It may be no coincidence that the offensive line began to take off when Chris Messner was inserted into the starting line-up at right tackle and left there.
While not the biggest or most talented offensive lineman, Messner has emerged as one of the best on the roster thanks to his great work ethic and technical base.
The status of starting right guard J.D. Quinn is still up in the air at press time following a violation of team rules off the field, but on Monday Quinn still practiced with the first unit alternating with senior Chris Bush.
Bush is learning how to play with a broken hand suffered in the Nebraska game leaving freshman Jon Cooper and senior Chris Chester at center on Monday, while Kevin Chaisson is set left guard and Davin Joseph at left tackle.
As for Messner, he has been able to hold off freshman Branndon Braxton for several week and OU Run Game Coordinator and offensive line coach Kevin Wilson says that he has won the right tackle job.
Following practice on Monday, I had a chance to talk with the player who has become on of the very best on the Sooner offensive front for the OUInsider Two Minute Drill.
JH: I think it is great that after so many times that people tried to write you off of the offensive line saying your weren't big enough or whatever, and now you are a solid starter aren't you?
CM: "I just believe that every week I have to come in and work just like everybody else, and I want to be just as good as everybody else. I just come in and work hard to make the team better and to make the guys next to me better. If that pays off then the whole team is getting better then I should be playing. I don't listen to what other people say, I just listen to the guys who are around me. They believe I should play so that is pretty much it."
JH: Your perseverance has paid off for you hasn't it?
CM: "Perseverance at this level is certainly something that you have to have. If you don't have it you can be like a lot of guys who do not think it is worth it. Or you can stick with it and make your dream come true. I like to keep trying because I like football and it is just what I am all about. I just work to persevere and work to get through it and do my best."
JH: Now that you are definitely an offensive lineman do you ever think back to those days in high school when you were a quarterback?
CM: "Not really. No. Quarterbacks definitely have it good, but I like being an o-linemen now. It is definitely where all the work gets done."
JH: You have always been battling size and you are always trying to get bigger. Are you close to being where you want to be now?
CM: "I still have to get there. I am still a little short. I am definitely trying and if I keep working like I am I know I will get bigger."
JH: What do you weigh right now?
CM: "I weigh about 280 pounds."
JH: Your next growth spurt in the off-season should put you at 295, so you are on your way. What are some of the things you have done to try to get bigger? Can you eat anything you want?
CM: "Yeah, the sky is the limit. I eat a lot of protein shakes and a lot of late-night eating. You know that kind of thing."
JH: Why has this offensive line played better the last four weeks than it did in the first five weeks of the season?
CM: "I think because we came in and decided we were going to work week-in and week-out starting on that off-week. With that hard work it just paid off. Everybody saw the good things that were happening. I think that is where the greatest change has been."
JH: Did everybody buy into the improved work ethic in the offensive line?
CM: "I think so. I think we all realized that we needed to come in every week and work hard. That made the difference in how we are playing?
JH: How much has a consistent line-up helped in the offensive line?
CM: "I think of it this way — I think everybody has a job to do and if you come and work hard at whatever you are doing, then it is going to pay off for us no matter who is in the line-up. So, if a guy at this level comes in and works hard he is going to be alright and he will be right there with everybody else or be better than everybody else."
JH: What are your thoughts on Texas A&M?
CM: "They look like a good team to me. We need to come ready to work, but we are playing pretty well. Right now we are only worried about Texas A&M. We just want to concentrate on Texas A&M."
JH: Coach Wilson says you a very good technician and that sets you apart from some of the other players on your unit. How did you become so good technically?
CM: "It pays off a lot. You can take the biggest most athletic guy and if he has two left feet he probably wouldn't do very well. If you take a medium-sized guy and he goes out there and works hard and gets better at his technique, then he will be alright."
Messner making the most of his opportunity
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