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August 14, 2010At 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.