During the early period of bowl practice, one of the units that will benefit the most is the offensive line. The starting group on the O-Line is young with only one senior starter in All-American selection Chris Messner, but the second unit is even younger and less experienced.
Many of the talented back-ups are stepping up early in workouts and getting some extended work. OU offensive line coach James Patton recently talked with OUinsider.com about the continued development of the offensive line for the Two Minute Drill.
JH: Is this a fun time for you because some of your even younger guys, or talented back-up guys, get some solid work at practice?
JP: "We have a bunch of young players up front. Other than Chris Messner, everybody is coming back a couple more years so really getting those younger guys reps who are redshirting is important. Guys like Curtis Bailey, a guy like Sherrone Moore, who has played a little this year, or Chase Beeler, who has actually played quite a bit this year, are all getting good reps. Of course, Trent Williams and Brandon Walker are both just first-year players so they need just as much work even though they have been starters. We have just been rotating guys in. It is good to have a little bit of depth."
JH: Chase Beeler starts a game early in the season and then gets spotted in the rest of the year. How has his attitude been this season, and how did he develop this season?
JP: "Chase did a great job. He started in the Middle Tennessee State game when (Jon) Cooper was hurt at center. Then he came into the Oregon game the critical last two series and played center. He has played guard this year to, so he has done a real good job playing both positions."
JH: Is his future still bright on this team?
JP: "Yeah, he has real bright future. I am very excited about him."
JH: Are the early bowl practices almost like going back to spring practice?
JP: "Yeah, a little bit. It is just getting guys reps and getting them to do a good job. Spring will be big, obviously, for them with the competition for spots. However, our preparation right now getting ready for a bowl game is just getting those guys a lot of work and quality reps."
JH: Chris Messner is such a humble guy and doesn't like people to talk about him, but when you make All-American and All-Conference teams people are going to talk about you aren't they?
JP: "Chris has done a great job and he has had a great season. He has been such a consistent player in terms of our play and how we grade things. He is a leader and it has been that way for a while. He has played a lot of football here and the way he has worked and the way he has played has shown everybody that he knows how to play this game."
JH: What did you think of the O-line's performance against Nebraska?
JP: "Honestly, I didn't think we played very well. I thought we played too emotional in terms of just some things that we missed up front. Of course, Nebraska played well because they are physical and they had a good plan. Again, we just missed on some things that we had not missed on all year. I think we got a little emotional instead of just doing our technique, and that is what we are going to work on these next two weeks."
JH: In other words, you have to play within yourself?
JP: "That is exactly right. You have to play within yourself and we have done that all year until Nebraska. Even though it is a big game, it is just another game that you have to focus on and play the right way. We still have to play fundamentally sound."
JH: What are your thoughts on going to the Fiesta Bowl?
JP: "It is a great experience and we are real excited. I have never been there and our players are going to be just as excited. We have a great opponent in Boise State that we are going to play. They are an undefeated team and watching them tape they are a very good football team. They are physical and they can run, so it is going to be a great challenge for us and our kids are excited. I know we can't wait to get out there."
Two Minute Drill: James Patton
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