UTSAInsider: O-Line Coach Mike Markuson

With several key contributors banged up, the offensive line will open the season missing some key pieces. First year Offensive Line Coach Mike Markuson talks with InsideRunnerSports about fall practices and the upcoming season.

Interview with UTSA Offensive Line Coach Mike Markuson

How are you set going into Arizona next week?
“We’ve got some guys knicked up but we’ve been working about 10 guys. We’ve got some guys that have stepped up and done a good job. I’m really proud of Reed Darragh, and Kyle McKinney. Jordan Gray has been doing a good job as well as Austin Pratt. Clayton (Woods) and (William) Cavanaugh have done some really good things. Even Michael Roberson, who has played some before, has done some good stuff. David Anzaldua has picked it up. We’re still bringing Gabe Casillas along. Cody Cole, a guy that’s been here, has been getting a lot of reps. Collectively, they’re hanging in there, fighting through all of this. We’ve had a long camp, now we’re getting ready for Arizona. I’m happy with the progress but we have to keep getting better.”

Are your starters Darragh, McKinney, Cavanaugh, Pratt, and Gray?
“Yes, that’s it right now. We’re rotating Clayton (Woods) in at center some. We’re rotating Cody Cole in at tackle. I’m starting to mix and match a little bit like you would in a game. It’s always about who is your next best guy whenever somebody goes down. The center is the most important guy, he’s going to snap the ball. There haven’t been too many times when I’ve had a second team. Everybody dreams of that. In reality, it’s who’s the next guy and that’s where we are at right now.”

Is Cavanaugh’s versatility an advantage?
“He is versatile. He has to be more consistent sometimes, he sprays it a little. It’s been a new thing for him. He hasn’t played a lot at the position (center). He works hard, is smart, and makes the calls. The most important thing is the ball, we’ve got to protect the ball. We’re still working. Austin Pratt has got some snaps at center as well. We’re rotating three, which you have to do. You never know. You just never know.”

Is Clayton Woods going to travel or are you going to redshirt him?
“He had a good spring. He’s gotten some one reps. Clayton is tough guy, he comes from a great high school program. He’s been coached, his dad’s a coach. We coach him hard. He really pays attention is a good worker. He’s in the mix. We can’t afford to sit him, unfortunately. Where we’re at right now with our depth, we’ve got to have him. He really saved us in the spring. He was a great signing coming in the mid-year.”

Does it matter who plays what position as long as the best players are the field?
“It does. We’re a team within a team, we’re five. There’s a cohesiveness that happens there. But you like to say whether we rotate a guy in, we still like to have that continuity and get the job done.”

What have you seen from Juco Gabe Casillas?
“Any junior college kid that gets in during the summer, he wasn’t here for half a year. You have to train them. I haven’t seen one yet that has just come in and started. Now he’s working hard, he’s a good kid, he’s trying. He’s getting beat in some deals and he gets frustrated but that’s the way it is. We’re training him and he’s learning. He’s going against some good d-linemen, I mean, we have some fantastic defensive linemen. We just grind on him everyday, all them. I’m hard on all them, I get after all them. The o-line is a thank-less position. You have to be a lion in there if you’re going to be a good one.”

What are you seeing from David Anzaldua?
“David has really gotten better but David has to become a better bender. When I watch tape on offensive lineman, I want to see: a.) are they tough and physical and b.) can they bend? Guys that are stiff in their hips and can’t bend their knees, it’s a struggle playing the position. David’s getting there but he was a little bit stiff. He knows that. He’s gotten better at keeping his pads down but still has a tendency to play high. And it’s all about bending, it doesn’t matter how big you are. He’s not quite there yet but I’ve seen improvement. David is like all of them. I’ve got a great group. The whole bunch of them are great kids, they’re good listeners, they try hard, so I just keep working them.”

What’s kind of affect does the up-tempo offense have on the line?
“Playing at a high level, you can get pretty wore out in a hurry going fast. I think our guys have seen the advantages when you get up on the ball. There’s potential to make big plays, keep the chains going, and not allow a bunch of substitutions on the other side of the ball. That’s difficult for the defense. It’s been a transition but it’s been fun, we’re starting to see it. It’s a mindset. Playing fast can hinder the other side. So that’s the advantage, especially if you’re making first downs and moving the chains.”

What’s the status of Juan Perez-Isidoro?
“He’s on his third week (out). I’m praying for Kansas State, that remains to be seen. The main thing is getting the kid back healthy so nothing else happens to him. He’s doing good. We miss him. He’s a great talent. He’ll be in there (in the long term). We’ll have a lot of different combinations, even Juan can play tackle. He was doing it in the spring with one hand. He’s just a natural athlete. Some of that is just God-given. Some guys have to work at it but he’s just got it.”

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