A Conversation With Joe Bob Clements

Mike Gundy he was heading down to the defensive ends on Sunday when his Cowboys put on shoulder pads to see some extensive pad popping for the first time in fall camp. After that practice and a couple of others, Gundy said he was pleased with the defensive ends and he felt better about Tyler Johnson, Sam Wren, Jimmy Bean, Trace Clark, Emmanuel Ogbah and company than he had a week earlier.

Gundy is not a lip service guy and when he has his microscope on a position group or side of the ball he is going to tell the media and anyone else listening his true feelings. You get the feeling from talking to the players, not the defensive ends but their teammates on that side of the ball, that they agree with Gundy and don't look at the defensive ends as a finished product but a work in progress that is trending in the right direction.

Defensive line coach Joe Bob Clements is another guy that doesn't hide his true feelings often. On Thursday, coming off the practice field, he spoke with Associate Athletic Director for Media Relations Gavin Lang.

What did you think of practice today?
Clements: "We're at that point in training camp where they're starting to get a little bit tired. We have been having quite a few physical practices in a row so you have to push them a little bit more, but they're responding. We just have to continue to work and just understand that this part of the season is important because it's going to carry us through and build the foundation for the grind that the Big 12 schedule is."

What are the core traits you want to see in your defensive linemen?
Clements: "First and foremost, I want them to be seen as a tough defensive line. I think it starts with toughness. Second, they need to be relentless. Third, they need to be fundamentally sound. We talk about that all the time. When everything goes, the last two things you have to hang on to are your fundamentals and your effort. If you don't have any legs and don't have any wind, as long as you play with the right fundamentals and give your very best effort, then you'll be okay. It takes a great deal of toughness to accomplish that."

What is the overall progress of the defensive line?
Clements: "We're getting there. It's a process, but we still have 20 days until the first game and we need all 20 of them. Every practice is important, and every practice is valuable. It's just a matter of going in and watching the film to see what we did poorly and then working the next day to get it corrected. It's a constant everyday process that is going to continue for a while now."

,i>Where do you feel the defensive ends are right now?
Clements: "I think they came in ready to go. I've been really pleased with some of the work they must have done during the summer. Coach Glass and his staff must have done a heck of a job because I feel like I have five guys who have stepped up and kind of put themselves above everybody else. Is it perfect? No. Is it getting better? Yes. They are eager and working hard so that's really all I can ask for right now."

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