DevilsDigest: With the season opener taking place next week, how would you assess the offensive line?
Brent Myers: "They're actually playing really well. I like some of the things we're doing there. The guys are really starting to come together as a group, and we improved from a depth standpoint when Stephen Berg was injured. It (Berg's injury) may heave been a blessing in disguise because during fall camp we had to play Leo Talavou with the 1's, and he got a lot of experience. He ended up playing 72 plays in Friday's scrimmage. So he got a bunch of reps and played really well."
"Another thing that has been really really good for us is Brandon Rodd being healthy. He's a good left tackle and I'm very happy with the way he's playing. I think we'll be very solid."
DD: Grayling Love is the elder statesman returning to the line and he's already getting some pre-season accolades. Have you noticed his demeanor on or off the field changing going into this season?
BM: "No, he takes it the same way. He's very much a blue collar guy. He comes to work everyday, and works on his weaknesses, which they aren't too many. He's really committed to our communication, because everything we do surrounds the calls. He's a great communicator, and he's definitely the guy that runs the show – that's why he's one of the captains. I think he's playing the best position for him. Because of our depth we're having him just play center. That has been really good for him, because he can lock into all the responsibilities of playing center. He's done a nice job."
DD: Another lineman that looks to have a good season is Andrew Carnahan. Is that your opinion too?
BM: "Like any other kind we have, he's improved tremendously. The thing that Andrew has done the best is improved his flexibility. He's a tall guy at 6-8, but he has a lot better leverage position because he's so much more flexible. He did a great job working on that weakness and has improved a great deal."
DD: Going back to Leo Talavou. He did get named the nation's heaviest offensive lineman in college football, but as you mentioned has really improved. Can you talk about his development?
BM: "The media likes to talk about him because he's such a big kid (smile). He has done a nice job getting into shape. The only thing he has a drawback is that he's a little too heavy. He's working on it and has done a good job staying in shape. I challenged to get him in game shape and he has responded. He took 20 more reps than anyone else in Friday's scrimmage. He has lots of talent and we knew that when we recruited him. We knew he's a very athletic kid and it's starting to show up. He's a great run blocker, and has improved his pass protection. I'm very happy at where he is right now. I think he destined to be a great player."
DD: Judging the group as a whole, are you more pleased with their pass-blocking or run-blocking at this juncture of the pre-season?
BM: "I think that due to our running back situation a year ago, I think our guys did a good job of run blocking. We just didn't have an explosive guy that was gonna make anybody miss at the next level (of defenders). But when Rudy Burgess was in the game, our run blocking ended showing up because we had such a talented kid behind us. The line gets judged by how may yards the team rushes a game, and a lot of that has to do with the tailback, because in the offense that we run they'll always have an extra defender. If you don't have anyone that will block him, you have to have a guy that will make him miss. When you don't, that shows up."
"The thing that has been pretty evident in fall camp is that when Rudy Burgess or Keegan Herring are running the ball, we're a much better offensive line because the running back is better. Those guys make nice cuts and know where to insert themselves based on the reads they have. I think we have done a good job of coaching the running backs. They are much improved and that will make us look like we're a more improved run blocking team. There's gonna be more emphasis, because we have depth at running back, to be a little more balanced (with the passing game). So I'm happy with that."
"From a pass-protection standpoint, there has been real improvement with right guard Zach Krula and Leo has gotten much better. Not to take anything away from Drew Hodgdon, but Graying is very good at it at his center position. You need to take into account Carnahan's improved flexibility that has made him a better pass protector. So from an overall standpoint, we improved in both their pass-blocking and run-blocking. Obviously we have to keep on improving because we're gonna play against some pretty good teams. Our test will come – no question."
DD: This is your second year coaching the offensive line. Not that the group didn't buy into your system last year, but are you noticing that some of the bumps you may have experienced in the first year are smoothed out this time around?
BM: "I don't think so because this system has been here since 1998 when I was at Boise State. When I came here the only thing that has changed was the terminology. I think in the second year the kids are maybe more used to my coaching style, but on the other hand it's always better when you have experienced guys that recognize things much faster."
DD: What are the goals you're trying to achieve for the group between now and the Temple game?
BM: "Our goals, as they always have been, are to be more physical in both run-protection and pass-protection. That part has improved because I think we're more physical. I think our kids understand what I want and what I'm looking for. Another goal for us is to be 100% in mental recognition, so we don't make any mental mistakes. Front recognition, block scheme recognition…our 1's and 2's don't make too many mental mistakes. Personally, a goal that I have for them that I don't talk to them about is blocking movement, and blocking blitzes. I think they have improved on that, because our defense under Coach Miller has moved a great deal more and we have a lot more different looks from them."
"We can still improve all those points through out the season. Improving mentally also involves technique. We're not completely where I want us to be, but I think we're greatly improved from a year ago."
Q&A with Coach Brent Myers
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