NORMAN, Okla. – Chuck Long enters his second year as the Sooners Offensive Coordinator, and finally we will begin to see a few of the wrinkles that show the personality of Long and his run game coordinator Kevin Wilson. I had a chance to sit down with Coach Long earlier this week for another version of the two minute drill.
JH: You've made adjustments in the offense and added a few wrinkles, so will you have more fun calling plays against North Texas with some new stuff to call?
CL: "It is going to be fun and I have a great time with it. We have an excellent staff on offense that we bounce a lot of great ideas off of. The great thing about our staff is that when we gameplan, we gameplan together. There are a lot of coordinators that don't do that, but we plan together. I have a lot of great minds in that room and it is nice to get those ideas. When we set the plan, it is set and we don't deviate much from it. It is already right there in front of you and it is just a matter of calling the right play in the right situation.
"I also get excellent feedback during the course of a game. Everything goes through me and I want it to be that way so that it takes the pressure off of them. If they feel good about a certain play during the course of a game, and I use the play I want them to feel comfortable with that. Everything goes through me so I want them to have confidence to call that play. If everything goes through me and doesn't work, and the head coach wants to talk about a bad play then I take the responsibility because ultimately I sent the play in. I don't want them to worry about that."
JH: So you don't pass the buck on a bad play?
CL: "No, but if it is a good play then I will let everybody know which coach it is from. If it is a bad play, I won't say anything.
JH: I want to complement you, because you made the transition to offensive coordinator real smooth with your Run Game Coordinator Kevin Wilson because you really don't have any ego. Coach Wilson received a lot of publicity last year for coming over from Northwestern and that didn't seem to bother you a bit, despite the fact you were the offensive coordinator. Did it bother you that so much attention was being paid to your assistant coaches?
CL: "You have to check your ego at the door here. That is paramount if you are going to work for Coach (Bob) Stoops. I have always grown up that way. I was raised that way and it is a team effort. I know that is an old cliché and everything, but for one guy to go in there and gameplan by himself, and do it all by himself, and keep guys down or at bay and not use there ideas, is not good for the staff. That kind of situation gets destructive. I just believe being inclusive with everybody and I love being around these guys for one.
"It just makes it so much better as far as ideas. I never pretended that I was the most knowledgeable guy in football. I will never be that way, because you are always learning. So, it is important for me that you keep everybody together and make them feel welcome when they get here."
JH: You have 25 seconds between plays, which isn't a lot of time,,, so how many plays have you called in your mind ahead of time so that you can get plays in on time?
CL: "You are always thinking ahead. It is kind of like playing chess. From the top of the press box the players really look like chess pieces down there. They make their move and you make your move kind. You are always thinking ahead, but at the same time you have to be able to call the play in front of you that you feel good about. There are times when things change. You have everything on a plan, but you go with your gut at times. You just say that I really have a good feeling about this and you go with it."
JH: Have you ever called a play and one of your quarterbacks turned around and said ‘What', like they have no clue what you just called?
CL: "I try not to that is for sure. I try to give them a plan that we don't deviate from, unless we talk about it first. As far as calling a play that they didn't have any idea about, no, that has never happened. However, on the sideline I always want to get into a habit of talking about something new first and say this is what we are going to do at halftime or in the second half. That way it is not a surprise to them. I have been in those situations when I was playing quarterback, when the play comes in and you say to your guys that hey, I don't know what this is, but we are going to try to run it anyway. I always tell my quarterbacks that all the great quarterbacks to find a way to make it work. They may complain at first, but they find a way to make it work."
JH: How confident are you about this offense this year?
CL: "We feel good about it. I have said it every year, and that is that every year is a different year of offensive football as far as jelling and chemistry. We are still jelling right now as an offensive unit. I think we are all anticipating our first game and waiting to see what we have out there in our first game. Every year we start over. We have a lot of new guys out there who haven't had a lot of starts under their belts, so we had to continually talk to them and get around them chemistry wise. Getting them to jell is really more important for an offensive unit than just X's and O's."
JH: Jason White is finally back as the starter after last year's knee injury. Isn't the key now to just get him more reps?
CL: "He can be very good and I think you hit the nail on the head. We need to get a couple games under his belt. Anybody that has gone a couple of games and gotten hurt knows that you get that mental block. We need to get Jason past that thing and he will sail after that."
JH: Quentin Griffin graduated, so is your running game going to be different this year or at least set up differently?
CL: "It will be a little bit, but I want to see what we have with Renaldo (Works), KeJuan (Jones) and Donta (Hickson) and those guys. With a running game you are always working those bugs out as the season goes along. We have a pretty good idea where the strength of these guys are, and we have tailored our running game to fit them just a little bit."
JH: Going into the season you and Coach Stoops said that this year's offensive line would be the best in the Stoops era. Now, two starters have been changed for the season opener, so is that a positive for the offensive line or a negative?
CL: "I think it is a positive. I think a lot is put on the offensive line and right now it is a potential situation. We have a lot of potential there. We have guys who have played a lot of games, but we still have two young guards in there in Kelvin Chaisson and Davin Joseph, who we think are going to be really good ball players. We can see ourselves being really, really good. We think it is going to end up being really good this year, but it could be great next year. We still have some guys in there who are young and feeling their way through. I know that Coach Wilson is opening up the tackle spot competitively, and the center spot. That is good for the guys to know that they have to work every day that they are out there. That is what Coach Stoops also says and I think that is a good idea."
JH: What are your thoughts on North Texas and the Mean Green defense?
CL: "They have a good defense. They have played together for a while. They know how to win and they have been conference champs two years in a row. They have some aggressive linebackers and their two safeties are very aggressive. They have a nose tackle that is up for the big awards nationally. They have a good defensive end. They are good and they have a good team."
Two Minute Drill: Offensive Coordinator Chuck Long
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