"On the Spot" with C Chase Beeler
The Bootleg's "Emeritus" caught up with redshirt junior center Chase Beeler, who transferred from the University of Oklahoma and sat out the 2007 season under NCAA rules before breaking into the lineup in 2008 at offensive left guard. A seamless shift over to his natural position of center should be one of the major keys to the offensive line's success in 2009.
On-Field, Post-Practice Interview on Friday, August 14, 2009
The Bootleg: We are here with redshirt junior center Chase Beeler on a breezier Friday morning. Chase,you were named second-team "All-Pac-10 Academic" as a redshirt junior last season – not that we don't appreciate and admire your team-leading GPA, but can we please see you add at least second-team "All-Pac-10 Non- Academic" in 2009?
Chase Beeler: Sure, who knows, maybe throw a regular first- or second-team "All-Pac-10" in there!
TB: Obviously you have a lot of team goals, but from a personal standpoint, I guess you'd like first off just to stay healthy, right?
CB: Yeah, absolutely. I had a little bit of a problem with my ankle last year, suffering a high ankle sprain [missing three games]. I hope to avoid that this year - I did a lot of preventative stuff in the offseason with Coach (Shannon) Turley, trying to strengthen that joint up and see to it that it doesn't happen again.
TB: What have you done differently to prepare physically for your move from guard to center?
CB: Well, I had a lot of reps at center during the early part of the year, but I really didn't change much. I needed to get bigger at guard and I needed to get bigger at center. I was able to put on about 5-10 pounds. Pre-practice today I was about 282, I think. I am hoping to be 284-285 by the time we weigh in on Friday.
TB: Is that the optimal playing weight for you?
CB: If I could be at 285-290 at the beginning of the season, that would be about perfect. Anything heavier than that and I think it would start to limit my mobility a bit. So, right in that area there.
TB: 15 years from now, when you are done with football, what would your natural weight be, are you more like a 250-guy?
CB: Realistically, I would probably be 235 or 240. I actually talked to coach Turley and my weight has been a constant subject since I arrived here at Stanford, and he told me one time that when I was done with the game I would probably shrink down to about 250 in about two months.
TB: Do they bring an extra plate for you at training table?
CB: Yeah, it's "Chase, why don't you go up and grab another couple of pork loins!" That sort of thing!
TB: We have been talking about weight or size, how do you rank or prioritize the elements that lead to a center's success on the field? Is it strength, quickness, technique, attitude, knowing the calls?
CB: "Strength" is important, but at the center position and even at the guard position, "technique" is probably the number-one factor. There is so much parity in terms of size and strength at the collegiate level, you are not going to overpower everybody. You might have 5, 10 or 20 pounds on a guy on a bench press or a squat, but down the longer stretch, that is not going to make a big difference. What's going to make a difference is leverage, technique, positioning, staying low, stamina.
TB: What about the speed issue? You get clocked in the 40, how often are you running that far? Aren't the "first four" the most important or are you going to get 20-30 yards downfield like "Fletch" (graduated center Alex Fletcher)?
CB: One of the good things we do at our program here, we do get timed in the first ten yards of the 40, we put an emphasis on the three-cone drill - so you get a little bit better idea of how you move in short spaces as opposed to long distance. We are all very similar for the first ten yards, the starting offensive line. We all do pretty well with that, within that range.
TB: How is the adjustment to center coming along? Is it tough to get used to starting with your head down, hands on the ball?
CB: I wouldn't say it's so much having your head down as the fact that you have a nose guard about a half-inch across from your face. Especially out here on the practice field, Ekom (fifth-year senior nose tackle Ekom Udofia) gets pretty tight on the ball and it's funny - sometimes we go and watch the sideline view, he is right on top of you. That is the biggest adjustment you have to make at the center position, readying yourself for that immediate blow.
TB: What about those exchanges, you obviously practice a lot of reps with your QBs. Have you been doing extra work with Tavita (Pritchard) and Andrew (Luck)?
CB: Yeah, we got a little extra work in the off season, especially during "Team Tech".
TB: C'mon, you can tell us...who has the "softer touch"?
CB: (Laughing) At this point, I really can't tell the difference! You can put anyone under there. Coach Harbaugh was under there earlier today and he is a little bit "firm". He actually gave me a little tap and told me "firmer, firmer, firmer!"
