I sat down recently with the big man from Buford, Ga., to get the latest on how spring camp is going, the position battle shaping up at right guard and the differences in playing under new offensive line coach Jeff Grimes.
All that and more is below in TSD's Q&A with Vadal Alexander.
Ben Love: How's spring been going so far?
Vadal Alexander: Good, man. It's going well. We're getting better every day. I love it.
BL: There's a new guy at right guard in Evan Washington. You've been with him here for a while now. Do you think he's starting to kinda get that position a little bit?
VA: I think it's still wide-open, but it's really close. I really do think it's close. Both guys – Evan and Hoko [Fehoko Fanaika] – I love ‘em. I think it's not done until it's done. You can ask Coach [Jeff] Grimes, he'll know better, but I love both guys. They're both smart, talented guys. Whoever wins, wins.
BL: It seems like there are a number of other guys who could move over to that position. Do you think those two are head and shoulders above any other options for right guard?
VA: I'm pretty sure those are the two candidates for that position. Like you said, there are a lot of offensive linemen that can switch, but I think those are the two from what I've seen.
BL: Now on the left side, this will be your second year over there. The familiarity you have with La'el Collins, just how comfortable are the two of you playing next to one another?
VA: Oh we're pretty comfortable, man. We kinda know what each other is thinking before we do it. It's a pretty cool thing. We've just got to get better, and hopefully we can be way better and more consistent than we were last year.
BL: Is there any difference in the speed or intensity of practice under Grimes than there was with Stud [former offensive line coach Greg Studrawa]?
VA: I wouldn't say that. I would just say that he's more technical with his assignment. He likes to touch all his bases and can be particular. ‘Vadal, you didn't take that step exactly right.' Or ‘Vadal, you didn't make the block, but let me tell you why.' Stuff like that, he's just different on that note. Stud did similar things, but Grimes likes to emphasize a lot of different things.
BL: So are there more teaching moments in practice, maybe just more time out to verbally explain and instruct?
VA: I just think his approach is technical. It's nothing better or worse or anything like that. It's just a different approach, which I love just as much.
BL: This year you guys have some quarterbacks who can run and do some different stuff on the ground. Does that change the blocking scheme?
VA: Not really, it's the same normal schemes that we've had. We just have a guy that can make an extra play every now and then. But as far as the blocking schemes from our vantage point, it's the same things.
BL: You went to that Williford number this year, I see. What gives on changing jersey numbers again (from 70 to 78 and now 74)?
VA: That's my high school number. It's the one I always wore. I asked [Josh] Williford when I was a freshman if I could wear it (once he left), and he said yeah. So I just went ahead and took it when he left.