With the start of two-a-days just a little over a week away, it is always fun to talk to OU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson. We all have a feeling how coach Wilson will call the Sooner offense this season after watching the Holiday Bowl, but the following interview with OU's OC may gives us more of an idea of what to expect this fall.
JH: With two-a-days coming up, do you already know how your're going to preare your offense during fall camp?
KW: "The thing that excites me is that we have some young, talented athletes. I think we made some progress in the spring becoming not only good athletes, but good football players. We are not where we need to be yet, but we got better in the spring and hopefully will better when two-a-days start.
"Right now I don't know if we are going to be a good, really good or great offense yet. But when you see the talent and the potential that some of these guys bring to the table for you, that is pretty exciting. I think the challenge for our group is to realize that we are coming off an 8-4 season and that we did not have a great year as a team. We did not have a great year offensively and we did not have great years individually. We are trying to get our guys to understand that the only way they can be great is to become a team.
"So our challenge is to get guys like Adrian (Peterson), Rhett Bomar and young receivers like (Malcolm) Kelly, (Juaquin) Iglesias and Manuel Johnson, and some of young offensive linemen like big (Branndon) Braxton and big Duke (George Robinson), who are very talented, but are they good players yet? Are we going to become a great offensive unit? Can we become a good team? That will be our challenge in camp."
JH: Everybody wants to know how you will call the game this year. Do you have a certain style? Or do you even know yet due to what personnel you will put on the field?
KW: "While Chuck (Long) was here, we are doing things very similar because that what I have always been around how things are done anyway offensively. It is about a group of coaches. It is not me. Chuck was the guy who had the final call, the final say and final direction, but there were a lot of ideas from all our staff members. We are doing the same things right now, but I am the guy on the end who will start paring things down and deciding which direction we are going. We went through the off-season and reviewed what our strengths and weaknesses are and where do we think we can go. We don't need to waste time in practice guessing or wondering what we can do.
"What can our line handle? To me, you start offensively with what your line can handle and what your quarterback can handle. You have to put those two positions in a position to be successful. Then, after that, great skill players make you look really good or pretty good. We will try to gauge what our quarterback can do and what is best for him. What can this line do in our run game and protection?
"As far as personnel groupings, I am coaching tight ends now and I told my guys that the best thing about coaching those guys is that if they don't want to be productive, then they don't have to play. We can go to different personnel groups. We can put two tailbacks in the game, or a tailback and a fullback with three receivers or even four receivers. If we feel really good we can play with a lot of two tight end sets, or we can play with a fullback like J.D. Runnels, or we wont' play with a fullback if he is not going to be a productive player.
"To me, we have to figure out what skill players we can count on and what that line and quarterback can do. From there, you develop balance. And I have said this over and over, that balance is not 50/50 or equal yards. Balance is the ability to do both things well. You can run as much, and as often and whenever you need to. You can hang your hat in the running game. If you need to throw the ball you can throw it effectively, efficiently time after time after time.
"It has nothing to do with an equal number of (running/passing) plays. The key is as we evolve is to be balanced and find out what those guys can and can't do in personnel groupings, be physical and take care of the ball. And with that, I hope we have some great playmakers who will make us all look real good."
JH: How are you going to replace J.D Runnels in the offense? And what about your tight end situation?
KW: "We have Dane Zaslaw, out of Edmond Memorial, and we have a freshman that played a little on special teams in Matt Clapp. I really like the two tight ends that we have in Joe Jon Finley and Brody Eldridge. We moved Brody over from defensive end and I think he has a tremendous opportunity to be a great tight end. He weighs 260 pounds and runs well.
"Of course, we have recruited a couple of tight ends coming in (Jermaine Gresham and Eric Mensik), so I think we can maybe move a tight end around and do some fullback things and play the best players. If the fullbacks are not going to be real good, then maybe we will be in more spread sets with receivers on the field."
"I was an I-formation coach and player for 15 to 18 years. We went to the spread because we did not have a fullback and we did not have a tight end at Northwestern. I think most people think because we were doing that at Northwestern that we are going to go to the spread here. All the I-formation things that we have been doing for the last few years are things that I put in. That is our power plays, our zone plays, our lead plays and the protections that we have been doing with that stuff.
"What I didn't like when we were in the spread at Northwestern is that you still need to have a fullback sometimes to have some attitude and some tough running in short-yardage and goal-line. The better that player plays, as J.D. did at times, the more he is on the field in more situations."
"It will be an interesting competition. We have an experienced, strong guy in Dane at fullback and I really think Matt Clapp has a lot of upside potential. He is a very athletic guy and he has a chance to be really good."
Getting offensive with Kevin Wilson
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