From left to right, the first five went:
LT: Jerald Hawkins
LG: Ethan Pocic
C: William Clapp
RG: Josh Boutte
RT: Vadal Alexander
TSD caught up with offensive line coach Jeff Grimes in Tiger Stadium Saturday. Grimes explained if the above five is likely to hold through to Fall Camp, discussed experimenting with Alexander in different spots and talked about a former player of his at Auburn that's now paying big dividends for the Bayou Bengals.
---------------------------Ben Love: You shuffled some experienced guys in with some new starters this spring. How did you like that and how did they react?
Jeff Grimes: Spring is an opportunity to look at some things. I’m not sure that the way we necessarily did things today is the way we’ll do things moving forward. We moved some guys around in different spots that you didn’t necessarily see today, but I didn’t want to switch guys’ positions in the spring game. I just wanted to give them one spot and let them stay there.
What we ended up with for a good bit of the spring is due to putting Vadal in position to get a little more experience at tackle. He played tackle early in his career but hasn’t much recently, so knowing what he can do at guard, we wanted to give him a chance to show what he can do at tackle a little bit more. Of course we’ve got a couple of guys in Ethan Pocic and Will Clapp that play center or guard. Ethan can also play tackle.
There’s some versatility there, which is a good thing, because it allows you to move guys around and gives you a little bit easier opportunity to get your best five on the field. But sometimes those decisions about who plays in what spot depend on how some of those young guys grow and develop.”
BL: As far as Vadal goes, it sounds like you believe there’s a chance he plays some guard this fall?
JG: I think there’s always a chance of that based on not only how he performs but also based on other guys, and there’s always injury to factor in. You’re always trying to do whatever you have to do to get your best five guys on the field. Sometimes you play a little musical chairs to do that.
BL: When I interviewed Clapp this spring, he was very complimentary of (first-year offensive line graduate assistant) Ryan Pugh. If you could, run me through you connection with him and experience with Ryan.
JG: I coached him his last two years at Auburn. I came in 2009, which was his junior year, and coached him 2009 and 2010. He was a big part of our national championship team, played center there and was a four-year starter. He had a short stint in the NFL. Then he came and was my graduate assistant for my last year at Auburn, was my graduate assistant the year I spent at Virginia Tech and then this last year he was at Cincinnati. I lost him for a year. And then just this spring I had an opportunity to get him down here to help me again.
BL: You seeing the benefit of that already?
JG: Well, he and I just have so much of a history that there’s a seamless transition to allowing him to come right in and help with these guys. He’s a great, great young coach and already becoming a great addition to our staff.