TB: Was that "before" or "after" he threw the pick to (Erik) Lorig? [Sorry, Coach!]
CB: That was actually before so my snap may have confused him, I don't know.
TB: Who is responsible for making the actual line calls?
CB: As Coach (Tim) Drevno says, calls go from the inside out, so by and large I will make the call, identify the front. There are a couple of calls that the tackle and guard make on a few power plays, the tackles and tight ends, but by and large, it's the center making the calls.
TB: Who keeps the guys aware of the snap count?
CB: Generally that falls to me. We all slip up sometimes, but for the most part we do a pretty good job of keeping each other on our toes!
TB: Your fellow center Bert McBride is out there too - he came in for you when you got dinged and started at Notre Dame – it's always nice to have high quality depth at such a critical position. Do the two of you trade tips?
CB: Yes, Bert and I actually sit right next to each other during offensive line meetings and we are constantly going back and forth about how we should handle a block back on a power play, or how we think we should handle this particular defensive tackle if we are taking this set. So it's great to have that kind of depth and that kind of knowledge, because it does provide us each a much better understanding of the game.
TB: Why are you an "offensive" lineman instead of a "defensive" lineman? At some point it had to have been decided. You haven't been a two-way guy, at least at the college level...
CB: No, I really made the jump, I guess, my sophomore year of high school. Offensive line always seemed to be, not to denigrate the defensive line, but it seemed to be more "cerebral". Defensive line, it's straight, right, left, spin. With offensive line, it requires a little bit more of an understanding.
TB: I was watching some titanic battles out there today. Can Ekom get by you without grabbing a jersey?
CB: Oh yeah, we go at it down there in one-on-ones and I really enjoy having him out here because he is a great defensive tackle. You know if you can handle somebody who is 325, that can squat 620 pounds three times, even in this league you are going to be able to hold your own.
TB: So you don't get surprised or intimidated by anyone, even against USC, when you've had to go against #54 on a daily basis in practice.
CB: No. Definitely not. You know what's coming.
TB: You move your #72 jersey from guard over to center - is there increased danger of having our QBs line-up behind the wrong guy? Has that ever happened?
CB: I think they have gotten used to it at this point. We'll see. It hasn't happened yet. It's still early.
TB: Let's talk about "pride"...Last year, as you and your boys led the way for the "Gerhart Express", Stanford produced the second-highest season rushing yardage total in school history? Is the 1949 team's record finally going to fall this year?
CB: Oh, that's one of the goals for the offensive line!
TB: You think we'll get to see Toby (junior running back Toby Gerhart) get to 200 yards rushing in a game this year?
CB: Oh yeah. No question!
TB: Most fans will recall your story, how you transferred here after a year at Oklahoma. Has Stanford University met your expectations, academically? We have heard you are carrying a very high GPA. Are you finding school to be a challenge?
CB: Yes, I guess the thing - Stanford vs. OU, at Oklahoma you really had to seek out and find the challenge, whereas at Stanford it is immediately available, it presents itself to you. I can decide, for example, that I want to write an honors thesis and go talk to someone, whereas at Oklahoma, there would be loads of paperwork I would have to file. So, yes, it has met and exceeded my expectations and in spite of my success, it is still proving to be extremely challenging.
TB: Has mom come around?
CB: She has. They're loving it. She came out here for the USC and the Cal game last year and I am hoping that she and my dad are going to make it out for six or seven games this year.
TB: Anything you miss about Oklahoma other than friends, family, and 90,000 people?
CB: No, I think that pretty much sums it up. You can't really ask for anything more than you've got out here.
TB: "More to do": Norman or San Francisco?
CB: (Laughs) C'mon, is that really a question?
TB: Professional football ambitions?
CB: Absolutely. Yeah, I would love to be able to play center at the next level.
TB: Did people back home question your decision to come out west?
CB: No, actually that was one of the most surprising things, the amount of support that I found. There were a lot of people, even hard-core Oklahoma fans, who said "we're upset to see him go, but we understand that it is a decision he needs to make on his own and if he is happy, then we are happy for him."
TB: So, Coach Harbaugh has talked about getting to a BCS bowl game one of these years, how would you feel about meeting up with Oklahoma in a post-season game, maybe for the national championship?
CB: That would be something special. That would be incredible!
TB: But you have another year after this, maybe we'll save that for next year, right?
CB: Works for me!
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