July 20, 2024

Tawee Walker impressing Brent Venables with stellar performances

Oklahoma Sooners Football

Oklahoma running back Tawee Walker (29) carries the ball during the first quarter against Kansas Saturday October 28, 2023 at Memorial Stadium. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Although the Sooners suffered their first loss of the season last Saturday, one of their players took advantage of the spotlight.

Junior running back Tawee Walker made the most out of his 23 carries against Kansas, and raised several eyebrows after he racked up a game-high, 146 yards on the ground and a touchdown. Not to mention 97 of Walker’s rushing yards came in the first half.

Coach Brent Venables used the former Juco like a battering ram throughout the second quarter. After all, Walker’s production was vital to the offense because of a thin backfield. However, freshman Gavin Sawchuk received the start against the Jayhawks. No one didn’t know what to expect from Walker due to the fact that he missed the UCF for personal reasons.

Regardless, the running back room needed someone to step up to the plate with Marcus Major out. Sophomore rusher Javonte Barnes and wideout Jalil Farooq did the best they could with their carries, but Venables thought Walker was a force to be reckoned with when he got his hands on the ball.

The five-foot-nine, 216-pounder is a bruiser and loves contact, but got banged up towards the end of the third quarter and didn’t return. Walker’s absence really limited Venables’ options in the backfield, and Oklahoma (7-1) pretty much abandoned the run in the fourth quarter.

“Tawee had a career high, he was really playing behind his pads well,” Venables said. “Not having those two guys, again that’s part of the game too.”

Venables understands the value that Walker brings to Oklahoma’s offense, and he’s going to need him as the Sooners navigate through the Big 12 meat-grinder. Walker has put together promising outings throughout the season, and leads the team in rushing. He generated two rushing scores apiece in victories over Arkansas State and Texas. Walker eclipsed the century mark in rushing yards in the win over SMU.

That’s why Oklahoma fans are hoping he’ll return back to the lineup as soon as possible. Venables knows Walker is a weapon, and would’ve made a difference in the game if he played that last quarter.

“You hate it for Tawee, he was playing really, really well, and gave us a chance to get back in and get the lead as well,” he said.

With Bedlam looming, Venables is going to need a solid rushing attack to control the pace of the game, open up the play-action pass downfield and keep Oklahoma State’s explosive offense on the sidelines. That’s why practices will likely be intense this week as the Sooners look to stay alive in the Big 12 race. There’s no denying having a healthy Walker will go a long way if Oklahoma wants to reach postseason glory.