Heupel: It's a great opportunity

New OU quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel talks about returning to Norman, current Sooner QB Rhett Bomar and Oklahoma's matchup with Oregon in the Holiday Bowl.

Below are excerpts from new quarterback coach Josh Heupel's press conference with the media Thursday in Norman.

On coming back to Oklahoma

Heupel: I'm extremely excited about being back here and being part of this football program and the university.

It was a great opportunity for me to come back, an opportunity to coach quarterbacks, which is something I definitely want to get back to for my career in coaching. And there's not a better place to do it than right here.

On if it was in his thought-process to come back to Norman during his coaching career

Heupel: Even when I played here, this was a great place to be. I truly enjoyed it. It's a home of mine and a lot of my family live here. So that is definitely a major part of why I came back.

But the opportunity to coach quarterbacks, to do that at the place that you played, and where this program stands across the country, just makes it an easy decision.

On coaching the quarterbacks

Heupel: No doubt did I want to come back to the University of Oklahoma. This is where I played. This is where I invested a lot of my time and energy.

Obviously, I have a lot of things going here. My family lives here. My mom and dad moved down to Muskogee, Okla. this summer. I have a Foundation down here that works with under-privileged kids.

You tie that in with the opportunity to come back and coach here, and it's a great opportunity.

On how his time coaching tight ends and the offensive line helped him as a coach

Heupel: For me, to grasp or have a great understanding of everything that goes on in the offensive scheme — how to tie in the run game, pass game, play action pass, protections — it was vital for me to spend those two years with the offensive line, which I did here.

And then this year, getting an opportunity to really work hand in hand with the pass game and the run game, working with the tight ends position. I think that has made me 10 times the coach I would've been if I had just jumped in and started coaching quarterbacks right away.

On how much he learned and grew being able to go on the road and recruit during his year at Arizona

Heupel: I've grown a lot as far as being a full-time guy.

I learned how to recruit, be on the road, work with kids. I learned how to find their interest and their niche in your university. It was a great learning opportunity for me.

Obviously, everyone is familiar with Coach Mike and what he brings to the table, and to be under him for a year was a great opportunity.

On Rhett Bomar and his future

Heupel: I haven't had an opportunity to watch a lot of film as of yet, but you can definitely see a large progression in his football game.

The game has slowed down to him. He's got a lot better taking care of the football, making a lot better decisions, making quicker decisions.

That's' the progression of a young quarterback, and I'm really excited about having the opportunity to work with him and a lot of the young kids we have here in our program.

On coming back to work with the coaches who coached him while he was playing

Heupel: Really, it's a great opportunity.

I've said this many times before, the staff that you have here is second to none, and you can see that with the success that they've had here the past six or seven years.

It's a great honor and privilege for me to come back and work with these guys. Coach Stoops, obviously, it's an opportunity to learn a lot from him and really everyone that's a part of the program.

Again, my progression and where I've come from when I first started here three years ago, I'm a lot better football coach because of the things I've learned from the people that are already here.

On being labeled as 'coach's son' when he was playing

Heupel: Yeah, I was never known as very athletic quarterback or a very gifted athlete (laughs.).

I think my experience growing up being around the game, being in the coaches office, being in defensive meetings, have definitely impacted me in how I approach the game.

And I think, as a lot of coaches kids are, I have a much better and deeper understanding of the game and the coaching side of it.

On him being the first person Jason White talked to when he came off the field, and the learning experience of that aspect of the game as a coach

Heupel: I was a young coach. He was a guy that didn't have a lot of reps. Obviously, I had an opportunity to play with him as well.

I think people can see my passion is with the quarterbacks and with the pass game. It's probably my emphasis.

So, that opportunity to work with him on a daily basis was one I enjoyed.

On his relationship with Kevin Wilson and his thoughts on him as a coordinator

Heupel: He'll be dynamite coordinator, as he was at Northwestern. He has had a deep involvement in everything that's going on here at Oklahoma since he arrived a few years ago.

