Watson Brown on Oklahoma

Alabama-Birmingham head coach Watson Brown talks about Saturday's matchup against Oklahoma. Brown (pictured) is the brother of Texas head coach Mack Brown. (Photo/Getty Images)

Watson Brown was the offensive coordinator for Oklahoma before leaving to take over the UAB program as head coach 12 years ago. This season, he returns 57 lettermen from last year's 5-7 Blazers team when he brings them into Owen Field on Saturday. The brother of Texas coach Mack Brown, Watson Brown talked Monday about the upcoming game against Oklahoma.

Talk about where your team is heading into Saturday's season opener against Oklahoma

Brown: Well, I don't know. I think you've got to play somebody and see. We've gone against each other. I see a lot of pluses, pluses being on the defensive side. We have a lot of question marks on the offensive side, but I see a lot of talent. So, I think it's just going to be how quickly we settle in, gain some experience. If we get some young guys to play well early in the year, stay healthy through this tough early season schedule, by the time we get to conference play we could be a dangerous football team.

Give us a little bit of an update on your quarterback situation

Brown: You know, we've got three guys. I don't mind playing any of the three. We're going to play two in the first game. Chris Williams has been Darrell Hackney's backup for really four years, all four years he was here, and then Sam Hunt, who's a junior and then Joe Webb is a redshirt freshman and I like all three of these kids.

But the problem is going to be how quickly do they become good players. You've gotta get out there and play against a different colored shirt and react to that. It's like I told them. I expect them to be better players in the third quarter of the Oklahoma game than I do the first quarter and hopefully, we'll see that kind of improvement as the year goes on.

The Sooners certainly have one of the best running backs in the country in Adrian Peterson. Talk about preparing for him and the rest of Oklahoma's team.

Brown: In my 12 years here, we've played some great teams. I think this may be the best defensive team we've played. There was a Virginia Tech group with Corey Moore a few years ago, there was a Florida State team two, three, four years ago, I can't remember, that was really good. This one compares to those two and may be better.

And then the running back is the best running back we've played in 12 years here. There's no doubt about it. And that's comparing him to some really good ones, because we've played a lot of good football teams. In relation to your game this week, we're not really sure what kind of formation Oklahoma is going to come out in….

Brown: Neither am I.

But they have a classic I-tailback. Big, pounding, strapping, tall guy who's fast, hits the hole hard. Can you talk about how maybe certain running backs fit certain offenses?

Brown: I think that he's easy for me to talk about because I watched my brother play the national championship game and I saw those two guys Southern Cal had.

To me, he's a combination of both of those. I think when I watch him get loose, he can dodge you like Reggie Bush, he can leave you. And then, when I watch him run up inside, he looks like Lendale White, I mean, he really does. So I don't know. As I've said, he's the best back I've played in the 12 years I've been here and I just don't see a weakness.

I don't think it matters what they do with him. They can put him in the gun, they can stick him in the I, they can put him outside and throw him a quick screen. I mean, this guy can do everything it looks to me like.

Do you agree with the notion that a Barry Sanders-sized guy fits better in a shotgun offense and a big guy like Peterson is better in an I offense?

Brown: No, I don't. I don't believe that. I've seen all kind of backs be good at a lot of different things through my time. You put them in the spread-type thing, they have to be good at seeing holes, hitting holes, running to daylight. You stick them dead in the I, sometimes there's hole-type running plays in the I and then there's just power plays that go right at you. But I just don't see this kid not being able to do all of that. I've seen him do all of that, matter of fact.

So, that's what's hard for us, because we know he can do so many things and we're trying to figure out what they're going to do with him now that they've had a change in quarterbacks. So it's really been hard on us in two-a-days.

This may be a bit premature, but do you put him in the class of the all-time college football greats?

Brown: I do. I haven't played him but I've watched him on tape and I just… my gosh… I see strength, I see size, I see speed and quickness, I see unbelievable competitiveness and toughness. All the things you want a running back to have. He's got good hands. I just don't see a weakness in this kid at all.

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