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Sooner Report: Oklahoma Drill
August 06, 2013

History of the Famed Oklahoma Drill

Monday’s practice marked the first day that the Sooners donned full pads, which, of course, meant one thing: It was time for the famed Oklahoma Drill.

The drill, created in the 1940s by OU’s legendary coach Bud Wilkinson, pits offensive linemen against defensive linemen in a small area surrounded by tackling dummies. Then, a ball carrier enters the picture as the defender tries to shake the lineman. It provides an early chance for coaches to see players in a full-contact situation. In addition to big collisions, there’s usually ample opportunity for teammates to whoop and holler as the action unfolds.

We reached out to Wilkinson’s son, Jay, for an explanation of his father’s purpose behind the drill.

“My father always felt that football success was generally based upon who could win the line of scrimmage,” Wilkinson explained. “This drill emphasizes the importance of that task. It is one that stresses the important of contact itself and the speed with which players must get off the block and make the tackle if they are defensive players or move their feet and maintain the contact if they are offensive players. Whoever wins the contact will dominate the line of scrimmage.”

While the Oklahoma Drill has been utilized by college, pro and high school teams for decades, its origins at Owen Field have remained a source of Sooner pride for decades.


Bud Wilkinson

O-Line Experience

Last season, the Sooners enduring several key injuries on the offensive front. While that did cause some shuffling on the blocking unit, one of the by-products was several players stepping into more prominent roles earlier than anticipated during their OU careers.

“There’s just more depth and more guys available to play,” head coach Bob Stoops indicated. “There’s more competition, which is always a good thing. Guys are making each other stay on the field and play, which you’re going to have to do if you want to keep your spot because there’s competition.”

To redshirt junior offensive lineman Tyrus Thompson, it is good that the unit has so many players returning to its group.

“Everybody is getting reps; everyone is understanding it,” Thompson said. “With all the people being back, everyone knows their assignments. It’s not like you got new guys in there just trying to figure out the plays as we go, it’s guys that are experienced and it just looks really good right now from an O-line standpoint but still a lot of work to do.”

Another plus for the offensive line is that many of the players gained weight and strength during the offseason, which co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel believes is another benefit and will aid the running game.

“I do believe that the size and strength that those guys have gained during the off-season and the depth we have at those positions is creating a better scenario for us where I think we will be tougher and more physical to run the football a little more efficiently and consistently,” Heupel stated. “We ran the ball well at times a year ago, but I think we could be more consistent.”

In addition to the returners, some junior college linemen, including juniors Dionte Savage and Josiah St. John, have joined the Sooners, adding even more competition for spots in the unit.

“They are big strong guys,” Stoops said of Savage and St. John. “Dionte has great strength; he is a real big physical guy. I don’t know what they list him at, 340-345 and there is not a lot of fat there, he’s powerful. And Josiah is doing well, too.”

Stoops indicated on Tuesday that Savage is working at guard and St. John is concentrating his efforts at tackle.


Bronson Irwin

Running Back Logjam – A Good Problem to Have

The eyes of Sooner Nation have been focused on the battle for the quarterback position this off-season, but another unit on the team features multiple players competing for playing time: the running backs.

According to Stoops, it is not uncommon for the Sooners to have several running backs from which to choose. However, it may be a bit unusual to have four experienced seniors all competing for snaps – Trey Millard, Damien Williams, Brennan Clay and Roy Finch.

Heupel shared that all four of those players have been effective and efficient.

“All those guys need touches because they can make plays effectively,” Heupel said. “They’re experienced and explosive. Is there a guy who may end up carrying it 20-25 times a game? Possibly. It depends on how these guys separate themselves during fall camp and throughout the season. All four of those guys are going to have an opportunity, and they’ve been great so far.”

One of those running backs, Clay, believes the team has a chance to establish a dominant running game this season.

“All of us, once we touch the ball, are capable of doing things, and we are so excited to be putting the pads back on,” Clay said. “This carousel of running backs we have is pretty good, and I think we have one of the best backfields in the nation.”

“These guys are all doing well, and the number of snaps we get and with the tempo we go at we need a good number of guys to be in there. We’ve got some pretty good ones,” Stoops said of his running back corps.

Stoops went on to add that a few years ago, the Sooners started the season with five or six running backs but were down to two or three by the middle of the season. Thus, it is important to have a strong and deep group because of the possibility of injuries or certain situations.


Brennan Clay

SiriusXM Live Broadcast on Wednesday

Fans can tune in to SiriusXM 91 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. CT Wednesday as @SiriusXMCollege will be in Norman broadcasting live from the Switzer Center. OU Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Programs and Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione, Stoops and OU players are anticipated to join hosts Mark Packer and former Ole Miss and Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt during the three-hour broadcast.

Make sure to follow the official @OU_Football Twitter feed for photos and highlights. The SoonerVision crew will also try to track down Coach Nutt for his thoughts on the Sooners in 2013.

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