New mindset, strength defines Seminole o-line

Ever since the Florida State football team had its season end in the 2006 FedEx Orange Bowl, it's been no secret as to what needed to be improved upon this offseason to avoid some of last year's failures.

And while the renewed focus on improving FSU's disappointing rushing attack was clearly evident during spring practice, much of the media focus was on tailbacks Lorenzo Booker and Antone Smith and not on arguably the position that was at the heart of the 2005 struggles – the offensive line.

Now, with summer workouts in full swing, the Seminole o-line is hitting the weight room hard – even more so than last offseason - in hopes of making more holes come fall and avoiding the injury bug.

"Last year we would do three sets of maybe six (reps), this year we have five sets of six on each exercise," junior starting guard Jacky Claude said. "So we are in there getting it and working real hard and sweating. I see a major difference. I think I squatted 400 for like four (reps last year) but now I am doing 425 (pounds) for six – no problem. It has made a major difference."

The increased intensity in the gym under the direction of strength and conditioning coach Jon Jost mirrors the intensity placed upon offensive line drills this past spring.

"We are more physical. Our mindset is that we would rather run the ball than throw the ball," Claude said. "Last year we would throw the ball to move and score but this year we will be better running the ball.

"The coaches did a good job of putting that on our mindset," he added. "We did a lot of goal line drills, board drills, inside drills. All spring, all 15 practices was run, run, run."

If running, running and doing some more running is in fact the way that the offensive gameplan does play out this season, the offensive line will have to be in the best shape possible.

In addition to working out with fellow offensive lineman Mario Henderson at the Leach Center on campus on the weekends and with his teammates during the week on the practice fields, Claude has another secret to personally make sure that happens.

"I stay away from Kool-Aid and stuff like that – I drink more water," he said. I eat more chicken breast and just eat right to tone up a little bit."

When two-a-days kick off in early August Booker and Smith will once again retain much of the focus of fans and media but that doesn't mean that Claude and the rest of his position mates won't be working hard.

Nobody argues the playmaking ability of FSU's talented running back depth chart but perhaps they were relied upon too much last season. In an offseason highlighted by changes, modifying that sentiment may be the biggest change of all.

"This year I think they are expecting us to help them out more," said Claude, referencing the tailbacks. "Instead of them trying to make more plays on their own, they are expecting us to make the holes and that is how it should be."

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