The Oklahoma offense finished with 370 yards total offense — 227 yards through the air and 143 yards on the ground — in their 24-17 win over UAB on Saturday. Star running back Adrian Peterson finished with 139 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown and one catch for 69 yards and a touchdown.
However, the Sooners turned the ball over four times and shot themselves in the foot several times during the game. OU head coach Bob Stoops said following the game that he liked what he saw in between the turnovers, but that the Sooners were fortunate to win turning the ball over four times.
It is obvious that the OU offense could have played better on Saturday, and to find out just how much betterOU Offensive Coordinator Kevin Wilson talked the media on Tuesday about a variety of topics concerning the Sooner offense.
JH: Now that you have had a chance to look at the film, how well did you feel the offense played against UAB?
KW: "The turnovers ± we had five offensive penalties so that is nine busts out of 54 snaps. We moved the ball well and we had some big plays, but we have tried to work all camp emphasizing turnover reduction. We had two picks in the scoring zone taking points off the board for us. We gave them two turnovers on our side of the 50, one leading to a score for them. We have emphasized and talked, but talk is cheap. If we are going to turn the ball over we won't have a really good year. Hopefully, we can learn from that and take better care of the football."
"Outside of that, we played very hard – significantly harder than any game last year. I thought we had great effort up front — tight ends and receivers are pretty good. AD (Adrian Peterson) tried to make too many dancing big plays early instead of sticking the football in there. He really didn't come close to playing a good game for him. He made a couple of good plays, but he missed some things.
"He thinks every play is a home run instead of slamming it in there and cramming it. A lot of times, he will run through some trash so we have asked him to be significantly more disciplined and not be a guy who feels he needs to make plays. He needs to just play fast and play physical. The effort was outstanding, but the sloppiness just bled us. We had four drives — two were run plays and two were pass plays that kept us off the field."
MEDIA: How was the effort significantly harder than at any time last year?
KW: "We played tougher and more physical. Joe Jon Finley had 15 knockdowns in 50 some plays. He knocked a couple of guys off the field. It is not that one where he ran around and made a big block, when he screwed up the read and that is why we went to AD, because he was the check down guy. It was just their the effort.
"We told them that we didn't expect the first game to be perfect, but we had four goals. One of them was no fumbles, which we had two. One was to be physical and to play hard, and we did those two things. We tried to emphasize that the last week-and-a-half or two, but we just need to be smarter, a little bit more efficient and a little bit more protective of the football. Their effort and attitude was good. There was a little more flying around on the offensive side of the ball than I thought we had more than last year.
"We showed them film clips of our '04 team. Everybody talks about the good players, but they played hard. I didn't think last year we played real hard. As we went through some controversies and settling down thing,s we just didn't play hard. I thought Saturday we played fairly hard and had something to build on. Hopefully, we will continue to play harder and more physical as we go through the season."
JH: You had 370 yards total offense, but when you consider the turnovers you were actually close to have a big game weren't you?
KW: "Potentially, but again you don't make those plays. You make the mistakes and you let the opponent play in. We were pretty quick at getting our drives started, getting plays on the field and to not lose time. When you look how some of these games are going with less plays, if you make a few mistakes and limit your drives you lose opportunities. And that will allow people to play with your and people to beat you.
"I would definitely say, with the instant replay rules now that the refs want to make sure guys are down, so they are not blowing the whistle as quick. We have had a ball stripped out, so yesterday we worked 10 minutes with every guy who handles the ball. They were getting yanked on and pulled on and getting on the ground and all that. Again, we have a chance to make a post pass that we miss and then we throw a pick the next play. Then we scramble and we have a chance to have a touchdown catch that we miss and we get a field goal. We are close to having a few more plays, but we didn't and that is always going to be football.
"We did move the ball fairly well. And no disrespect to our opponent, but we just felt we stopped ourselves a little bit more than ideally want to. We have to make a lot of strides to be more efficient, but again the effort and talent and some things we are doing we feel pretty good about. We will see how it goes here this week and weeks to come."
MYRON PATTON: How well did your offensive line play?
KW: "They did real well. Brandon Walker was the only one with a sub-par grade, as far as what we consider a winning performance. The four other guys played pretty well. We had one sack and that sack was on the tailback. We had an interception that was due to a protection breakdown, and that was on the tailback. I think the quarterback got hit one time due to an offensive lineman.
"And again, the limited plays got us where we were not on the field as much. We didn't run it as much as we would like to stat-wise, but if you look at the yards and the numbers you can skew those stats good and you can skew them negatively. Bottom line, we just turned the ball over and got some penalties that stopped some drives. If we stop that we will be OK."
MEDIA: So Joe Jon is a more physical player now?
KW: "He is 255 to 260 (pounds) as is Brody (Eldridge) who played well. And then you have the young guy, Jermaine (Gresham). Those guys are good players. We have said that all camp that those guys are good players. Joe Jon played hard and he played fast. I think since he got to play some last year he is now more confident, stronger, mature and he was having a lot of fun flying around. Hopefully, he will have a chance.
