Wilson tinkers with line during off-week

Oklahoma Offensive Line Coach and Run Game Coordinator Kevin Wilson talks about the differnet combinations he's tried with his linemen during the off-week. Senior tackle Wes Sims (pictured above) pass blocks for Jason White during the Sooners' 31-7 win over Oregon. (AP Photo/Jerry Laizure)

The Oklahoma offensive line is better, deeper and more versatile this year. It is one of the big reasons why the Sooners have a better offense this year. OU Run Game Coordinator and offensive line coach Kevin Wilson recently talked to OUinsider.com about a much improved unit on the Sooner squad.

JH: You played with two reserves in Chris Bush and Chris Messner in the victory over Oregon. Doesn't that prove that you have more depth this year in the offensive line?

KW: "Yeah, it did a little bit. Chris Messner played the best he has played than at any time this year. I am talking practice, scrimmages, the Houston game or whatever. This game he got in under fire and got in pass protection a little too deep and got called for holding, which cost us seven. However, I had him for three minus plays out of 18 plays and four knockdowns in 18 snaps. That was very good to see.

"Chris Bush is a starter to me anyway, so I don't really see him as a reserve. The only problem with Chris was that he was going so much for Davin at right (guard) and Davin didn't really practice until Thursday. For him to go back to left, I thought Chris made a nice adjustment for us. Davin played well off his injury, but I think he was rusty in the first half and then played a very good second half. I count a lot on Chris Bush, and it was nice to see Chris Messner get in there and play well."

JH: What would have you done if Davin couldn't go knowing that Kelvin Chaisson had mono? Would (John) Flynn have started?

KW: "Yes, John would have started at right guard. I also had Akim Millington ready to play right guard if we needed him and we had Chris Chester working some at left guard last week. We had a little round-robin going this week. Davin didn't feel comfortable at left tackle, but we were going to rest Wes this week. He is fine, with nothing other than a bruised knee, so I worked Jammal (Brown) some at left tackle. We looked at what we have with a combination of Jammal and Messner, if down the road Wes couldn't finish a game. I think Akim has really done well, even though Chris (Messner) really played well. Akim has done really well at right tackle. Davin looked great at right tackle in preseason. So, as an emergency plan down the road with this week being open, we tried to take care of Vince (Carter) and some old guys so we didn't practice them hard. We worked a lot of the young guys and we also looked at some teams that we will play down the road."

JH: Are you experimenting to see if you want to do go a different direction this year to enhance your depth?

KW: "We are working to come up with more depth. We are looking at the matchups of who might be the next best five. If we have a problem and Wes is injured, then maybe Messner comes in there. Then, maybe it is Jammal at left tackle or Akim at left tackle. Maybe it is Jammal at left and Davin at right, with Kelvin, Bush and Chester inside. What is the best combination of five without screwing us up if one of our starters gets hurt?

Our protection concepts are similar, and on our run concepts you have to know if you are blocking play-side or back-side. It is also getting comfortable getting in a left-hand or right-hand stance. Moving guys around is not too much for them to handle. Just messing around this week Jammal looked pretty good at left tackle, so maybe we will have that in the works if we need him there down the road."

JH: Many people wonder why Jammal is not your left tackle. Why do certain guys wind up at certain positions?

KW: "When I got here Wes had already started as a freshman and Jammal wasn't really a factor. Jammal's first spring, he wasn't going hard all the time. And if you remember, he actually finished spring as a second team guy. I just thought we had a little bit more consistency and a little more knowledge with Wes on the left side. We were a little bit more sound. Jammal might be a better athlete, but I thought as a young player Wes was mentally more of an offensive lineman at that time and we could count on him. Now, they have so many reps at their positions and we have had a chance to play for a Big 12 Championship the last two years. So, it is not like something is broken. It is not like we have been horrible in the offensive line or at left tackle or right tackle. This week was actually the first time that I had Jammal practice a snap at left tackle and he looked alright."

JH: Did you work a lot with the young guys?

KW: "Yeah, I worked a lot with (Randy) McAdams and Cameron Schacht. J.D. Quinn, I already work with him with us, but we give all those guys some plays as we prepare for upcoming games. It was a good week to work on fundamentals, but it was also a good week to work some young guys too."

JH: Do coaches like off weekends? Most of the time coaches have to hit the road recruiting, so you really don't get the weekend off do you?

KW: "What is fun is that we don't have the hectic world of game week of getting to this meeting, watch this tape and get this planned up. It does give you a chance to catch your breath, to look at are our strengths and weaknesses. We know we are doing a lot of good things, but there are a lot of good things that we can get better at. We work on things schematically and just took a close look at ourselves and what we are doing. Offensively, we look at opponents, but a lot of times you just keep looking at yourself and where we can get better. We look at what our tendencies and our strength and weaknesses and go from there."

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