Gundy says Jones, freshmen will play in opener

Oklahoma Running Backs Coach Cale Gundy talks about the progress of KeJuan Jones (pictured left) and true freshmen Adrian Peterson and D.J. Wolfe heading into Saturday's season opener against Bowling Green.

Oklahoma Running Back Coach Cale Gundy has had some tough decisions to make as far as playing time in the Sooner backfield. And recently after practice, Coach Gundy stopped long enough to talk to OUInsider for the Two Minute Drill.

JH: You have never had this much depth at OU. Have all seven running backs been able to practice this last week?

CG: "I haven't been able to get all seven guys back, but I got a bunch of them back. We got a bunch of guys back that I think are going to play and they have looked pretty good. I am still waiting to see just where Tashard Choice is."

JH: Has KeJuan Jones continued to progress? And how does he look going into the opening game?

CG: "I think he has done well, but I think his situation is something that we run into every year. You practice for two to three weeks and the guys are tired of practicing against one another and they are ready to play somebody else. However, that is where leadership becomes important during practice. Some guys have to step up and push the practice and make sure that you have good solid practices. KeJuan has been that guy on offense for us. He has practiced well and put himself into a position to be successful and have a good year."

JH: You have always had a main running back and a short-yardage running back in the past, but you have said that doesn't have to be the case. What will you try to do this year?

CG: "I am starting to lean more to the fact that these running backs take a lot of punishment throughout the season and you have to be able to keep guys healthy and keep them fresh. You have to keep them on the field, and I think it has been proven over the last couple of years that having a couple of guys that do something different or maybe specialize, then you can keep guys on the field more and keep them healthier. That may be something that we look at. Again, we are still not there yet because of some injuries. We still need some reps to find out who those guys are going to be."

JH: Who is going to see action in the opening game?

CG: "I have an idea who is going to play for us and we are still trying to figure out where they all fit in. I want to keep these guys fresh, but I want to put the guys out there that have deserved it, guys that are going to push us into a position to win the game. KeJuan has definitely put himself into a position to be a starter. There is not a guy who worked harder in the offseason, and there is nobody that has had more reps than KeJuan. I think he is going to be a great player for us.

"I think a young guy, D.J. Wolfe, has had a great two-a-days and a great camp. He had a great spring and even though he is a young player and still learning he has put himself into a position to help us. You look at Adrian Peterson, and how much he plays will depend on how strong his shoulder is and how healthy he is going to be. Donta Hickson has been a solid player and will always be a solid player for us. Tashard Choice has been the guy who has been kind of banged up. So, there are three or four guys in there, but in the first game we are going to play two or three (Jones, D.J. and AD). I want to make sure who we play has earned it and can help us win the most in game one."

JH: Are you a little hesitant to play D.J. because of the redshirt possibility?

CG: "No, not at all. We play the best players at Oklahoma and we always have. It doesn't matter how old they are or where they are from. If he can do some things better than KeJuan or AD, then he is going to play. Again, he is a true freshman, but he has been here for eight months and he has progressed a little bit more than most true freshmen have."

JH: How much has Jason's improved mobility help the running game?

CG: "I think when people see him move around this year, be able to scramble and make some plays with his feet. I think there will be some times when we will have some quarterback draws and some options that open up our running game a little bit."

JH: How have you guarded AD and D.J. against the hype of Sooner football?

CG: "It is just the rules that we have here that we restrict them from talking to the media and press until they start to see some playing time. Those guys still have to go out and earn their stripes on the field. There has been a lot of hype, but we keep them away from the media so they don't get caught up in that. They are still trying to adapt to going to school and the learning environment, yet lifting at 6:00 a.m. because they are true freshman and that is what they do here. During their learning process, we teach them what to expect and then expose them to it little by little."

JH: Don't they get hammered by students on campus about their expectations?

CG: "Yeah, but D.J. has already been here six months and he has already been to school. AD is just a little bit different than most freshmen. That kid wants to play and both of those guys don't see themselves as true freshmen.They think they are football players and they have no fear on the field. They are both very mature. I have been very impressed with both of them. We still have a long way to go, but I have been very impressed with both of them."

JH: How much have you been able to work AD back in. Has he been able to go through a full scale practice yet?

CG: "He has been back in it for the last two or three days. He hasn't had any 100 percent tackling against him, but he has had some blows in inside drills and he has pass protected some. Defensive backs have run into him and linebackers have wrapped him up, so he fills good. It is just a thing where we have a little precautionary deal, but I am very confident he will be 100 percent and ready to go against Bowling Green."

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