Below are excerts from OU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson's meeting with the media on Tuesday.
On if Paul Thompson is playing better than he expected
Wilson: I think it's above what you guys expected. I don't think he's played his best yet. He's getting better. He's a guy who accepts coaching, works hard and he does have some skills. Like every player, he has limitations — things he likes, things he doesn't like.
But again, we think he's playing good. We're not surprised. We actually think he'll continue to play better. And we'll need him to this week and we'll need him to down the stretch.
On if OU's explosiveness against a stacked box is going to eventually give defensive coordinators to consider doing some different things in the coming weeks
Wilson: It's risk-reward. At the same time, like most teams you want to stop the run. You don't want to let that big running back get going. The athletes that Texas has and their package, their structure and their style, they'll be significantly more sound in their placement of players. Their players are able to play with speed and still support the run and be in better pass alignment.
We've been able to take advantage of some teams' over-commitment to get players up there. I don't think they felt they could get up there to stop the run, and that left some players on some islands.
There will be some times once in a while where some Texas secondary players will be on some islands, but they're better players. They can handle matchups one-on-one better. And at the same time, their safeties can play a little bit more true pass alignment and still support the run like the two Griffin brothers do.
Some things we've seen in previous weeks will get defended differently this week, just because of the caliber of the opponent, their style and their package and what they do.
On what Thompson needs to do to improve
Wilson: He's making some plays, but he's missing some things. We've got to be a little bit more efficient down in the red zone in some of our pass plays and protection and getting on target.
It's like any sport, any player, you'll miss some jumpshots and you're gonna miss a free throw once in a while. He is human. But again, I think he's gaining confidence, he's getting better, he's getting the majority of our reps in practice.
Not that by any means he's played poorly, he's played really well. But we definitely think he'll continue to improve, and he's working that way. He knows that and I think he has a lot of confidence in himself. But I think he knows he can continue to be better. I don't think he's satisfied.
On the offensive line coming into the OU-Texas game this year compared to last year
Wilson: The experience level still isn't there, but I think athletically they're really good and they're gaining on it. This will be another strong task and a strong challenge.
I think the way they handled some things, for example, playing Washington early, struggling a little bit but playing good down the stretch. Going to Oregon and struggling early, but having some composure and confidence playing well. I think we played well in practice against our defense, so I think they're gaining confidence.
My concern is when you're young like those guys are and they have had success, people start telling them how good they are. And we kind of reminded them — let's remember where we came from. Let's remember what everybody said about this group and we were going to be the achilles heel of our football team.
Let's keep our edge and keep our mindset, because as soon as a linemen or a blocking tight end start thinking they're really pretty good, all the sudden they lose their edge and there's not as much aggression or finish in their effort and preparation.
We feel good about them. They're still a work in progress. They're playing pretty good right now. They'll continue to get better, they'll practice better. Coach Patton's doing a great job with those guys. But I think in time, that has a chance to be one of the strongest groups that's played here across the board.
Everybody talks about how well Adrian plays at the end of the game, but I think it's also a team effort. I think our line is in great shape. Those tight ends and receivers keep coming at guys.
I think it's a part of our whole group that in some of these games, as Adrian's numbers have gotten better in the second half, I think we've just put our kids in better places in play-calling.
I think the total conditioning part of our offense and are builds are where if we keep coming at people we can wear guys down, not just Adrian. I think that's a group deal personally.
On Texas' defense
Wilson: I think they're real good. They're solid up front. Everybody's making a big deal about Brian Robison's, who I think's a great player, injury. But I think they're other two ends have just as many sacks as he does. One has two, one has three.
Of course, Tim Crowder has 4.5. I think they've got about 12.5, 13 sacks at d-end, caused I think 200-and-some net yards of negative offense, whether it be runs or sacks. Their backers are very active. They played a couple young guys last week that are going to be good players.
They're secondary is really good too. I think people have gotten away from running the ball at them, but they play run defense well enough that they get you going to the pass a little bit. Everybody says you can throw on them, but Iowa State had 18 rushes and threw it 47 times. Ohio State, I think, had 23 rushing attempts. People have tried to throw the ball (against them).
We'll try to keep our mix, keep our running game going but we'll compliment it with the pass like we've done. But they're solid, they're well-coached and they're a good football team.
I think our guys are looking forward to the challenge. I think we went to Oregon and grew up a lot in a tough place. I think we're looking forward to seeing where we're at with this guys.
We've got some good, young players that are starting to believe. We don't need to play a great game, we need to play good offensive football. We need to take care of the ball, be physical, be sound. We need to make some plays, and the team that does is going to win.
We're going to practice hard enough this week that hopefully, given the chance, that's going to be us.
On having a good mix of run and pass
Wilson: We're just trying to have enough mix that the defense just can't pin their ears back and tee off on the run game, get you in third and long and then tee off and get after your quarterback. That's what Texas has done a great job of.
They've done a great job on first and second down of limiting a lot of teams' success, a lot of teams' consistency. They get you in third and long with good coverage with fast guys and they tee off and come at you.
You've got to keep your mix up of run and pass. At the same time, you've got to do things to make sure you're doing the best you can to stay off third and long.
Like any great team, when you're watching tape they're (Texas) third down and long tape's really long and their third down and short tape's really short. What are their third and short tendencies? Well, it's hard to tell because people haven't been there a lot.
Same thing on the goal line, that's just the sign you're playing a heck of a team. Quite honestly, they have an excellent defensive football team, but we're as much concerned about us.
On how they're playing compared to last year
Wilson: It's hard to go back and draw comparisons because each year's different. I think we're young on the line but those guys are playing as group. There's a lot of cohesion in that group. In some ways, it's a heck of a lot better.
The tight end position has been playing pretty well for us. A lot of these kids last year at receiver were freshman and you could see some timidness, where I think now they've had some success as the season went through last year. And as we went through this preseason, we've gained and grown a lot. So hopefully we'll be more competitive there.
Quarterback's a different situation with Paul being a veteran. I really liked the way he handled the Oregon atmosphere when things weren't good, and his demeanor and his composure. I think that's something we can build on.
I think we've had a chance to play in a big game in a hostile place when things weren't in our favor. There's a lot of things that went against us. That game didn't go the way we wanted from the get go. We were fighting an uphill battle and for those kids to hang in there and play they way they played gives us a great deal of confidence as coaches in them and their abilities.
And I think our kids gained a lot of confidence from that game. We've got some momentum, but there will be some tough sledding against this Texas defense. But I like our group and I like where we're at.
On the status of fullback Matt Clapp
Wilson: He's been practicing. He practiced last week. Last week he did a lot of individual and fundamental stuff. We kept him out of team, this week he's doing everything.
Manuel Johnson is back full-tilt. We're reasonably healthy. For this time of the year and going into week nine, week 10, after two-a-days, we're extremely healthy offensively.
Wilson talks offense
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