Two Minute Drill: Josh Heupel

Former Sooner quarterback and current quarterback coach Josh Heupel goes one-on-one with OUInsider.com. Heuepel talks about married life, the importance of summer workouts, the development of Rhett Bomar, Joey Halzle and Sam Bradford, and his playing days in Norman.

Josh Heupel is the last quarterback to lead OU to a National Championship in 2000. He also finished the season as the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. Heupel is considered one of the greatest quarterbacks in OU history and his ability and performance allowed Bob Stoops' future teams to develop faster than expected on the offensive end of the ball.

It is easy to say that up to this point Heupel is the most important signee of the Stoops era, so it was no surprise that when the opportunity arose Stoops brought Heupel back to coach quarterbacks.

This past spring was the first for Heupel as the QB coach with the Sooners, and he had a chance to learn a great deal about starter Rhett Bomar and back-up Joey Halzle, while also watching all the film he can watch of incoming freshman Sam Bradford.

Recently, Heupel appeared on WWLS with me and the conversation makes a great OUInsider.com Two Minute Drill.

JH: This is your second full year in coaching, isn't it?

Heupel: "It is my second full year. Coaching in Arizona last year was my first year. Thenm previously, I was at OU a year-and-a-half as a graduate assistant."

JH: You have been fortunate early in your coaching career to coach two different positions, and in just your second year coaching your best position. You have also worked for two great coaches in Mike and Bob Stoops?

Heupel: "I worked with tight ends and H-backs at Arizona, and now I am coaching quarterbacks here at Oklahoma. Obviously, I am very excited about being back at Oklahoma coaching the position that I played. I am extremely excited about the upcoming season. I really enjoyed my time out at Arizona and I enjoyed my time with Coach Mike. And now I am having a great time and learning a lot working with coach Bob Stoops."

JH: Congratulations for getting recently married.

Heupel: "That is the best recruiting job that I ever did."

JH: How does it feel to be married?

Heupel: "It doesn't feel any different at this point, but it has only been a week. She is not on me too hard yet."

JH: It wasn't too long ago that you were playing the game at an incredibly high leve. So as you starting your coaching career with Rhett Bomar, Joey Halzle and Sam Bradford at OU, do you in any way try to equate what these players are doing to what you accomplished at OU?

Heupel: "I think what you try to accomplish, no matter what you are coaching or if you have played the position, is you can obviously rely on your experiences heavily. I did the same thing when I was coaching tight ends. There are some intricacies and some different things that I have learned playing quarterback about other positions. So, you take things from your experiences and things that you have been successful with and try to instill that within each player that you are coaching."

JH: Now that spring is behind you and the guys are going through summer workouts, what is your take on the talent that you have at the quarterback positions?

Heupel: "I think we have a very talented pool of quarterbacks. We don't have a bunch of quarterbacks there. When I got here in December for the bowl game in California, Rhett Bomar was the only guy in the meeting room. The junior college kid, Joey, came in and did good job and picked up the offense pretty quickly. He was very successful early and I think the more we threw him out there and the more the pace of his reads increased, his decisions broke down at times. You expect that when you start throwing more and more on your quarterback. I thought he did a good job.

"Rhett continually improved throughout the spring. All those guys need to have a great summer here. They need to spend a lot of time with coach Smitty getting better physically, but more importantly spending time in the film room and giving themselves an opportunity to go out there and be successful next fall."

JH: Quarterbacks are usually the guys that organize the 7-on-7 drills in the summer, but it is more than just going out and getting a bunch guys out there to throw the ball around isn't it? The quarterback has to design the offensive practice, doesn't he?

Coach Heupel: "There is no doubt that all the skill guys go out there and have pass skel two, three or four times a week. At those workouts, they need to work on things that they are going to take onto the field on Saturday in the fall, and I think those guys are having a good summer. They are doing a great job with coach Schmidt and I am sure they are doing a great job in pass skel as well."

JH: Does Rhett Bomar have the potential or the talent to become a great quarterback?

