NORMAN, Okla. — The Sooner running game has begun to take off just like it did a year ago. In fact, at this point Donta Hickson has emerged to give the Sooners a third running back to add into the mix. It will be up to former Sooner quarterback great and current running back coach Cale Gundy to find playing time for Hickson and KeJuan Jones behind starter Renaldo Works. Tuesday, at practice, I sat down with Coach Gundy for the OUInsider Two Minute Drill.
JH: You threw Hickson into the mix at running back and he responded in excellent fashion against Missouri. You have always said that right now there are great players waiting to play at OU, so is this an example of what you are talking about?
CG: "I think we are getting into a position where guys want to come here and they want to compete. I think that has been the way ever since Bob has been here. Whenever a job is secured by anybody coming out of spring football or coming into a season, we always have other players who are working hard and continuing to improve. We want to play the best guys that are the most consistent and give us the best chance to win. That goes for each and every week. We felt like Donta had been having some good practices and was taking advantage of some opportunities, so we gave Donta a chance and he came out Saturday and he played well."
JH: You have competition each week and at every single practice, isn't that right?
CG: "That is exactly right. You have to come and prepare each and every practice. If you want to win you have to come out here and prepare every single day. You have to play good and if you practice well during the week you will play well on Saturday."
JH: Did Donta show against Missouri that he can help you the rest of the season?"
CG: "There is not doubt that Donta can help us. He has some speed and some burst. Donta was a great runner in high school and I think he was just in a situation where he needed to become more consistent, and now we are feeling more confident with him. There are certain situations where my backs can fit into. My running backs are different in certain ways and one back may be better in one particular situation than the other guys. I don't have a problem giving all of them opportunities, and if they do well while they are in there then I may let them go a little bit longer."
JH: Is it a case where Renaldo is the starter and the other two will split the remaining reps behind him?
CG: "We feel like Renaldo has definitely been proven and he is playing well for us this year. He is definitely the starter and I think with the offense and where we are going with that it that it includes more I-formation, which suits Renaldo as he is a good downhill runner and a very solid pass protector. We have a lot of confidence in Renaldo and he is definitely the guy. Then, whoever is playing the best among KeJuan and Donta will spell him in games."
JH: It looks like all three running backs can run out of all of your formations, so you don't have to give your plays up to the defense by substituting for a particular situation. If you wanted to couldn't you just go with the running back that you have in the game?
CG: "That is correct and I think we showed that last Saturday by putting Donta in the game and leaving him in despite the situation. There might have been a couple of plays last week where we felt that Donta looked better running those plays. Again, he looked very good last week and had some outstanding practices. We let him stay in there and we didn't care what the formations were."
JH: What are your thoughts on Colorado? They blitz a lot so what kind of pressure will that put on your running backs?
CG: "We go against our defense every day in team blitz and our guys come at us extremely hard and at full speed. Our running backs know that in order for us to be successful we have to be able to pass protect. We have seen just about anything that any defense is going to give us, because we go against our own defense everyday. Going against our own defense prepares us for anything we are going to see on Saturday. And then our scout team gives us a great look to familiarize us even more."
Two Minute Drill: Cale Gundy
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