against Tulsa. Stoops said he expects Ross to start because of experience. Perine, a 5-foot-10, 243-pound bruiser, has rushed for 177 yards on 32 carries.
Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight feels comfortable with both of them.
"Samaje has done a great job," Knight said. "I think all three of those guys are ready to step in at any time that they are called upon and do great things. You've seen through the first three games that all of them have the big-play threat and can run the ball effectively and do what we need to do in our offense."
Perine excels beyond just running the ball.
"He's a really bright young guy that's playing really well," Stoops said. "Yeah, he knows what he's doing in everything he's doing."
David Smith or Daniel Brooks will move into the third running back spot. Knight also is capable of helping the rushing production.
Ford said in the week before the Tennessee game that the running backs all pull for each other.
"We're a group, all three of us running backs," he said. "We help each other out and make sure we're doing our best, makes sure we're running hard. Even when you're standing on the sideline, you've got to be ready."
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