Coach sees simularities between UA and OU

The newest Wildcat football assistant coach is Josh Heupel. He's a former Oklahoma quarterback who led the program to a national championship. After a short stint in the NFL he turned to coaching. He joined the staff in January and sees a lot of parallels between this program and the Oklahoma program he helped turn around.

The following is an exclusive interview that Josh Heupel granted to Wildcat Insider Magazine. The interview originally ran in the July 2005 issue, which is still available on newsstands across Southern Arizona or by subscription.

Wildcat Insider: How has the move to Arizona been?

Josh Heupel: "It's been good to me. I've been working with the offensive line to prepare me for this. I enjoy the opportunity and being in Tucson."

WI: What's the biggest difference in being a grad assistant and being a position coach?

Heupel: "The biggest difference is when you're in the meeting room you're in control of those kids and responsible for the end product Saturday afternoon at that position. As a graduate assistant you put in as many hours, but it's not your stamp on the final product.



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"As a graduate assistant, I did a lot of groundwork and participated in a lot of film watching and initial conservations with courses. I enjoy being here from the get-go, and I think I'll really enjoy being a part of the end product and getting to know the student-athletes. Once they come in your program you're part of that as well. I think the difference will be being a part of the whole thing and developing relationships as you go."

WI: Do many kids remember you from your playing days at Oklahoma?

Heupel: "Some do. Some don't. Coaches do. A lot of them do, especially in the areas I'm trying to recruit, they remember me."

WI: You've had a crazy career that has taken you from South Dakota to the Big 12 to the NFL. Does having seen so many different things help you as a coach?

Heupel: "I've seen it all. I grew up in a small place with a lot of great high school football. I moved through I-AA, junior college and to a position to win a national championship. I've seen the good, the bad and everything in between. With my experiences I can relate to a lot of different types of kids and the steps they've had to take. To show those experiences and some of those things along the path to the NFL is something I hope the kids can appreciate."

WI: You were there for the rebuilding process at Oklahoma. What can you bring to Arizona's rebuilding efforts?

Heupel: "I was at Oklahoma from the very beginning of the recruiting. I stepped on campus in January when those guys took over. I saw the price you had to pay to be good and win national championships, to win conference championships, to put yourself in position to compete at your best every week, which is what you have to do in a great conference like the Pac-10, and put yourself in position to reach your ultimate goals, which is win a conference championship and national championship. Understanding what it took in the locker room will help me as a coach, and hopefully make me a good addition to Coach Mike (Stoops) and the staff."

WI: How close is the program to turning around?

Heupel: "From where the program was in January and where they are now is one part of development. The strength and conditioning program is important, and ours is as good as anywhere in the country. They're doing a great job with the student-athletes we have now, and the players we have coming in. I think the program is definitely headed in the right direction, and you'll see us take a huge jump this year.

We ended up where we need to be. When we step foot at the University of Utah on opening day we will have made big strides. We continually need to get bigger and stronger. Fundamentally we did some things to get better. Those guys have a plan in front of them right now. Hopefully we'll be where we need to be."

WI: Could you break down your players and what you saw from them in the spring?

Heupel: Brandyn (McCall) is a kid who weighed 230 when he got here. He's at 247 now. I don't know if there's anyone willing to work harder than him to be ready to play on Saturday afternoon. He's willing to pay the price. He's fundamentally a ways from where he needs to be, but his fundamentals are coming along and physically he's ready to play. He's getting stronger in the weight room.

"(Ryan Kilpatrick) is a guy who needs to take a huge step this fall. Physically he's as gifted as anyone we have in the group. He's 250, he runs a 4.6, low 4.7s, he's got good hands. For him it's putting the whole puzzle together to be successful. Our group needs to continue to learn how to compete every day and every play.

"Brad Wood is more consistent than anybody right now and is developing into a leader. He needs to continue that. He does a great job in preparation. He prepares himself as well as anybody. He has good hands; he runs great routes. He weighs about 225, but he needs to get a little bigger. I don't know if his body will allow (him to block), but he'll play with good pad level and good fundamental technique. He's a guy who needs to step up and have a good year for us.

"Adam Grant is a big, physical kid who looks really good, better than when I saw him in January. If he can grasp some things quickly, he might be able to help us in some specific situations this fall.

WI: What differences will the fans be able to see in the unit?

Heupel: In the run game, hopefully we do a better job than we did a year ago. We need to be more physical. We need to cut the edge of the defense off and let our running backs do a great job in space. We hold the key to a lot of our run game. I think we'll be more involved in the passing game. There are some kids who can get some mismatches on the field and we need to get them the ball."


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