Sugar Bowl notebook: Dual-coordinator system seems to work for Oklahoma offense
by Marq Burnett
mburnett@annistonstar.com
Dec 30, 2013 | 1806 views |  0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Alabama defensive back Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, left, clowns around by interviewing defensive lineman Jeoffrey Pagan during the Crimson Tide's defensive press conference Monday at the Marriot at Convention Center in New Orleans. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
Alabama defensive back Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, left, clowns around by interviewing defensive lineman Jeoffrey Pagan during the Crimson Tide's defensive press conference Monday at the Marriot at Convention Center in New Orleans. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
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NEW ORLEANS -- Along with a dual-quarterback system, Oklahoma runs a dual-offensive coordinator system. Josh Heupel and Jay Norvell have served as co-offensive coordinators for the Sooners since the 2010 season, and it seems to be working for the pair.

“More times we agree more than disagree,” Heupel said during the Sooners’ Monday news conference. “But I’m up in the press box, I’m calling it. We work together throughout the course of the week.”

Heupel is a former Sooners quarterback. Norvell is a former defensive back and linebacker. Both played in the NFL. Norvell said the two think alike.

“We’ve worked very good together before we were named to these positions, and it’s continued on,” Norvell said as the Sooners prepare to face Alabama in Thursday's Sugar Bowl. “We think alike in a lot of different ways. And I think it’s my job just to remind Josh of things we talked about, ways that we want to attack people.”

Trey DePriest

After announcing his plan to return for his senior season, Alabama linebacker Trey DePriest gave a few details on what went into the decision during his Monday media session.

DePriest said it had nothing to do with where he might be drafted. Instead, his goal is to rewrite his family's’ history.

“I’m doing it because no one in my family ever went to college, let alone graduate,” DePriest said. “I only have 24 more hours to graduate and I wanted to come back and set a new trend for my family.”

DePriest said he hasn’t given much thought to the leadership role he will take on next season, but added he is prepared for the challenge. DePriest said it’s his responsibility because the younger guys don’t have the “stripes to step into something like that.”

“I get a lot of respect from the younger guys,” DePriest said. “They all like me and we get along well so it shouldn’t be too hard.”

HaHa Clinton-Dix

If Alabama junior safety HaHa Clinton-Dix will bypass his senior season and head to the NFL, he isn't saying.

“I have not sat down and talked with my mother or coach (Nick) Saban so that’s not really what I’m focused on right now,” Clinton-Dix said when asked about his plans Monday.

Clinton-Dix said it has been difficult not to peek ahead at the NFL process, but has done his best to remain focused on the Sugar Bowl.

Three other Alabama NFL draft-eligible juniors addressed the issue with reporters this week in New Orleans. DePriest has made his decision, while left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan still are weighing their options.

Tide linebacker Adrian Hubbard is another junior who will have to make a decision on his future. He graduated earlier this month.

Smart on the Iron Bowl

No matter how much time passes, Alabama still hasn’t been able to escape the result of the Iron Bowl.

Saban and players have commented on it multiple times, but defensive coordinator Kirby Smart hadn’t spoken his piece publicly about the loss until Monday. During his Monday news conference, Smart was asked what his emotions were during Chris Davis’ 100-yard touchdown return.

“Surreal and sickening altogether,” Smart said. “Obviously, before the timeout, we all saw, as coaches, the return guy back there. So the emphasis was put on covering the kick because we knew there was a possibility if it didn’t get through the end zone they would have a chance to return it.

“So to see him catch it and get past that first wave, it was over about the 50. And we knew that. So it went from surreal to sickening.”

Smart went on to say it was a bad feeling as coach because he wasn’t able to do anything about it, but he added the Tide must move on from it.
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