Cramps Proving Problematic For Oklahoma's Patrick

Wednesday, October 10th 2007, 3:53 pm
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ Of all the players on the roster for No. 6 Oklahoma, starting tailback Allen Patrick has the third-lowest body fat. As admirable of an achievement as that sounds, it might be exactly what's kept him off the field late in two of the Sooners' biggest games.

Patrick missed almost the entire second half of Oklahoma's 28-21 victory against Texas on Saturday when cramps struck him on a rush for a 3-yard loss on the Sooners' first offensive play after halftime.

``My body kind of locked up pretty good,'' Patrick said. ``It just wasn't cramps in my legs, it was like a full body cramp. I couldn't hardly get over that. I was over there on the sidelines trying to push down a lot of fluids, but at the same time it just wasn't ever coming back to me.''

Running backs coach Cale Gundy said he believes Patrick's body fat _ which was measured at 4.9 percent _ has been a bad combination with high humidity in Oklahoma's games against Miami and Texas. At kickoff of the Red River Rivalry, it was 78 degrees with 88 percent humidity.

``Any time you have not very much body fat and you get in those very hot, humid days, I think it can affect you,'' Gundy said.

Patrick was a crucial part of Oklahoma's 26-10 win last year at Missouri, the Sooners' opponent this week. He carried the ball on 35 of Oklahoma's 71 offensive plays and gained 157 yards.

``I guess I just need to hydrate my body a little bit more,'' Patrick said. ``Going out there and there being humidity out there and the heat takes a toll on your body, you never know when that's going to come along.''

After a sprained ankle required Patrick to wear a boot for a couple weeks in training camp, the treatment regimen is a little different this time.

``If we can get some bananas in him and get him to not cramp, he'll be fine,'' Sooners coach Bob Stoops said.


SCOUTING BRADFORD: Long before he was named the Sooners' starting quarterback, redshirt Sam Bradford made an impression on Stoops with his performance on the scout team.

Stoops recalls watching film with his defensive staff last year when one of Bradford's passes caught their eye.

``He drops it in right where it needs to be, and we're like, `Geez, this guy is pretty good,''' said Stoops, a former defensive coordinator. ``And the offensive guys aren't getting to see him as much. So I go in to the offense and say, `You guys ought to see this ball,' and they're like, `Are you sure?'

``I said, `Hey, I'm no quarterback coach, but I know when I see a good ball.'''

Stoops has seen plenty more of those passes this year. Bradford is the nation's top-rated passer, completing 71 percent of his passes for 1,423 yards and 18 touchdowns with only four interceptions.


SPECIAL OR NOT?: Here's a telltale sign that Oklahoma's kickoff coverage unit hasn't been performing consistently at its best: Kicker Garrett Hartley has five tackles, including three in the past two weeks.

Over their first four games, the Sooners had been limiting opponents to only 18.9 yards per kickoff return. Since Big 12 play started, that average is up to 27.4 yards per return.

``We were doing really good at special teams at the beginning of the year, and we need to step that back up. That's a big part of the game,'' said linebacker Lewis Baker, a member of the coverage unit. ``I think we did OK in the Texas game, but we could have done a lot better. That's just as important as offense or defense.''

With the combination of short kickoffs and long returns, Texas started three of its five possessions after Oklahoma kickoffs at 40-yard line or beyond.

``We've got some guys that aren't holding up. It just happens. They've been there to make plays and didn't make them,'' Stoops said. ``And then we've had some guys that are allowing themselves to be blocked, they're not getting themselves in the position we try in practice to get.

``We've got to make some changes there or get some guys who can get it done and coach it a little better.''

Stoops said he also planned to use some close-up camera shots this week to analyze Hartley's kicking motion after he hooked another field goal attempt wide left. Hartley has missed two of his last three kicks.

However, Stoops said it would be too broad of a statement to characterize all of the Sooners' special teams as performing poorly. Oklahoma leads the Big 12 with a 28-yard kickoff return average.