Long says offense starting to come together

Sooner offensive coordinator Chuck Long talks about the progress Oklahoma's offense made against Baylor and this weekend's matchup with Nebraska. Pictured above: Freshman receiver Juaquin Igesias catches the game-winning touchdown in double-overtime against Baylor. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Below are excerpts from Oklahoma offensive coordinator Chuck Long's interview with the media on Tuesday.

On how the offense is progressing

Long: This last game it felt like it was all starting to come together a little bit more. We improved in third downs, which was good. We were almost 50 percent there.

Rhett executed it well along with our receivers in the passing game. With those guys, it's just matter of playing together for a while. Just keep playing together. It takes a little time to gel.

We've been an offense that's really built continuity week by week this year just because of either injuries, shuffling a lineup or with the running back situation last game with Jake (Gutierrez) and Allen (Patrick). Allen was a DB three weeks ago, so our continuity has been built basically week by week.

You'd like to start in spring, summer and training camp and build that where you get it all set for the season. But because of our situation we've had to build it from Monday to Friday every week, which is a credit to our staff for putting this thing together very quickly each week, not knowing who we have this week and what's the status of our guys as far as injuries.

Who can we build a gameplan around? That's what it's been like. Last week was fantastic the way those guys stepped up — Allen and Jacob. The big thing behind the scenes is our offensive line's is coming together. That's the big thing right now.

On how much J.D. Runnels' increased production out of the backfield catching passes was attributed to the gameplan or the attrition to the other running backs

Long: Both. And just the fact that was his (Rhett Bomar's) read. J.D. is not often the primary receiver. He's a secondary, even a third receiver in some of those routes. Well, they took away 1 and 2 and J.D. happened to get it. A lot that can just fall into place because of the read took him there.

On adding more pass patterns where the tight ends are the first and second reads for the quarterback

Long: We've had a few more. We've put in more every week where he's (the tight end) either one or two. Some of your flat routes you see where we play-action and throw it quick to him on the sideline, we've always had those. We usually have one or two of those every week. Sometiems we get to it and sometimes we don't.

On if they might start game-planning to get Runnels the ball more in the open field after seeing his moves against Baylor

Long: We've always liked him in the open field. When you put those plays in it's one of those plays where you go through the course of the game and say is it there or is it not there?

We've set those plays up with other runs to see if those are there. Sometimes we'll have it oiled up or practiced and then we get in the game and it's not there, so we may not get to it.

On the play where Runnels reversed field and picked up a big gain

Long: Never seen that with him before. That was great. You know, Rhett actually had two blocks in the game where he knocked a guy down. We call them knockdowns and Rhett had two of them. But again, J.D. was exceptional and we'd like to keep that going for us.

Part of that is we had him in there. When we don't we're working our option game with Jake and we have two tailbacks in their against UCLA working that package. Rhett, after the Texas game, was banged up a little bit so we went to more I style and taking more off Rhett to get him healthy.

So it's been a delicate balance every week. Here's Rhett, he's banged up, so let's take some off of him and put it on J.D. or whatever.

The thing we've always been careful with J.D. is he does a lot of blocking. He's banging those shoulders up, so you're careful how many snaps you give him because he's doing so much blocking in there. That's why we like our other packages, it spells him as well.

On what happened in the third quarter against Baylor after having a great first half

Long: Well, we just hit a lull. We all wondered what happened. They adjusted well at halftime. They played a lot more coverage after halftime. We wanted to come out throwing the ball, but they were playing more coverage.

Looking back, we probably should've run it more. We were just off on a few things. It was either a protection break down or were just off a little bit. We adjusted and got it going in the fourth quarter.

On Gutierrez going back to his role when Peterson comes back

Long: I don't know, I think he's pretty excited right now and I'm sure he's going to get his touches now and in the future.

Players have to understand their role too, and Jake's going to understand his role as well. He was called upon, that was his role last week, and he excelled. I do know that players that touch the ball a little like he did want more. It's just a natural reaction.

But with Jake, he's always been a team player since he's been here. An exceptional team player. One of our best. He's always been very receptive of his role on our team.

We're hoping to get him back in. I always believe with running backs, you're going to end up playing all of them anyway.

On Nebraska's defense

Long: Good defense. They have a lot of sacks. They're leading the country, or close to it, in sacks.

They're defensive ends get up the field well. They do a good job of rotating the defensive line and keeping them fresh. They rotate four to six guys in there and keep them fresh throughout the game. That's their style. They want to get up the field and get after that quarterback in the four and five man rushes.

They have a lot of what we call zero blitzes, where they just bring the house, and we expect that to happen as well. We do have a young quarterback and we've expected that every week just to try rattle him. Rhett's doing a good job of facing that, delivering the ball and taking a hit and bouncing right back up.

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