He showed what he is capable of and he has seen the great players that we have had do it week after week. He shows that he has a chance to be an upper-level player, but he could have a flash in the pan one game deal. But he practiced very hard and in a positive way to back it up in back to back-to-back great games, which is what great players do.
MEDIA: Were the knockdowns different for Joe Jon?
KW: "He wasn't playing as much last year. We just emphasized trying to get guys on the ground and trying to get guys blocked. just as we are just trying to get them to play hard and we were very pleased with that. It wasn't just him, but with a lot of guys."
MEDIA: You played Adrian the whole game, so how well did he play?
KW: "The one sack was on him, the one interception in the first half was when he didn't pick up the blitz who is hitting the quarterback when he throws, and then we are a little behind. I told him after the game that if he was a man that he needed to go in and tell those guys that he didn't play his best. He was dancing too much early. He is looking for big plays instead of sticking it. He was being indecisive and wasn't making great cuts.
"The guy that trained me in coaching was a running back and his comment all the time was that you get nickels. You get nickels and you will find a dollar. However, if you are looking for dollars there are not a lot of dollars lying around, but there are a bunch of nickels on the ground. If you keep sticking it and keep slamming it in there you will make some plays. He is talented and fast, but early we weren't on the field and we were trying to get some mix of run and pass early. You don't get a lot of carries and sometimes as a player you want to try to make the play, instead of just playing fast and playing decisive.
"He is a mature guy and a talented guy. Hopefully, this week he will improve and not feel like he needs to make big plays but just play fast and physical, because he will make plays if he does that."
MEDIA: Despite the fact that Adrian is a great athlete and a great player, you guys are not afraid to criticize him?
KW: "I think I am a great coach and you guys criticize me all the time (laughs). He has to learn that when he stops moving his feet he is just another guy like everyone else. That goes for Juaquin Iglesias, who stopped moving his feet on the kick return and all of the sudden it looks like the kicker has a great tackle on him. He also stopped his feet on two routes. You play fast and you play decisive, then you make good plays. If you look to make plays then you won't make them. Plays happen within the framework of the offense with people playing fast and playing physical.
"If I can't criticize him or coach him or correct him, then I can't coach anyone on our team. He knows that. I am not negative about him, but when he doesn't play well then I need to tell him. That was not his best game. Like he told coach that he would make up for that play, but a great player doesn't make that first play and the ball is not on the ground. There is no excuse for me. I coached a guy that had 864 carries without a fumble. That is an NCAA record. He has 80 career touchdowns. That is an NCAA record. This guy (Peterson) is not close to any one of those two records, even as talented as he is right now. That is the challenge — to get him to be a great player. He is a great talent and he is close, but it is getting him to be more consistent. That is what we are striving for him to do. When he is told all the time how good he is he starts thinking those things and you start taking things for granted. You try to make great plays, you don't play with the discipline and structure that you need.
"His challenge will be to find out as he grows to be a really, really great player, the little things make the difference. That is why Tiger Woods is what he is. Somebody said that they thought Tiger would chill out and I said Tiger is going to win. That is what he is about. He wasn't chilling out. He wants to be the best. That is the challenge when you are a guy like Adrian — to push yourself to be that kind of a player. He is a great talent, but there is a difference than being a talent and being a truly great player. You have seen a bunch of them here and he can be one, but he is not that guy yet."
MEDIA: Do you have more of an influence on Adrian now that you are the Offensive Coordinator?
KW: "I would say I am more able, because you just don't want to cross your bounds on what you are doing. Bottom line, even though I was doing the running game and I was talking to him some, it was under the direction of coach Stoops and coach Long. I had a role, but I also didn't want to step on coach Gundy's toes. Again, I am not being critical because he played a good game, but it wasn't his best and he can be better. We don't want him looking to make big plays, we want him to stick it and be decisive. He is better in the pass game, but he wasn't as efficient or as productive as he should be in a couple of pass pro deals."
MEDIA: Does he understand that you are not being negative on him and are just coaching him?
KW: "I think so. Again, my thing to him all the time, as long as he has been here, is that you are awfully good. But how good do you want to be? It is those little things to me that make the difference. It is not how much weight he can carry and jump up on a block. There are not 84,000 people watching him jump on that block, they are watching him play. That means if you see a blitz in front of you, pick it up. That means if you need to get enough space to open up the curl route, you get enough space. If the cut is there you stick it and you make it a decisive cut.
"We had a drive stopped in the fourth quarter because he looked to make a cut instead of just sticking it and getting four or five (yards). Instead, it is 3rd-and-10 and we are off the field. He is never going to be perfect, nobody is, but you are striving to get there. I think he understands that because I think he takes a lot of pride in his performance. I talked to him immediately after the game, sat with him beside his locker and told him that he is not close to what he needs to play like and he said, 'I know.' I think he is a good judge of himself. I think he has high standards because I think he wants to be a great player. I think he appreciates being pushed."
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