One of the biggest challenges for the Sooners this fall is coming up with an offensive line that will play winning football this season. New offensive line coach and run coordinator Kevin Wilson has a young and inexperienced group to mold together. With a little over a week before the season opener against Tulsa, I had a chance to sit down and talk about the progress made thus far with the Sooner o-line.
JH: How is your offensive line coming together?
KW: "It is going good and we are working hard. I am still trying to get them to get an attitude and a toughness where guys are going hard every day. I want them to play together and play tough in every play.
Brad Davis is settling in at the left guard spot and he can still help us at center. Abner Estrada is a freshman who we need to decide if he will play, because I don't want to play him a little, but he gives us some great depth at center. That has freed up Brad Davis to start at guard.
Kelvin Chaisson is also at left guard and he is still in the mix. Wes Sims and Jammal Brown are playing solid at tackles. Mike Skinner has had a great camp and Jarrod Barclay has had a great camp behind him.
So, we are doing pretty good, but we are maybe a little thin when Jerod Fields got a little weak at tackle and missed some time. Brett Rayl has struggled some, but that is just being young. However, our two starting tackles are playing good, but maybe our depth is a little better inside."
JH: Because of the way the game is played today with so much happening in the passing game, is offensive tackle the toughest position to play in college football?
KW: "The two biggest mismatches on a field is a tackle on a defensive end all day, or maybe the linebacker guarding a tailback in coverage in pass defense. You have a guy running 5.2 or 5.3 basically with pads on, if they say they run a 4.9 they play at 5.2 or 5.3, with a 4.6 or 4.7 guy on the edge and that is a mismatch. I am trying to teach the guys how to play big, play the big game and don't play the athletic game. If you try to be the athlete, he is going to win, but if you play big and make them come through you, then you have a chance to be good. Those two big offensive tackles are gaining on that."
JH: Do you have to be a much more intelligent player to play offensive tackle in today's game?
KW: "Yeah, but it is common sense intelligence to. With this camp we have had some great opportunities to study the game. We will have great meetings tomorrow morning, and some walk through's to just understand positioning and the defense to understand who is coming and who is not. To me it is more common sense. This is not rocket science, it is just football. There are eleven of them and eleven of us and we have a guy get on a guy and kick his butt and we are trying to keep it that simple. Our kids are understanding what we are doing and they are playing pretty hard."
JH: In other words, keep it simple stupid?
KW: "I say you have to have reasonable soundness. You can't be perfect, because the defenses are so junky and janky these days. Sometimes the defense has a better card dealt than you had, just like when you are playing blackjack, he drew a better card and good for him. However, you play the odds that this play has a chance to be sound. Once you understand that, you can try to play hard and get physical."
JH: Is the left tackle still the most important position on the field for a right handed quarterback?
KW: "Everybody says that, because most quarterbacks are typically right-handed and you don't want to get him blindsided. Again, both of those tackles have a tough job. The inside guys, a lot of times, has little help from the center, unless they blitz. So the inside positions are a lot easier than the tackle spots. However, Jammal and Wes have come along nicely. They are young, but doing pretty good right now."
JH: Will you have eight quality players that you can redshirt among the offensive line?
KW: "Yeah, I think so, but again we will see how those freshmen guys will come in. We need to see where Davin Joseph and Estrada fit in. Fields getting hurt threw him behind the eight ball a little bit. Chike Ozumba is our third tackle and we also have Barclay, so our depth is pretty good."
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