The Sooners concluded their 2007 spring football season with a with a brisk two and a half hour workout on Tuesday. Following the practice, OU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson talked to OUinsider.com for the Two Minute Drill.
JH: How good was this spring for the offensive line?
KW: "They have done well. It was the same group that wasn't going to be good, but now all of a sudden is great. It will be a great group if it keeps working hard and plays consistent. But we won't know how good they are until next season. They have been a great group who have been healthy, except for Phil's (Loadholt) toe that he broke. And until that time, he was doing awfully well. It is going to be the same kind of deal there as everybody is going to be thinking he has all this potential, but missing 10 practices is just like Jermaine (Gresham) missing five. That is good, but that is bad because you are missing some time.
"So how fast can we keep closing the window up to get them to what they can be? When they have been healthy, our pass protection has not been as good as it was in the fall. Our running game has been OK and the tight end/fullback group I think complements that group pretty well. The running backs complement that group pretty well. We have running backs now where you block it for four and they get six and seven. You block it six and seven and they get eight and 10 or a big one. With some running backs you get what you block, but with ours we get more.
"So it is a combination of all groups. Our wide receivers blocked and played as physical as they had all spring and all last year. Of course, last year we didn't think they were as physical in the run game as they could have been. There was some nice play-catching and pass-catching going on, but we didn't think they played as physical. Again, when you are running it is all those cats. My comment to the O-line and my comment to coach (James) Patton was that we have short memories around here. When I came in here in '01 the offense couldn't block anyone and the quarterbacks got killed in '01. So in '02 we had a young line that I thought was going to be good.
"The challenge for '03 and '04 was if you were going to be good you had be good every day and be a hard-working group. At that time, they turned out to be pretty close to that. This group is kind of like that. The '06 line was like the '02 line in that it was talented, but it just needed to play. This line can be at a high end, but will it be a consistent group and an everyday group? If it is a great line, it plays every week. That is a challenge.
"It won't be a great line until the end and we can look back and say, 'Hey, that group played with an attitude, with a fight and they loved competing every week.' That is always the challenge each week. It is not the physical, but the challenge is the consistency and the commitment to be an every day group."
JH: You have had two practices since the spring game, so how would you say those practices went?
KW: "Good. Yesterday was our last light day and we did our two-minute offense. We had 33-plays of two-minute and by the time we put it in we did it in pass skeleton, and did it in time to get the quarterbacks managing that. Yesterday, we put in a few little things that we had not got to yet and that we needed to work on. We did that today and the defense put in a lot more stuff today, and they kind of had the upper-hand on us with some new looks. We cut some guys clean and they had a great practice today. We had a problem with those looks and we missed on some things. We didn't tackle today so sometimes it is a case of is he down or he is not down.
"We can look at stats and see if it was a good or bad day in most cases, but not necessarily today. I thought a couple of the throws, we forced them into a couple of throws today that had not been there. Again, with some new looks that is good for those guys to see that. So the challenge for that whole group offensively, and remember there are only four seniors in this group, is that every day is a learning day. If we keep working and learning we have a chance to be a great team. It has been a heck of a spring and this team has a chance to be a great offense if it keeps going, but it is a long way from being that team."
JH: Don't your quarterbacks have to lead you through the off-season?
KW: "Well, they need to make sure those guys are coming to throw with them. The receivers need to help their group, and so do the tight ends. Now, in the summer things are kind of voluntary, but we have the rest of the semester, which is three weeks. We are not allowed to coach them, but they will be lifting and doing some things on their own. But once the summer starts it will be kind of on those guys.
"I think there will be a three-week break in May and we have some of our discretionary weeks where we have time where the kids are off when there is no lifting and the kids go home. Starting in June and July, you basically have a seven-week window there, I think it is four in June and three in July, where they are lifting and running. I told the guys today, and it is just like with Malcolm (Kelly) and Brody (Eldridge), I told them that their goal is not to get well. Their goal is to get better. I told them they need to be a better player.
"A goal for a guy like Jermaine Gresham is to be a better player the first day of practice without practicing. That is not just lifting in the weight room all the time. There is lifting and there is running, but there are things he can do to be a better football player by learning his trade and learning his skill. That is the challenge in the off-season when we can't be there as coaches. Are they driven enough and focused enough to work to be those kinds of players to be great players and have a great year."