It is still early in training camp and Sooner offensive line coach James Patton is working hard every day trying to mold a young but talented group into a unit that can protect senior quarterback Paul Thompson and lead junior running back Adrian Peterson.
Many feel if Patton's group can come together quickly the Sooners might just be playing for the National Championship at the end of the season. So how is the young group doing at this point in camp? We went straight to the source and got the opinion from coach Patton on the OUInsider.com Two Minute Drill.
JH: How are the early practices going for your group?
JP: "I will tell you what, I am really pleased so far. The kids are really working hard and they are doing a good job. The young guys are making that transition, especially the high school kids. They are doing a good job. I am especially impressed with Chase Beeler and Brandon Walker. Walker is stepping in as a junior college kid and doing a good job. Trent Williams, 'Big Cat' Curtis Bailey and Cory Brandon are all doing a nice job."
JH: The first day Duke Robinson played a number of positions, but since then you have played him at left guard. What are you trying to accomplish with Duke at this point?
JP: "Duke is a swing guy. He is going to be a guard, but he can also play tackle. Duke's biggest thing right now is that he has to have more stamina. That is what we are working on. We have been switching him in and out getting him some reps, and we are making sure he is being consistent with his play."
JH: You mentioned Walker. Is he playing well early?
JP: "Yes, Brandon Walker is doing a really nice job. He has the experience, being a junior college kid a couple of years, so he is getting himself in the right position. He is just getting reps which are going to make him better, especially going up against good people."
JH: How is Cooper coming along so far in camp?
JP: "Jon is doing a great job. He is still not maybe 100 percent, but boy he is playing hard in there and he has a great feel for the game. He is tough. I am excited that he is back."
JH: I know you are trying to develop centers, so how is that coming along?
JP: "Chase Beeler is doing well and (Ben) Barresi is doing well, but he has been sick a little bit. All three of those guys at center are doing a real good job, but with some of the center/quarterback exchanges we have to improve on those. We have had a couple of low snaps in the gun. It is just Chase getting the ball up and trusting it. The more reps he gets every day will make him better."
JH: You have all those young offensive linemen, but is the key right now just finding the right position for them to play?
JP: "The key is to have a good knowledge of the scheme for them, and not just try to memorize just what your position does. If they are a guard they are going to play either right or left guard. If they are a tackle they are going to play right or left tackle. I am trying to get them honed in where they are going to play. Trent Williams could line up at tackle, but Curtis Bailey could line up at guard. Cory Brandon will line up at tackle. That is what we have right now, but it is subject to change."
JH: At 6-foot-7, 340 pounds, Bailey just might be the biggest guard in college football?
JP: "He sure will. He is a big kid."
JH: Talk about the fact that you are always telling your guys to run, to chase the ball and to never give up on a block.
JP: "That is what you have to tell offensive linemen. You have to tell them to finish plays. When your running back gets hit or your receiver gets hit, get down there and get them up. Finish the play and get down there and get the defenders off and get back to the huddle. That is what offensive linemen need to do, they need to take care of the backs and receivers, finish plays and block people through the whistle."
Two Minute Drill: OL coach James Patton
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