Q&A with Josh Heupel

Former Sooner Quarterback Josh Heupel (pictured left with Jason White) talks about his graduate assistant job and his expectations for White and the Oklahoma offense in 2004.

The greatness of Josh Heupel the quarterback will never be forgotten. His play during the Sooners National Championship run of 2000 was phenomenal and his ability to direct the Sooner offense gave the program a two-year jumpstart on the move from the running game to the passing offense.

It seemed to be a forgone conclusion that Heupel would some day be a coach, but first he dreamed of playing in the NFL. However, a damaged wrist negated that opportunity and he jumped at a chance to be a Graduate Assistant at OU. Heupel enters his second year in that capacity and it is only a matter of time before he is on some staff, somewhere on a fulltime basis.

Recently, Heupel sat down with OUInsider.com for the Two Minute Drill.

OUINSIDER: You are one of the greatest quarterbacks in OU history yet you started you coaching career assisting Kevin Wilson in the offensive line. Why?

HEUPEL: "I am there because that is where Coach Stoops told me to go (Heupel says with a laugh). Actually, this just made sense for me, because as an assistant coach you have to know how to coach all positions. I grew up with my father on the defensive side of the ball and when I went over on offense I always hung around the pretty guys — you know the quarterbacks and wide receivers.

"I think the toughest position to coach is the offensive line because of the incredible demands of the position. I always respected guys that played in the offense line, but I never played any position in the offensive line so I didn't have the understanding of the position that you might think that I would.

"Working with Coach Wilson has been great and I have learned a great deal. However, don't think that I don't sneak over to Coach Long's (quarterback) or Coach Gundy's (running backs) every once in a while, and I am no stranger in Coach Wyatt's (wide receiver) either."

OUINSIDER: You were an incredibly intelligent player, but does that always mean those types of players will be great coaches?

HEUPEL: "Hey, you were right in that intelligent player statement (again Heupel says with a laugh). I think as a quarterback you understand a lot of schemes, protections and that type of thing, but you don't get to dive into the detail and the mechanics of the different positions. That is especially true of the offensive line, so for me to get a greater understanding and a great feel for that position — this has been great for me.

"This entire staff is extremely talented and has great futures in front of them. But for me, being able to spend a great deal of time with Coach Wilson has been fantastic. He is the very best offensive line coach in the country and I can learn so much from him."

OUINSIDER: You are going into your second year as a graduate assistant, right?

HEUPEL: "Yeah, that is correct. Like I said the majority of my time is spent with the offensive line, but I still kick back to the quarterback spot from time-to-time and I enjoy spending time with the tight ends and fullbacks. I divide my time between those three positions and it is a great opportunity for me."

OUINSIDER: Do you ever talk to the defensive coaches or players?

HEUPEL: "I get to work with those guys on an individual basis during the season when I am running scout team. That is about enough for me."

OUINSIDER: What is your take on the direction of the Sooner offense?

Heupel: "One thing that is great about Coach Long and our offensive staff is that they are never satisfied and they never sit still. They are always looking to add things to the offense that makes the offense more diversified and more unique.

"We worked hard on the running game and on the play of the tight end this past spring, and that will only balance out our offense even more. We have established a great passing offense here at Oklahoma and we have run the ball well at times over the last few years. Last year we were pretty good at running the ball, but we can do better. I think this spring we showed that we will run the ball better next year. I think next year could be our best year for our offense when you consider all the talent that we have back and what we have added to our offensive scheme."

OUINSIDER: Do you feel that Jason White can have a better offensive year next year than he had in winning the Heisman Trophy?

HEUPEL: "It will be very hard to beat the numbers that he posted last year, but if anybody can do it he can. He will be healthier than he was last year, in better shape and he will have a better offense around him. Our running game will be more productive next year, which will open up our passing game even more. Jason threw the ball very well in the spring and his work ethic is tremendous. I don't have any doubt that he is going to have another great year next season."

OUINSIDER: Do you eventually see yourself as a head coach on the D-1 level?

HEUPEL: "I just want to be an assistant coach first. The pay is a whole lot better than my current position. This is not an easy profession to break into. I know some great coaches who have never had the chance to coach at a great place like Oklahoma. Sure, my goals are some day to be a head coach, but I can't get ahead of myself and I can't even think about that.

"I need to learn all I can this next year as a graduate assistant and then get out there and get an assistant coaching job somewhere. I would love for that to be at Oklahoma, but currently there are no openings at Oklahoma, and until there is you can't think about coaching at OU. I believe if I work hard and take care of my business that things will work out for me in the long run, or at least I hope so."

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories