McHale Brings Changes to OL

Florida State offensive line coach Mark McHale is ready to begin making changes, and his players are excited to learn. The first practice was full of questions for the new coach, all of which he was more than happy to answer.

There was no shortage of questions for Florida State offensive line coach Mark McHale on the opening day of spring practice yesterday.

Whether it was eagerness to learn McHale's system, or just an attempt by the players to look good in front of their new coach, no one was sure. But what was certain was that McHale gladly welcomed the inquiries.

"The success of any coach is the ability to communicate," coach Bobby Bowden said. "It looks like he has a natural ability to communicate with kids, and explain. That will be the key to it - can he get his knowledge to them."

Saturday was McHale's first chance to work with the players on the field and begin the implementation of a series of minor changes that will go into effect over the course of spring practice, which culminates in the annual Garnet and Gold game, April 16.

One of the changes is the elimination of flip-flopping positions at the line of scrimmage. Instead of the split and tight positions, which were used by the Seminoles in past seasons, players will be designated to a certain side of the line, either right or left.

"It could make us a little less predictable," Matt Meinrod said. "There's a lot more you can do out of a right and left, versus a split and tight formation."

The switch in offensive line philosophy will open up the variety of formations available to Florida State, and stop opposing defenses ability to key off the location of certain personnel, according to Meinrod.

While none of McHale's modifications, which also include changes to blocking schemes, are too drastic, the next few weeks will be a time of learning and adjustment.

"It's a new way of saying what we already had," Meinrod said. "That's where all this repetition comes in. To get everybody used to all the new words, and sounds."

It will also be a time for McHale to asses individual talent. Although both Cory Niblock and Meinrod will be either limited or unavailable due to injuries until fall practice begins, McHale's goal is to have an idea of each player's ability this spring.

That could mean switching around certain linemen into different positions. McHale plans to get John Frady, who has worked as a center in past seasons, some practice at guard.

"Number one is personnel, making sure we have the right guys in the right spot," McHale said. "You have to work out that those five best football players are playing in the game. That's what I have to find out."

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