Wright says rotation could go back to three

Oklahoma Defensive End Coach Bobby Jack Wright talks about how backup Calvin Thibodeaux's season-ending injury will effect the Sooners' rotation. Wright says the current plan is to rotate Dan Cody (pictured above), Jonathan Jackson and Larry Birdine. (AP Photo/Jerry Laizure)

Before the season started OU defensive end coach Bobby Jack Wright had more depth than at any time since he has been at OU. Early on in Coach Wright's career at OU, he barely had two defensive ends that he felt comfortable in playing, and playing four has always been his goal.

This season he finally had four defensive ends to work with in Dan Cody, Jonathan Jackson, Larry Birdine and Calvin Thibodeaux and all were playing fantastic football. Well, Coach Wright's luck couldn't even last three games as Thibodeaux suffered a torn ACL and is now lost for the season.

How will the Sooners respond? Well, we sat down with the colorful Coach Wright to find out if the four-man rotation drops to three or if one of the young pups get a chance to join the group?

JH: I know you feel very badly for Thibs?

BJW: "Yeah, you hate it for him because he has worked so hard to develop himself and he has turned into a really good football player. He was really playing well and playing at a high level and really contributing and doing some good things for our football team. I really hate it for him personally, but on the bright side you always have to look for something positive. He will have an opportunity to get his redshirt year in here and he will have a couple more years to play. When you have a downer like that you always want to try to find something positive about it that he can hang his hat on and work toward. He will work hard and he will come back. He is dedicated and he will get himself ready to start back up this spring."

JH: You had a great four-man rotation going. Can you keep it at four?

BJW: "I don't know right now. We are working some of the younger guys to see if they can jump in there and give us what we want. Right now I would say no, and that we will go with three. We will just rotate those three guys, which is what we have always done anyway. We have never had four. This year was kind of a luxury for us and we got spoiled for three games. It was nice to have those first three ballgames, but we have generally gotten by with three and we will just go back continuing to rotate with three guys."

JH: Does Larry Birdine become the flip-flop guy?

BJW: "Bird, right now, is pretty comfortable on either side. Those other two kind of play right and left all the time, so he will probably be the guy that flips back-and-forth. He is probably playing the best among the three anyway, so I certainly don't mind having him on the field."

JH: For the last couple of years you have been waiting for Birdine to reach his potential. What finally got him going?

BJW: "It takes a little bit of time to learn everything and all the nuances of the defense — to learn calls and learn how to defuse blocking schemes. Sometimes the light comes on a little sooner than others, and I think it has finally come on for him. I think you can see it in his quality of play out there."

JH: Where are John Williams and Alonzo Dotson right now in the grand scope of things?

BJW: "They are still learning and developing. They are two guys that we will take a look at here during this open date and see if they have gotten far enough along to help us in our rotation. Right now my guess would be that they are probably not quite there, but we will give it a good look at see."

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