Afterward TSD caught up with the former Auburn and Virginia Tech assistant to discuss his time so far in Baton Rouge, how the position battle at right guard is shaping up between Fehoko Fanaika and Evan Washington as well as what the future holds for rising sophomore Ethan Pocic.
All that and more is below in TSD's HD video, followed by a full transcript of the interview.
Ben Love: What were your impressions on your first spring here?
Jeff Grimes: Well, number one, the environment was great and the fans were into it. There were a lot of people here. As they say, it never rains in Tiger Stadium, so we made it through without the rain today. It was a good, fun day, a good environment.
BL: Your biggest position battle is at right guard. What's your take on how Fehoko Fanaika and Evan Washington played this whole spring?
JG: I think they both had really good springs. Sometimes things become clear and evident early, and sometimes they don't – I think because they're both good players that really want a job. I think we're still in a position where that could go either way. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Competition makes everyone better.
BL: Vadal Alexander told me earlier this spring that you're a coach who's a little more technique-based than the last guy they had. Your thoughts on that and drilling the guys on the finer points?
JG: Well I can't speak to anything that happened before I got here, but I think at our position so much of it has to do with the fundamentals. It starts with the right mindset. You've got to have an aggressive, tough, physical mentality to play that position. That's number one, and it's most important. However, there are so many fundamentals that you have to be able to execute that it has to be part of who you are as an offensive lineman.
The other thing that a lot of people don't realize is that the skills that an offensive lineman is expected to execute are things that are, in most cases, completely unnatural and things they haven't done for most of their lives. When they were a kid out in the back yard playing football at six, seven or eight years old, they weren't working on their zone blocking or picking up a twist in pass protection. They were out there just having fun with ball skills like quarterbacks and receivers and DBs do. So a lot of the things that you have to learn as an offensive lineman are unnatural and come later in life. It takes a lot of time and a lot of focus, but I will say this – the guys have gotten a lot better this spring and worked at it.
BL: What do you think the future is for a guy like Ethan Pocic, who's really been all over that line in two years here?
JG: You know, Ethan is a unique individual. You don't very often find a guy who can play any of the three positions – guard, center or tackle, but he really is one. Number one, he's got that right mindset. It's incredibly important to him, and he's very smart, too. That gives him that rare versatility that makes my job easier when you've got a guy you can roll around and do all these things with.