Our relationship is one that will be an easy transition because of how much interaction we had with each other while I was here for those two years working with the offensive line. I think that brings a comfort level to all those coaches on the offensive side of the ball that they might not otherwise have.

On how much the schemes have changed since he left last year, and how much of what he was running back then will he teach the current players

Heupel: There's a little quarterback run game in there (laughs).

Every year is different. Your personnel constantly changes. I think that's one of the things for me coming in here, is to grasp our personnel and how you detail or change your schemes based on that. So, I think that's one of the major things that I have to learn.

I think when you're coaching you take in all of your experiences. Whether it was me as an eight-year old on the practice field with my father, playing here at the University of Oklahoma or at Snow Junior College, or my experiences from the tight end and offensive line position.

I think bringing all those experiences in together is what gives you the best opportunity to interact, to teach and to get your kids to play at the highest level.

On what he'll teach that he feels are important to being a quarterback at the D-1 level

Heupel: The two most important things to me is (1) leadership. Having 10 other guys on the offensives side of the ball, 11 on the defensive side of the ball, believing in you. If you can get the 10 other guys in the huddle to raise their game and play at a higher level, then you're going to be successful as a quarterback.

And then (2) Taking care of the ball and not making critical mistakes that could cause your football team to lose games. If you do those two things, you'll be successful.

But then everything that comes into that is fundamentals, technique, understanding defenses, where you need to go with the ball and the ability to make quick decisions back there in the pocket.

On if it was tough to tell Mike Stoops he was going back to Oklahoma

Heupel: Yeah, and I'm very appreciative to Coach Mike for the opportunity he gave me to jumpstart my career with him. Arizona's a great place. A place that's going to be extremely successful, which everyone would guess with Coach Mike being there leading the program.

He understood that this is an opportunity for me to further my career. It's an opportunity to coach quarterbacks and then come back here as well.

On if he feels quarterbacks have to have a level of cockiness or swagger to be successful

Heupel: There's no doubt. If you look at the most successful quarterbacks in history or in the NFL right now, they have a strong belief, strong competitive nature about themselves.

Whether they're playing basketball, shooting golf, shooting pool, they want to win each and every time. They truly believe no matter what the situation, they're going to be successful.

From the time I've spent around Rhett Bomar, he definitely has that competitive nature about him and that fire and that belief that he can do anything. And I think that's the exciting thing for myself coming back here and working with a young man like that.

On what he thought about his first year being on the road recruiting

Heupel: It is a long grind on the road, but I really enjoyed the opportunity to sit down with young people, meet their families, tell them about your university, what you have to offer.

And more than anything, learn to develop relationships with them. It's almost like you become part of their family as well.

On Oregon

Heupel: We did play Oregon. It was in the middle portion of the season.

We actually knocked out their two starting quarterbacks that game. Their starter, I'm not sure of his name, and then we knocked out the second team guy, who is the guy that I believe is starting for them now.

Oregon, as an entire team, has great skill kids. They're extremely fast, big, tall, physical guys. On the defensive side of the ball, I think the thing that impresses you most, at least it did for me in my role as the tight ends guy, is their front four.

They've got another gear when they want to switch it on. They're two inside guys are very active, big, strong physical guys, and their ends are extremely active as well.

On Rhett's challenge of dealing with Oregon's front four

Heupel: That's one of the things he's going to have to face. In third and long situations when you're dropping back feeling the pocket, he's probably going to have to make a few plays with his feet.

Again, I haven't talked with all the coaches and that type of thing, but we need to gameplan around that little bit and take some of the pressure of those front five guys up front.

If you just drop back and sit back there all day in the pocket, those guys are going to get after you.

On how quickly it will take him to catch up with the offense, and how much input he will add into the gameplan for Oregon

Heupel: Well, I would guess that I'm not going to be heavily involved in the gameplan, seeing as I'm guessing 80-85 percent of that is already in place.

But for me to get up to speed with the terminology and that type of thing, we'll see. Again, I have a lot of familiarity with this system and how we term certain things.

Obviously, there will be some things that have changed over the past year, but I would guess it wouldn't take me too long to get caught up to speed in that facet.

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