Bob Stoops put his Sooners through a very physical practice on Monday and the coaches constantly stayed on the team. The Monday practice was not a walk in the park and there was a sense of urgency to the workout.
No position went through more, or was under more scrutiny than the offensive line. They were the last to leave the field on Monday at around 7:00 p.m., some 30 minutes after the rest of the team finished practice.
After the practice I had a chance to talk with offensive line coach and run coordinator Kevin Wilson for a candid conversation that you can only get on OUInsider.com.
JH: When I talked to you on Sunday you said that you wanted to see more aggressiveness and more urgency out of your offensive line. Did you get that at practice today?
KW: "We were striving real hard out there today for that attitude and sense of urgency. Quite honestly, if we don't start doing it then I am going to make some changes with the guys. This isn't real hard and we have made things as simple as we can make it. If we are not going to start practicing with some passion, effort and zeal then we are going to make some changes."
"I am tired of pleading and begging and I am not into pointing fingers. They are either going to start getting it done or get replaced. We are into Big 12 play and there are ways champions practice and perform. You don't have to be perfect, but you need to be physical, tough and come to play everyday. We need to start picking up the plays. I am tired of talking about it. If they don't pick it up then there are going to be some changes with that group."
JH: If you are playing physical can that at times make up for a missed assignment?
KW: "I just talked to them about things we need to do tomorrow and not once did I say you have to make every block or be perfect. I promise they are not going to be. However, let's quit accepting failure and let's quit waiting for somebody else to make a play. Quit waiting for a nice pass or a defensive turnover. Let's pull our end of the rope on this team. Let's be physical. Let's fight and let's play with some passion. I am not talking about this anymore. I have talked and talked and talked."
"We have had good practices, but we need to transfer it into performance with some personal pride and personal accountability. I have no doubt in our kids talent, but whether it is a lack of confidence or trust we need to pick it up and pull that end of the rope."
JH: Do you have a player who you would consider your go-to offensive lineman? A player that if you needed a guaranteed big block that you would run behind?
KW: "I wouldn't say go-to-guys, but maybe go-to things. We have actually looked to simplify a few things to make sure that we can get good and go to those things in the game Saturday. Against South Florida I looked to Wes (Sims) and I asked him what play did he want me to call that he would have success with. He told me to use this play and we did , and ran for 10 to 12 yards on it. We were lulling around and finally popped one. Not that is the play that we will always go to nor do we want to feature him, but again it is proves that if Wes feels comfortable about things he can be effective."
"We are trying to get a lot of players involved with multiple formations and maybe we have created too many schemes. Maybe we are working with too many things in an effort to marry to many things together. My guys aren't mature enough to keep from thinking about all those adjustments. A confident team knows what they are doing. They play fast and play physical. I have looked again at my call sheet and I am reducing that down and we are going to play a lot harder."
"Whether we get a go-to-play or two out of that, or a go-to player to run behind I don't know, but I hope that we will. We are going to reducing it and we are going to get it going hard, they are going to get going hard or they can sit. Heck, we can have the defense go both ways, because I know they are playing hard right now. I am going to talk to Coach Stoops about this, because we are either going to get it going or we are going to make some real changes out there."
JH: Because Wes Sims is on the edge, everybody notices everything that he does. Many people feel he is not playing very well. Is that the case?
KW: "The last game Wes was really pretty good. He got bull rushed twice by a kid that is a pretty good pro prospect. He was a 4.52 forty kid that benches 480 pounds and who I thought was a pretty good player. Now, the left tackle gets those kinds of players and he needs to handle that."
"Quite honestly, Mike Skinner struggled more at right guard, a position where you shouldn't struggle. He had some missed assignments, gave up two sacks himself and some pressures."
"Wes gets exposed a little, but he is a young player who is getting better and I am not getting down on him yet. I think that he still lacks the trust and belief in the things he does in practice when the lights go on. He is still a guy that looks good on the driving range, but not on the course yet. Again, he is doing well in practice and, Saturday against South Florida, was one of his best performances to date. He worked hard last week when we challenged him so I am not real down on him right now."
JH: Two years ago you didn't have any depth, but now you can at least think about making changes with some quality talent, especially with your freshmen?
KW: "Yeah, we do have that. But again, if you are not going to pull your end of the rope I don't need you out there. When we don't go out there and can't play physical, can't get any push on a double team, or we can't base block and knock the guy off the ball on a consistent basis then I have to ask if I am wasting my time with certain guys. I don't think it is a physical thing with our players. I watch us work at practice and we have some very talented players, who quite often, I feel good about."
"Again, I don't know if they can close that bridge on that confidence factor to come to the plate and take a big swing. All I know is that it is Big 12 time and we are a championship team around here and there are ways champions work, practice, perform and play, and we are going to start playing that way on the offensive line or we are going to shuffle it up and go to something else. I am tired of asking and I am tired of waiting. It is time to play and I think we are good enough. Let's see how we respond and go this week."
JH: What kind of defense will Missouri play on Saturday?
KW: "They are a 4-4 defense, eight-man front a little like UTEP was. They pride themselves on some pressure and they will bring some overloaded man pressures. They do have a nice inside player in Keith Wright, who was second team all league last year. Antwaun Bynam has six sacks. They do bring a lot of pressure, but I don't know much speed they have on the outside. They are an attacking defense. I saw this defense for eight years when I was at Miami and Coach Gary Pinkel was at Toledo. It is the Virginia Tech eight man front and they probably don't move into their 'Bear' defense as much because of their lack of man coverage."
"They work to put pressure on you. They attack and have success putting pressure on you. I think they will try to keep us in front of them not wanting to give up the big play. They want to make us go the distance, making us work for our points. Not many offenses can go four yards at a pop and maintain that for 70 yards. They are very good at turnover ratio. I think their quarterback has only been sacked three to four times on the year and they have 14 sacks. So, they do the things that winners do and that is the trademark of Coach Pinkel's teams."
"They have a balanced offense, great kicking game and they will try to Alabama us, by scheming us in the kicking game. They will try to make us work, keep it a one possession game and get us into the fourth quarter where they can take their shot. You know you get into a 15 round fight and get lucky with one punch and get us. Our plan is to be more physical, more consistent. Get our running backs sticking the ball up there. Have Nate make plays in the passing game and let our receivers go to work. We are not that far away and we have to get it going this week."
Wilson says changes could come soon on line
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