Q&A: With QB coach Alex Wood

Alex Wood not only survived a trying season, he survived the coaching turnover. Head coach Mike Tice said Wood will be assigned the task of making Daunte Culpepper a better student of the game and studying more film.

Alex Wood joined the Vikings in 1999 as a position coach at the most important position on the field, according to popular opinion. It was also considered a position of great depth in his first season. Not only did he coach the 1998 Miller Lite Player of the Year in Randall Cunningham, but he had two first-round draft picks (Jeff George and Daunte Culpepper) behind Cunningham and talented third-year quarterback Todd Bouman.

Last year there was much more grooming going on with Wood and Culpepper, as the latter took over as the starter of an offense that showed it could still put up big points in a hurry. Culpepper made the offense even more versatile and went to the Pro Bowl in his first season as a starter. This year, backups Bouman and Spergon Wynn have seen more starts because of injuries than ever before in the Dennis Green era.

Wood was previously the head coach at James Madison from 1995-98. Before that, he was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Wake Forest for two years. From 1989-92 he coached the running backs at the University of Miami. He was also a position coach with Washington State, Wyoming and Southern University.

Q: Were you satisfied with Todd Bouman's play before he was forced out because of injury?

A: Todd went and performed well when he was capable of doing it. We were pleased with that.

Q: How much does it help you as a coach that entering the offseason you have been able to see Bouman and Wynn in game situations?

A: Playing experience obviously helps you to evaluate a player. Seeing a guy, what he does when he's under the gun and it's a live situation, all of those will give us a good assessment of each guy in live conditions, game conditions. So it's good.

Q: You brought back Romaro Miller in December. What do you feel he offers to the team?

A: He has got good, natural abilities. He's a little rusty right now because he has been off for a while. But we think he has got great potential and what they call a good upside. He's got a nice ball; he can move around and has some athleticism. So there are some good things with Romaro.

Q: How much progress had Daunte Culpepper made before getting hurt this season?

A: He made some progress, but we fielded a different team offensively this year and that presented some different challenges for the quarterback. I thought he handled it well for the most part. He can always do better and you can always see things you can do differently and better in retrospect. But as he finished up playing, even in the Pittsburgh game where he was slightly hurt a little bit, I thought he was doing a nice job and a job that would have enabled us to win some of these games that we didn't win here in the end.

Q: What types of things would you have done differently?

A: Earlier we tried to make some things happen that weren't there. Trying to force the improvement instead of just letting it happen. But other than that, I think he was playing well.

Q: In a perfect world, does Culpepper not have to run as much as he did this season?

A: Right. You wouldn't like to see your quarterback in this league be your leading rusher. He was doing that during his time playing. We would rather see one of the backs do that and he just kind of adds on to create another element for the defense they have to defend. VU

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