Coach Heupel: "There is no doubt. He is physically gifted with everything you look at. That is why he was so highly-touted coming out of high school down in Grand Prairie. Again, he was only a freshman last year and he showed a lot of improvement as the season progressed. He still has a long ways to go if we are going to be a championship team, but he has all the talent necessary to get there and intelligence as well."

JH: What do you think about Joey Halzle?

Coach Heupel: "We were pleasantly surprised with how he picked things up early in the spring. He really made some good decisions. I mentioned before that as we put more on him in the spring, as you expect to see, he didn't make good decisions at times and he pressed a little bit. He will be a lot more comfortable with our offensive scheme and what we are trying to accomplish as we head into two-a-days moreso than where he was at spring practice at the end of March."

JH: You also have a very athletic quarterback in Sam Bradford. What kind of prospect do you have in Sam?

Heupel: "Sam is a great football player, but he is absolutely tremendous at anything that he puts his hands to. He is a great basketball player and he has a great presence on the court. He is a great golfer and we are really excited about what he is going to bring to the table and spending the next four to five years with him. We are looking forward to seeing him progressing as a young player and hopefully becoming a very mature player very quickly."

JH: Hasn't the offense changed a great deal since you were the quarterback at OU?

Heupel: "Yeah, there is no doubt. There has been a tremendous change in the offensive scheme and what we are trying to do from when we first go here in 1999 to where we are now. I think we are much sounder in some of the things that we are doing in protecting the quarterback, being under center more, throwing some play-action pass and taking more shots down the field.

"With the running back that we have back there now, you need to make sure you utilize him as much as you possibly can. You need to give him the ball a bunch, but if you are not giving him the ball then fake it to him and give ourselves an opportunity to make some big plays down field with some of those great young receivers that we have."

JH: In 1999, when a running play was called from the sideline or you called it in the huddle, didn't the guys ask you what they were supposed to do? On 3rd and 1, you guys were throwing the ball back then weren't you?

Heupel: "James, I checked out of that running play real quick. We didn't always check to a pass play on 3rd and short, and I know a couple of times when I did I got a stern look from coach Stoops when I got to the sideline if it didn't work. I think what has allowed us to be as successful as we have is that we are constantly finding ways to make sure that the 11 guys that we have on the field are going to have their best opportunity to be successful with what we are trying to do from the sidelines."

JH: What kind of optimism does the coaching staff have concerning the offense?

Heupel: "I think that a lot of the same optimism that the public probably has. You look at last year at how many freshmen or redshirt freshmen were playing for us at key spots. Adrian (Peterson) was only in his second year and Rhett was only a redshirt freshman. We played with three true freshmen wide receivers and a couple of young freshmen offensive linemen. We are getting those guys back and they are going to be much better than they were a year ago.

"Again, the key to the whole thing is that championship teams are not made during the week before your first game of the season. Championship teams are made during the summer, and I think our guys are having a great summer right now."

JH: Fans always ask me to ask you two questions relating to your playing days at OU. The first is whether you knew that Torrance Marshall was telling Chris Weinke during the pregame coin toss that he was coming to get his boy's Heisman back?

Heupel: "I never went out for a coin toss because I was always on the sideline throwing. So, I didn't hear about it as it happened, but I certainly heard about it after the game. It is great audio on the Internet and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I have seen a copy of the coin toss and there is no doubt that it is a classic. That is typical Torrance too right there."

JH: The second question is whether you knew what you had in Quentin Griffin before he joined you in game seven of your first year in 1999?

Heupel: "Offensively, we didn't know much about him. He kind of got thrown into the mix there when Mike Thornton got hurt in the Colorado game that year. He was playing on scout team up to that point, so we didn't see him much on offense. Obviously, you always heard what was going on at the other side of the field and the defensive guys would talk about how he would run the ball and break guys down. The same stuff that you saw from him the four years that he played was what our defense saw when he was on scout team. It was tough to get a hand on him and bring him to the ground. However, I don't think we totally knew what we were getting in 'Q' and he went on to do a great job for us."


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