Chandler Burden made the successful switch from defensive line to offensive line last season and felt well suited to stand up in the Kentucky locker room and thank the defense for its effort early in the season when the offense was struggling.
Burden, a 6-foot-4, 313-pound senior from Blue Ash, Ohio, talks about what he said, why he said it, the much maligned offensive line getting healthy again and his dream of becoming a race car driver:
Question: What motivated you to speak up when the team was struggling?
Answer: As one of the seniors on the offensive line and the offense, I kind of felt responsible to make sure the defense knew they were doing a good job. Over the first five or six games, the offense wasn't performing up to expectations. So I was just letting those guys know they were carrying us and doing a real good job.
Q: Do you feel like what you said helped?
A: It might have helped. We definitely got our game back together these last two or three games.
Q: How important is it for the line to be healthy and in one piece? It's starting to look like a different group.
A: A lot of people don't understand, but me, Matt Smith, Stuart Hines, Billy Joe (Murphy) were all hurt over the summer and Larry (Warford) was too for a while. You've got to understand you can't just come back and expect to play full speed, how we've always been playing. It just took us a while to get back in the swing of things. The offensive line is a group effort. Everyone has to be on point, on the same page every single time. ... We didn't have the summer to work the kinks out, so we've had to work them out throughout the season.
Q: In your media guide bio, you said if you weren't playing football then you'd be racing NASCAR. Aren't you a little tall (6-foot-4) and big (313 pounds) for that?
A: Maybe if I was good enough, they'd make a custom car for me.
Q: Do you have a favorite driver?
A: I like Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson.
Q: Is it really a life goal for you or is it just some sort of farfetched dream?
A: Honestly, if football doesn't work out for me in the NFL, then I might try it. I'll give it a shot.
Q: Have you actually raced a car before?
A: No way, but I'll try anything once.