Long, Wilson hope experience pays off for offense

Oklahoma offensive coordinator Chuck Long talks to reporters Saturday during a press conference Saturday morning in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. See inside for quotes from Long and offensive line coach Kevin Wilson about USC's defense and OU's offense. (AP Photo/J. Pat Carter)

Below are quotes from Chuck Long and Kevin Wilson's offensive press conference Saturday in Ft. Lauderdale.

On how different this time feels than it was in 2000
Long: "Very similar. The only difference really is we have probably more of a veteran team this time around. Expectations in our program are a lot higher this time around. In that 2000 year I think we started the year off around 18th or 19th in the country pre-season, and we just kind of worked our way up and ended up being undefeated No. 1 in the country, and the expectations weren't as high then.

"This year obviously after what we've done in our program they're a lot higher, but it does have a similar feel in terms of we are the underdog going into this game like we were in 2000. We have a very similar path to this game. We had the same road games as we did in 2000, same type of games on the road.

"We had to come back against A & M and Oklahoma State like we did in 2000 on the road. We played a championship in Kansas City and won it just like we did in 2000 and we're playing the Orange Bowl like we did in 2000, so it's very similar the way it's laid out. It's kind of eerie in a way.

"But we're excited about this game, have a good feeling going into this game. I know the guys are excited to play, and on top of that we have some guys like Jason and Jammal that were around in 2000 and know what it was like then, and it's helped with the experience of it today. It's an excited feeling right now going into this game."

On how confident he is that as you go into the biggest game of the year everything the offense has done all season will come together in this game
Long: "We feel a lot better than last year. Last year, mentally, we were coming off a tough loss in the Big 12 Championship game, and we're a lot healthier than last year going into this game. We were banged up going into this game as compared to this year.

"Offensively speaking, we feel we have a lot better balance this year than we did last year. You know, we made it a point in the off season to establish a run game and get back to that run game that we did so well in the Rose Bowl year, and we won the Big-12 Championship that year, so we want to achieve some balance. We've worked hard to do that. Coach Wilson has done a great job with developing that as well as teaching it and getting the guys positive around that all the way through.

"We haven't wavered from it. We still want to continue our balance going in. I think because of that we feel a lot better. We feel like we can do more things with our offense, specifically play action. Play action has really helped us this year off of our run game, and that's something we want to continue to do this game."

On USC's defense
Long: "You know, they're very sound defensively. They don't want to get out of their gaps. They're very gap sound. They're well coached. Coach Carroll is primarily the defensive coordinator there as well as the head coach, but he handles the defense and he has vast experience on all levels.

"When we put on the film for the first time and watched him, we saw a very gap-sound defense, which was really no surprise to us, and they rallied to the football very well. All 11 guys get there, and they preach that there, you can tell. You can see that on film. They have a good front four, they rely on those guys to get penetration and disrupt both the run game and pass protections.

"They do have a variety of blitzes. They don't do it as much as some teams we played this year, but when they do, it's like in a surprise mode. They try to get you off balance and try to pop it in there to try to get you off balance.

"They play more man than probably anybody we've played all year, a lot of man, man-free; they'll press those corners and get up in the receivers' faces and try to disrupt the timing of the patterns. That's something that we faced a little bit this year, not as much as what they do, so those are the things we've been working hard on this past month.

On offensive lineman Davin Joseph being from Florida and if he thinks he as an extra pep in his step for this game
Wilson: "Davin is a great player, a great person. He typically has a pep in his step most weeks no matter where we're playing. I think like the young men from Texas when we have a chance to go down to the Cotton Bowl, he'll take the responsibility of playing well in front of his family and his friends. By no means -- someone asked me earlier would it be a distraction, and when you play at Oklahoma it's like there's distractions every week with all our fans and the media and the hype and the excitement of OU football, so I think we're a little immune to distractions. We've got two linemen who are great players, and they'll tell you Davin Joseph is every bit as good as them, if not better. He's had a couple weeks of prep and he'll play real well come Tuesday night.

On the USC players saying they were impressed with OU's linemen and their ability to win one-on-one blocks
Wilson: "They were setting you up (laughs). You bought that, didn't you? rying to butter up the fat guys (laughs). It's going to be a great -- it's a great match-up of teams across the board. Their front is outstanding. We think we're pretty good, too. It's going to be -- every game is -- we're talking about man coverage one-on-one, a great front on defense and an experienced veteran, very good offense competing.

"We have prepared in a way I think that I've seen us prepare several times that give us a chance to play at a pretty positive level, and I like our preparation. It's going to be a huge challenge, but I believe our guys are looking forward to competing against their great front because they're special players and I think our guys relish this opportunity to go out toe-to-toe after a good group and fight every play as best we can. You watch them play, they play with an attitude on tape and we're going to try our darndest to match that with effort and intensity and toughness. It's going to be a battle all day."

On USC's linebackers and secondary
Long: "The linebackers are smart players. They get all those guys lined up. They have some veteran players at linebacker. They run well. One thing we've noticed on film is quarterbacks, when they get in their pass coverage they often free up -- when you play a lot of man coverage, they read quarterbacks' eyes pretty well in their zones and in their man. We have to be good about looking them up and getting them out of the way of the place we want to go with the football. They're very active linebackers, run well. I mentioned the corners, they like to get up and press, and they do a variety of different things in their press and then they'll bail out of their press. They'll bail out of there.

"Their safeties have good speed, very active, and they have some physical safeties. They have good team speed. You know, we have good team speed and so do they. We're very similar that way. We have to counter that with a lot of -- some misdirection, whether it be in the run or different things in the pass game, whether it be motion and shifting around, whatever it may be, which we've done all year.

"You know, an excellent 11 guys. You can see that they've played together for a while and they have good chemistry going and have good trust in each other, and so do we. We feel good about our team going in and what we're able to do against them in this game."


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