In-depth with Coach West

CUTigers.com's Brett Jensen spoke with outside linebackers coach Ron West in the second of a weekly series of exclusive one-on-one interviews where you the fan get to ask questions for the entire football coaching staff.

Did you have to do special anything to prepare for the move from offense to defense?
West: "I was a defensive coordinator for seven years in Division I-A college football and had coached on defense for eight years and had coached the linebackers for eight years. Basically, the only thing was just going and studying a few guys and seeing how they structured the practice and the breaking down the teaching.

"As far as the technique of line play, basically it's the same principles – leverage and power. You've got to have leverage and power, which are created by certain angles. Then the biggest thing is just teaching the pass rush techniques and I knew what the offensive linemen were doing, so it kind of helped me.

"Knowing how to teach offensive linemen how to protect, I could tell them kind what they could get and what they could set up on based on protections. Schemes and protections was very easy because all I did was breakdown the protections schemes. I knew where we could blitz and the guy could come free. So, it really wasn't that big of a deal at all."

Do you see Courtney Vincent staying at the new bandit position or will he eventually move to the more traditional linebacker role?
West: "Right now he's at the bandit linebacker position, where he still rushes and drops (into coverage) at that position. But he could eventually be an inside backer, but right now he's got to be an outside backer for us because we just don't have enough guys."

What young linebacker, including freshmen, has a chance to make an impact on defense this year?
West: "I think there's two young linebackers that probably have a great opportunity and that's Antonio Clay and Josh Miller. Both are strong, in pretty good shape as far as they have a lot of muscle mass, and they can both run and make a lot of plays."

How have you and the players that you specifically coach adapted to the new scheme on defense?
West: "It's been real good and no problem at all. Basically the scheme is very similar to what we did last year, except we're just adding a little bit of a 3-4 scheme."

What are you plans as a coach? Do you want to stay in college or eventually go to the pros?
West: "I'd love to stay in college because I love college football. My thing would be to pursue an opportunity to be a head coach in college football. If I could do an opportunity to do that, then I would stay in college. If I could never get an opportunity, then I would eventually probably look into an NFL situation. I'd rather be a college coach. I enjoy college. I like that age group."

Coach Vic Koenning said last week that he thought the outside linebackers have the potential to be the best tandem in the country. What will it take for that to happen?
West: "I think the biggest thing is we've got to continue to work hard this summer. We're very fortunate. Tremaine Billie is an excellent "Sam" and one of questions for us is going to be depth at that backer. And then the next thing, I really feel good about Courtney Vincent. When you've got Gaines Adams that's playing pretty well, if he continues to work, I think he can be an outstanding player. I think he could be a guy, who on Sundays, everybody will know his name. He's just that kind of athlete.

CUTigers.com's player of the game is Clemson catcher Doug Hogan.
"But Courtney Vincent has been a pleasant surprise. He's fitting right into the scheme. He's making impact after impact. He's a playmaker. He just plays extremely hard, so I think he'll be a guy that will really figure in. But I don't think there's any doubt that for us to be a good defense, those guys have got to play well and they've got to be consistent. And I agree totally with what he's saying. They're good athletes and they should make big plays."

You've been a very successful recruiter for Clemson. What is your philosophy when you decide a particular kid would be a good fit at Clemson?
West: "The first thing is you've got to sell yourself and you've got to be fair and you've got to be honest with kids. They're young kids that are becoming young men. The biggest thing that I think we have an advantage of in a lot of reasons why we're able to go recruit well on average years is because of our program. Clemson sells itself. Clemson is a tremendous program if you look at the history of the number of ACC championships; a national championship; Tommy Bowden as far as his longevity in the program and his continued success with the program; bowl opportunities; we've had the chance to be in six bowl games at Clemson; he's been named ACC Coach of the Year twice. The program definitely sells itself.

"Then the biggest we've got to do is we've got to get the guys that fit the program and that can come in and be impact players and try to convince them why they can come help us. That's what we do more than anything is just to show them what they can do and be fair and be honest with them. I just try to get to know them on a personal basis. I try to recruit not just them, but I recruit everybody in the school. I'm a big believer that the janitor at a school may be the difference in getting a guy to come to Clemson. I've actually had a janitor one time who was close to this kid help convince him to come to Clemson. So I just treat people the way they need to be treated.

"You just talk to everybody. You never know. I've seen security guards at high schools be the difference in a kid coming just because that kid trusted that guy more than he trusted somebody else. That's what I believe and try to do with everybody."

Also See:
In-depth with Coach Vic

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