State of the Offense with Chuck Long

OU offensive coordinator Chuck Long talks about the progress of quarterback Rhett Bomar and the offense after the first three games. Bomar (pictured above) completed 20 of his 29 passes against UCLA.

The Sooners do not play a game this week, but they will practice on Saturday. That is what you get when you are 1-2 on the year.

And since there is no game this week, we take this time to find out where the Sooners stand offensively according to offensive coordinator Chuck Long.

JH: Do you expect any position changes before the Kansas State game on offense?

CL: "Well, we had one on Monday with Paul. But that is not necessarily a change. We are going to add to Paul Thompson's plate, which we think being a junior now he can handle that.

"Paul is going to work at receiver, but we are not changing his position. We are just adding to it. He is still going to work with the quarterbacks and he is still our back-up quarterback. He will still get snaps as a quarterback like he has been, and basically the same number of snaps so that is not going to change.

"You have to look at it from the standpoint that we are adding reps to him, because now he gets them at receiver as well."

JH: Where you happy with the way things worked out for your offense against UCLA?

CL: "Yes, we were. Wwe feel good about what we did, outside the turnovers, against UCLA. We did use different formations and different personnel groups, which has been our staple here the last five years. That is what we like to do, and you can see the results because of that.

"You are always working with the youth that we have, especially the young quarterback, and you wonder how far you can push the envelope. That is something, as a coach, that has always been a challenge.

JH: What progress has Rhett made?

CL: "He really played well last weekend. He was perfect with all his reads throughout the day. He threw the ball away when we had three points down there and they had it covered. I was very impressed with how he handled himself.

"He ran the ball well. And aside from the sacks where he lost yards, I think he had about 60 yards rushing. I really liked his competitive fire. He just competed hard. He got guys excited around him when he scored on that option late in the game.

"I believe you see a good one there in Rhett. He needs some growth and he needs some room to grow, but I think he is going to be a special player before he leaves here."

JH: Where did you feel the execution was in this game when you combined the new wrinkles with the rest of your offense?

CL: "We executed well, when you take away the snaps on the ground and balls on the ground. That is something that we continually work on and we still need to improve on.

"Outside of those problems I think the execution for the most part was pretty good — considering we were spreading the thing out, ran some option plays, put balls in the air a little bit more. I thought our passing game was executed very well."

JH: What did you think of the play of your offensive line?

CL: "I thought they did a good job. We protected better and some of the shots that Rhett took came off blitzes, which happens sometimes when sending multiple receivers out. I thought overall, we protected better, and the passing game was better because of that.

"In the run game, we did some good things as well, especially on that third touchdown. We had some good holes down there. We had counter game working and some misdirection. I thought we showed improvement there. We are an offense that is trying to improve every week, and I thought we made some improvement last week.

JH: How did you feel you executed some of the new wrinkles in the offense?

CL: "It is something that we worked in camp. How far do you stretch these guys? We felt it was time to stretch them a little bit, because that it good for us. You saw the result, it was good for us.

"We did have some options. We got out on the corner and Rhett kept the ball some which got us a couple of big third down conversations. It was third and 12 and we ran the option and he kept it, got outside and got the first down. Later, he scored on an option keep. It is easy to see that is going to be a good weapon for us."

JH: You used some different personnel groups as Jacob Gutierrez and Donta Hickson both saw action in the backfield along with AD, Kejuan Jones and J.D. Runnels. Is that something that we will see in the future?

CL: "We have been trying to work it in. We worked that package in training camp, but felt because of UCLA's defense it was time to bring it back out. That is why we did it.

"When you go into camp you work certain packages and sometimes you put them on the shelf until you get to a defense that you want to use them against. UCLA presented that for us."

JH: You had a bunch of no-gain or lost-yardage problems. What can you do to correct that?

CL: "We have to become good on first down. That has been hurting us. It is worse than a penalty really, because when you get a penalty it is first and 15. But if you get lost yardage it is second and 14. It has been an issue for us and we just have to get better. You start by being good on first down."

JH: Can Rhett take over some leadership of the offense in the next couple of weeks now that he has had some success on the field? And can Paul give you some reps from the wide receiver spot?

CL: "He can and should. I think, based on last game, they felt a spark with him in the line-up and that is a sign of a good leader. I think he is a natural leader, but I think you will see more of it, especially during this off-week that we have.

"When you think about the amount of repetitions that he is getting now and in the football game, he gains more of a leadership quality just by leading at practice.

"Paul can provide some too, because one of the reasons why we switched him to receiver was because he brings a lot of energy, enthusiasm and work ethic to our offense. He brings a good chemistry to our offense and we want him to be a part of that."

JH: Will Rhett's growth accelerate now that he's the man and he can overcoe his turnovers and mistakes during a game?

CL: "That is the next step for Rhett. With young quarterbacks, it is learning how to not beat yourself and he is working to that. That is part of being a young, freshman quarterback. Once he learns that he will move on to the next level.

"At the same time, you don't want to take his aggressiveness away because he is aggressive and that is part of his leadership quality. So, I have to be careful as a coach to not pull back on that, help him become more mature with the ball. But still let him play to the point that he can be himself."

JH: Is it the same thing you have to constantly do with AD?

CL: "It is the next step for guys like AD. He is an aggressive player and he loves to play the game. He wants that ball in his hands and he wants to go. We have to teach them that there is a certain pace to certain plays and a certain pace to the game that is required to become a better player. He is learning that pace every day at practice, and the more he plays the better he will understand that. People don't realize that he is still a young player."

JH: Was AD running where he was supposed to against UCLA? It seemed like he was always trying to bunch the ball outside wasn't he?

CL: "There is that fine line of whether you want him to do that all the time or not. There are cases where it is blocked up right in front of him and he does make a play to the outside. With running backs, you have to be careful and let them make their plays and runs on instincts. They may make a mistake on the run, but more times than not they are going to make plays too."

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