The offensive line is rounding into shape and is one of the big reasons why the Sooner offense has played better every game since the Texas game. Seniors have stepped up and played like experienced player,s and one true freshman is slowly becoming a star.
Oklahoma run game coordinator and offensive line coach Kevin Wilson has been working tirelessly to find ways to get this offensive line going, and through the last three games he has been successful.
How, why and what is the future of the Sooner offensive? We asked Coach Wilson earlier this week week on the OUInsider.com Two Minute Drill.
JH: Earlier in the year you said that the seniors were not playing up to their capabilities, but in the last four games they have been playing lights out. So what turned them around?
KW: "To me they were proven good players and we just challenged them to get back at practice and going hard, strong, and going in that type of way every day. We settled on some things scheme-wise that we wanted to hang our hats on and that we were going to try to be good at. We practiced really hard during that open week back early in the season where we re-laid the foundation of what we are doing and who we are doing it with.
With my seniors, when things got tough for us I talked a lot about my first-year player that I had here — Brad Davis. I told them about what a hard-working guy, what a tough guy Brad was and we have used him as an example for years. I told them that it would be great for them as seniors to not let this thing slip. I told them to bow up and to have some toughness and some pride, and to finish out this season real strong.
"We are halfway through with that and we had a good open date this week. Hopefully, as those guys play well they will continue to practice well and then finish these last three games really strong. Hopefully we will be fortunate enough to win all three and make it as strong as year as we can down to stretch."
JH: Is senior Kevin Chaisson playing the best football of his career?
KW: "He has always been an athletic guy, but he doesn't always play with a lot of punch or strength. He has gotten better at getting his hands inside and latching onto his guy and staying after his guy. He has been very consistent through the years with not a lot of busts. Sometimes we just want him to play a little more physical and a little bit stronger. He has played pretty well down the stretch and I am proud of him."
"Chris Bush was playing pretty good before he broke his hand. He was back practicing on Thursday. He has some wisdom teeth taken out on Monday and then a broken hand, yet he was back at practice on Thursday. We also have Chris Chester coming back and looking full-go.
"Those four guys, along with Brett Rayl, are five seniors who have played well. Brett stepped up for us in the Kansas game. I am proud of those guys and our young guys are gaining on them too."
JH: With Bush breaking his hand, Cooper coming on and Chester coming back, how will you shuffle the offensive line for the remainder of the season?
KW: "I really like Jon and how he is playing. Chris Chester was playing really well, but he has been out for about five weeks. He is back full-go and he is very athletic. He is actually generated a lot of strong interest from all the pro scouts who have been through because of his athleticism and the way that he has played. I would expect Jon to be playing some too.
"I don't want to change the centers a whole lot with Rhett. He is a young guy that I am trying to give some confidence with the snap, especially underneath center. If we were playing today I would say that Jon would go out there first against Texas A&M, but we will see how next week goes.
"J.D. Quinn will be at right guard. And if Chester goes to center, then maybe Jon rotates at right with Chris Bush over at right. We will play it by ear. I have a lot of confidence in those guys, but we are not going to have a revolving door.
"For the last five or six weeks we have been playing five or six guys and that consistency has allowed that group to play a little bit better. It is good to get Chester back and we will move Chris Bush over to a guard spot, but at the same time I don't want to change so much that I feel we are losing some rhythm or some continuity because those guys are playing pretty decent right now."
JH: You are always thinking ahead to the future and always thinking about next years offensive line, so can you can let us in on you're thinking and give as an idea how it might look in the future?
KW: "Chris Messner has kind of settled in at right tackl, and has kind of beaten out Branndon Braxton. He is playing some really solid good ball. He is a fourth-year guy and next year will be his fifth year. He will give us some steady play whether he starts or plays a whole lot. It will be based on competition because those young guys probably have more talent, but right now Chris is much more proven and much more consistent, reliable and he has played solid.
"Does that allow us to maybe keep Duke Robinson inside or does George play well enough to kick back out at tackle? Both he and Braxton, who are doing well playing as first-year freshmen along with Messner, give us three pretty good solid options at tackle. That is a fifth-year guy who is playing solid and two really talented guys. And if they end up being among our five best and Chris and Branndon are playing well enough, then we can keep Duke inside. If we need him at tackle then we will do that. We will go through the winter, spring and summer to see how that plays out."
"Jon has proven that he can play guard, but I think he has also proven that he can be a great center. Quinn has played really well at right guard and he made a great comment to me the other day. He said, 'Coach, at Nebraska it just seemed like things were going slower out there. I felt like I was seeing things, recognizing and anticipating blitzes and slants.' J.D. is getting a lot of play and he is playing well.
"Those five guys are getting experience and behind them we have Jessee White and Ben Barresi, who are being redshirted. That gives us two more young guys who I think are going to be good. They have not played yet, but I think they are going to be good. We have Cameron Schach
t and Aaron Rothenberg and that is it."
"So we are looking real hard recruiting-wise in the junior college market for a two or three. We have a couple of prep commitments now that we hope hold true. We are pushing some high school guys hoping to land a few more, and then maybe in time we will just have to see if there is a defensive lineman that we look at.
"We need to get our numbers back into that 14 or 15 player range. Right now we will start spring ball with seven. One of our recruits potentially can come in and be a mid-year player, and we will see what happens with the junior college players because a couple of those guys we are looking at are potential mid-year guys. I think we will go through spring two-deep at 10, and hopefully we will through the recruiting process get us back up to 14 or 15 where we are three-deep."
"With that group we would be looking at one senior. And without junior college players, you would be looking at a very talented sophomore group. Hopefully we are going to be able to land some great young guys and have a core of guys who in two or three years will grow and might have a chance to be a comparable group to the guys we just had in Jammal Brown, Wes Sims and Vince Carter.
"We will see how those guys mature in the next three years. Our numbers are thin, but one of the coaches said on our staff the other day that the pleasing thing is that all of them have a chance to be really good or great players. We hope in time they mature and be that for us."
Chaisson, seniors stepping up on the line
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