he Sooner defensive ends are playing outstanding football heading into the Colorado game, and the Sooner front four is the best at Oklahoma since Bob Stoops has been the head coach. OU defensive end coach Bobby Jack Wright sat down to talk about his defensive end group and the front-four in our latest addition of the Two Minute Drill.
JH: The BCS is out and you guys are No. 1. The players really don't pay any attention to it do they?
BJW: "At this stage in the game it really doesn't make any difference where you are at because any of the people in the top 10 to 15 all still have a chance. As we have said many times over the last several years while we have been in this position, is that it is a great compliment to be playing well and that has been recognized. People recognize that our program is at the top level in the country, but the bottom line is that we have to continue to go out and win football games, and winning this Saturday against Colorado is the only thing that counts. Then when you get through the end of the season and December rolls around; if we are undefeated and still ranked No. 1 or No. 1 in the BCS, then that is when it really counts."
JH: "You have to be very happy about the performance of your defensive ends against Missouri."
BJW: "We have talked about that a bunch and we are really pleased how our guys are playing and the pressure that we are getting from the entire front four. They are all playing well, but especially Dan Cody who has been playing exceptional. He got dinged up a little bit against Missouri and has a bad ankle, so it doesn't look like he is going to play this week against Colorado. However, Jonathan Jackson and Larry Birdine continue to play extremely well also. Jonathan was a key in the game, because people don't realize that Missouri was a big bootleg team and they came out early and tried to bootleg us three or four times and JJ pulled up every one of them immediately. So, JJ took Missouri out of that aspect of their game. Larry continues to improve and I am happy with his progress. Calvin Thibodeaux has shown improvement and he needed to. It is coming at a good time, because he will have to play a lot of snaps for us in Dan's absence, and he will have to play well."
JH: If I am not mistaken, won't this be Thibs' first extensive action of the season?
BJW: "Yeah, pretty much. We have tried to play him at the end of every ballgame thus far, to get him some experience, some snaps and some playing time. However, he will have to hold his own this weekend and he will have to play at the level that we expect him to play."
JH: Your depth is going to be tested in this game because you have several players battling some bumps and bruises don't you?
BJW: "You're exactly right. Our depth is going to be tested, but also our character of our team is going to be tested. I think they will respond well. And when I say that I realize that we will have young guys who haven't played much like Calvin Thibodeaux, who will have to play a major role this weekend. They are going to have to play well. Our linebacking corp is dinged up as well and the guys that are backing them up are going to have to step up. That is not unusual in college football as everybody is a little dinged up at this time of year. After seven or eight weeks into the season we just happened to catch it this week. I think our young guys will understand the importance of what their role is and they will come to the front on Saturday."
JH: "Your recruiting has been so good that you have to feel pretty confident in your young players, even if they don't have much experience?
BJW: "Hopefully we haven't brought in any player that is void of talent, because that would mean that we haven't done a very good job of recruiting. However, you are right in that we do have guys with talent, but the experience factor isn't going to be there. That is the thing that you are always a little leery of. You are always wondering how a new guy is going to do. The new guys do have talent and they are athletic and guys who can run. They won't have the experience of say a Don Cody has, or a Wayne Chambers or even a Lance Mitchell who was lost several weeks back. However, they will play hard and we just hope we can keep their mistakes to a minimum."
JH: What do you think about Colorado and the fact they are throwing the ball more?
BJW: "They are a little bit different offensively, but I will tell you as we look at them on the defensive side of the ball evaluating their offense, they are moving the football and scoring points. Scoring points has not been their problem as their running back (Brian Calhoun) had over 100 yards against us in the Big 12 Championship game, and he has always impressed us. We watched him on tape this week and he is explosive and makes great runs against everybody they've played, including UCLA. He is a good runner.
"In their throwing game they have good receivers and Jeremy Bloom is one of them. He is also their return guy and he is one of the fastest players in the country. So, they have some dangerous guys in the wide receiver position. They are still trying to run their zone running game, but maybe not with as much power as they have in the passed. They are still throwing it around to various receivers and they are still getting that ball to Brian Calhoun and still scoring points. It looks like where they have been a little bit deficient is with their defense as they are giving up a lot of points. We are approaching the game from the defensive side of the game that we are going to be in for a test."
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