Archive for Saturday, September 2, 2006

Sooner offense prepares secretly

OU has worked out mostly in privacy, keeping offense shrouded in mystery

September 2, 2006


— What does Oklahoma have in store on offense this year? A new play-caller, a new quarterback and a whole lot of mystery.

Bob Stoops' Sooners have worked largely in privacy since opening camp on Aug. 3. Oklahoma's first four practices were open to the public and the media before a shutdown. After that, the Sooners held one open scrimmage that was announced and another unannounced one at a pep rally for students.

Those few glimpses have been the only chance for fans, media and UAB - the opponent for the 10th-ranked Sooners in their season opener today - to decipher what new offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson has planned for new quarterback Paul Thompson and the rest of the offense.

"It is obviously a concern. Oklahoma closed practice to everyone, so no one knows what they are doing," UAB coach Watson Brown said. "Thompson is obviously an athletic kid who is 6-4, 230 pounds and can play wide receiver. We are going to have to react on the run after the game starts and we see what he is doing."

Oklahoma insists this isn't 1970, when coach Chuck Fairbanks and offensive coordinator Barry Switzer installed the wishbone offense in 13 days. But players and coaches aren't giving out specifics on what Wilson's offense will look like, either.

Spread or no spread?

As the offensive coordinator at Northwestern, Wilson ran a spread offense, but he has said that was because the Wildcats lacked high-caliber fullbacks and tight ends.

"I don't know if it's going to be radically different," said Wilson, a co-offensive coordinator for the Sooners last season while Chuck Long called the plays. "Maybe in some ways, but to us it's not because it's the same terminology and a lot of the same guys. I don't think we feel like a lot of this is significantly different.

"We might lean in certain directions more because maybe that's our strengths right now. I don't think it's going to look like the offense is just completely brand new and completely different."

Wilson has said he will use multiple formations and play to the strengths of his players. Star tailback Adrian Peterson excels in the I-formation and single back sets, when he's able to get a running start and batter his way through defenders. Thompson is a fan of bootlegs and plays that allow him to make plays on the edge.

"We've got a couple of twists and turns," Peterson said. "Saturday's coming. You'll be able to see."

The 2004 Heisman Trophy runner-up later relented a little.

"There's a couple of new plays thrown in, like every other team has new plays," Peterson said. "But it's not any changes that are going to shock everybody."

Stoops suggested that there's a reason for closing the practices, beyond preventing information from getting out to opponents.

Distraction action

"Just all the distractions," Stoops said. "Our players have enough to deal with. It's hot out there, it's 105 degrees. You're hustling to get to a meal because we've got a meeting in a little bit, then we're getting back out on the field later.

"It's just they've got enough to do and they're not professional athletes."

Stoops said he believes Oklahoma provides a fair amount of access to media and fans, but there's a point where it makes sense to put up some barriers.

"I just think there's too much information that gets out," he said. "There's no sense in broadcasting to everybody what you're doing."

Wilson said complete openness can have its advantages too.

"Sometimes if they know what's coming, they've got to work on stuff," Wilson said. "A lot of people say in the first game, don't do something, hold it for this opponent.

"Some people say show them everything so they've got to worry about it and work on it."


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