At times, the Sooners had to abandon their desire to run the ball during the 2009 season. Injuries decimated the offensive line and Kevin Wilson was forced to turn to a shotgun, spread-formation offense just to survive last season. This year, the Sooners are working to re-emphasize the running game behind Demarco Murray and a talented group of backups.
One player who expects to fit into a key backup role is sophomore Jermie Calhoun. Calhoun talked about the development of the running game and his role in the offense on Friday.
Q: Jeremy, how did the summer go for you knowing that you would enter the fall workouts as the second-team running back for the first time since you got here?
Jermie Calhoun: It went well. I worked a lot on my speed and I tried to put on some weight. I didn't quite get to where I want to be, but hopefully I'll be there by the time the first game rolls around.
Q: How different is it for you this fall as opposed to a year ago, now that you know you're going to be getting significant playing time?
Calhoun: I just know I have to step up and try to help as much as I can for the team. The second back has to play a big role this year, so I'm willing to make that step and be the second back the coaches want me to be.
Q: Is it a more anxious feeling though, knowing that this is your chance to finally prove what you have to offer?
Calhoun: Oh yeah, I'm ready to go. I'm tired of sitting over there on the sidelines. I'm ready to strap it on and play.
Q: Talk about the way the program chooses to handle their running backs and the way they use the dual-back system. The first team back might not be the sole feature, but do you see the positive side in that philosophy?
Calhoun: I like the way they do it. It gives everybody a chance to see what they have. Plus it helps out in the running game the more guys you have who can compete. You can't have enough speed.
Q: It's a philosophy not used by a whole lot of teams, did it surprise you, once you got on campus, when you saw how they worked it?
Calhoun: Yeah, because most schools do feature only one tailback, but here it's almost certain that they're going to feature two and sometimes you'll see a third back. So I'm ready to take that role and back up Demarco (Murray) this year and then go on from that.
Q: Physically, you've really always looked the part. But mentally, what have you learned from guys like Demarco and Chris Brown these last two years?
Calhoun: Just that you have to go hard every play. You have to treat it like it's your last whether it be in practice, a scrimmage or a game.
Q: There's a lot of noise coming from those youngsters, Brennan Clay and Roy Finch. What can those two guys add to an already deep running back position?
Calhoun: They're still learning, but at the same time they're getting the plays and they're going to be good backs in the future. They have an awful lot of talent.
Q: How did the running backs look in the scrimmage on Wednesday night?
Calhoun: I think we looked pretty good. We can be better, there's definitely more room for improvement. We have time though, it's not like we're playing a game tomorrow.
Q: Can you talk about the way the offense is coming together in this second week of fall practice and how the offensive line looks like they're making huge strides from a year ago
Calhoun: I think we have a lot of players, now, who care and are ready to step up and protect Landry. I think our offensive line will be real good this year. I see them every day working their tail off to make sure Landry has time to throw the ball.