Offseason Insider: Q&A with Chuck Long

OU's Offensive Coordinator says the QB race is still open, despite Jason White being named the starter

James Hale recently sat down with OU's Offensive Coordinator to talke about the Sooners' quarterbacks and last weeks decision to name Jason White the starter.

JH: Chuck, last week you released a depth chart for your quarterbacks. You normally don't like to do depth charts, so what's the reason for doing that this summer?

CL: "We just feel that each year is different. We felt it was necessary to do it right now and get it done, as opposed to going into the fall with it. Bob and I have worked together and talked about it, so that's where we are right now.

"We just felt like that's where it's at right now. Depth charts are good for the media and fans at times, but that doesn't necessarily mean that everything is set in stone for us. It's a starting point and we have to start somewhere, but it's still an open game. I've been around the game too long to know that if you start off with those depth charts you often see somebody emerge from No. 3 or No. 2. Those things can change daily, weekly, by the scrimmage. It's just a starting point and that's the way you have to look at it."

JH: To prove your point, during the history of OU, while you were quarterbacking at Iowa Steve Davis went from the ninth quarterback to No. 1 in a matter of weeks. Thomas Lott went from the sixth quarterback to No. 1 by the fourth game of the season.

CL: "Those are great examples, and it happens all the time. It happens all the time on every level, and that's why we look at it, as a coaching staff, as a starting point. And then from there you just see what happens."

JH: It seemed that Brent Rawls had a great spring throwing the football. This is not to question who ended up where on the depth chart, but can you talk about what intangibles it takes to be the starting quarterback at Oklahoma?

CL: "We, as coaches, are involved with them in their daily lives — what they do in the classroom and what they do on and off the field. When you're a coach you see the whole picture more than anyone else in the whole state or country. You get to know your players on an individual basis. When it comes to the quarterback position there's a lot more than knowing the X's and O's. There's the intangibles of leadership, the intangibles of work ethic, smarts, taking care of the football. There's a lot of different things that go into that position, which brings that position a lot of value."

"So, we look at the whole thing and determine our decisions based on that. There's a lot that goes into it that you don't always see on the field in say a scrimmage or a practice."

JH: I talked to Jason White last week and he says that's he's almost there (physically). He also told me that he cuts and runs in seven-on-seven drills. I didn't get to see those drills, and I know you didn't either, but when he told me that I thought it was great news.

CL: "It is great news. I think Jason is progressing very well. With any knee injury there might be setbacks along the way, but Jason's work ethic is so strong and he rehabs so well that we feel strongly he's going to be there ready to go come Aug. 30."

JH: He also said that he was throwing every pass.

CL: "From what I understand, he's been there and has thrown every pass."

JH: It looked like to me he could throw every pass in the spring. Is that a further development this summer or was he already doing that in the spring?

CL: "He did more this spring than he did the previous spring. We feel he's further along this spring then he was last spring."

JH: One question about Paul Thompson. You've always told me that from the first year to the second year quarterbacks improve the most. So with what you saw this spring, how far did Paul Thompson come from what we saw last year?

CL: "We feel that he's come a long way from last year. Last year he was sort of thrown into the fire as a true freshmen learning on the run, but he got some valuable reps as a backup and that paid off for him in the spring. The one intangible that Paul will bring you is his running ability. That's the one thing you don't set up to see in spring football. That's the one variance that you don't get in spring ball that you get to count on when you get in the ball game. That's the tricky part for a coach, because you don't know what he can do with the football because you don't allow him to. So, you have to have that variance in the back of your mind that he can go in there and do those kinds of things for you."

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