TSD caught up with Coach O after Saturday’s Spring Game to get his assessment of how it went. He also provides his take on each player along the defensive line:
“It was great. The guys were very receptive, very coachable. Every day, they came hard with a great work ethic. [The Spring Game] was an up-and-down performance. We didn’t play like we wanted to play. I thought we had an excellent spring, but we still have some work to do. We have a big summer ahead of us. But we have some guys that can perform very well.”
Q: Maquedius Bain has moved from tackle to end and got the start in the Spring Game. What has he shown that made you confident he could make that transition?
“He’s a big guy that can move, do some things as a big, athletic guy. He knows that to be able to play end, he’ll have to lose a little weight and get in a little better condition. But I think he can do it.”
Q: You have the luxury of returning your two starting defensive tackles from last year. How valuable has their leadership been?
“I love them, Davon Godchaux and Christian Lacouture. Those guys are doing well. But we have to develop some depth. They won’t be able to play every down. But those guys are good players.”
Q: You mentioned the depth, how are guys like Frank Herron and Greg Gilmore progressing to factor in behind your two starters?
“Frank Herron had an excellent spring and is getting better at the little things. Gilmore’s a leader. He’s strong and can be a valuable nose tackle. He’s done a good job. And so has Trey Lealaimatafao. I’ve got some guys inside that can play. We’re strong inside right now.”
Q: Most expect Tashawn Bower to be the No. 1 defensive end this season. How has he responded to those expectations?
“He came along. He stayed hurt most of the spring. He played hurt, which I appreciated. He’s got to get healthy, but I think he can be a good player for us.”
Q: Lewis Neal received a lot of praise through the spring and spent a lot of time with the first-team. An injury sidelined him for the Spring Game, but how much did you see from him?
“He played well. He was coming along, and then the injury slowed him down a little bit. We’re still not solidified at defensive end to where we want to be. Throughout the summer, we’re going to figure it out and find some guys that can play.”
Q: I’d imagine Sione Teuhema and Deondre Clark will also factor in that competition. Where do they stand after the spring?
“They progressed. I really believe in Sione’s progression. He did a good job, and Clark made some progression. We’ve still got a ways to go there.”
Q: Does that mean 2015 signees Arden Key and Isaiah Washington can step in immediately and fight for a spot in the rotation?
“Getting Arden and Ike in, that’ll bring some speed off the edge. They’re long guys that can rush. Those guys will have to contribute for us.”