Offensive line coach Adrian Klemm talked after practice.
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On the offensive line through four practices:
I feel pretty good. The main thing is everyone is healthy. Our offensive line is always the last one to get things going. There is so much to put in. You can't just roll the ball out. But I think everyone has picked up things quickly. Trying to get everyone on the same page. We have a lot of moving parts. The main thing is everyone's healthy, everyone's feeling good. (Strength and Condition Coach) Sal (Alosi) did a great job with them in the offseason, not just getting guys bigger and stronger but more flexible. I'm excited for whats to come.
On if he’s taken precautions to keep the OL healthy:
We have a lot of numbers, so guys don’t have to take as many reps as before. We’re top heavy, in terms of our talent, in terms of quality depth, what I'd like to be. But that will develop as the year progresses. A lot of young guys. Main thing is not taking as many reps. You know, it's a different system, and there's a lot of positives, but you take a lot of reps. In a game, you have 90 plays, in practice, you have to multiply that by 2-3 times. Trying to save some legs. The guys have gotten bigger. You see the guys walking around. It's pretty remarkable, the changes their bodies have made in this off-season. I’ve always tried to take care of guys. It's been a big deal, talking about depth, but that's been the case here regardless, if it's numbers or because of injuries. In the bowl game, we’re bringing over a d-lineman and a walk-on. Going into camp, we have seven or eight guys. Throughout the season...after the second game, we had a different o-line every week. We kind of make it work. We work as a cohesive unit. Its why we have guys who can play multiple positions. I always try to take care of them, and keep their legs fresh. Being in the system we’re in, it enables guys to do that naturally.
On the running game:
It's good. You see it today, we just go up and down the field. When no pads are on, its harder for us, for offensive linemen. In terms of aiming points, you can't stay on them because you can't grab or hold. You know you're not supposed to hold, but you know. You have to get your hands on the breastplate. Passing game is the same thing. If you can do that with no pads on, when guys are going fast, and they can do it with the pads on, they can do a pretty good job. But we did well moving the ball. We try to do things combination-wise like we haven't done in the past. Guys have really picked up on it and they're embracing it. There's an opportunity like this today, a move-the-field, then all of a sudden the more and more they believe in it, the more excited you get, the better you’ll do, each and every day.
On replacing leadership you got from Jake Brendel:
Jake has been our leader, but then you have other guys who’ve been playing herea long time too. The great thing is Scotty (Scott Quessenberry) played two years before he had to redshirt due to injury, and he’s been a leader in our locker room, and a leader in our room, especially even when he was out. Connor (McDermott) has developed that and he came back because he wanted to be that guy. Kolton (Miller) didn’t speak at all before and now he’s coming along way. He's leading in his own way. Kenny (Lacy) hasn’t been a consistent starter, but he's been here for a while. All those guys lead in their own way. It's spread out instead of just one guy. There are more voices and it enables guys to ask, more people in the room, say how things should be done. A lot of them are leading by example. They've been around a while, so the guys coming in are falling in line.
On finding starters at the two guards:
Right now we have our starters, Kenny Lacy and Poasi Moala. It's an open competition, but those guys have done some things to separate themselves. Najee (Toran) is right there. The defense needed him, so that set him back. But he’s looking good. He’s gaining weight. He's at 278 right now. He's looking good. Some of the things we do in the run game he did in high school. They ran every single play; they didn't pass-block. So when we run power he's a natural at it. In the passing game, he can sometimes struggle when he’s outmanned in weight, size. But he plays with a tremendous amount of leverage. Little nuances he needs to pick up and master, but I think he'll be right in there, too. Josh Wariboko is coming a long, Andre James, I’m very pleased. I told him he had to play within himself, and not to get caught up in the 1on1 battle with Deon Hollins. Deon is going to get you sometimes, but then you need to move on to the next play. If you go against him 10 times you're probably going to lose a good amount of those right now because he's still learning and Deon's an accomplished rusher. Every day is a process, and he needs to build on that, take the positives, and just get better. Work on the things we’re trying to do instead of just going out and trying to win every 1on1 and go crazy. I'm very pleased with the maturity of the guys that have been here.
On what Poasi Moala has done to earn the starting spot:
Just believing in himself. He’s had the hand, a fractured hand off and on for two years. It’s a constant battle. Its why he missed most of the season, and that's why he missed the spring. As an offensive lineman, if you can’t use both your hands, you lose some confidence. Maybe he's not as strong at the point as he'd like to be. You start doubting yourself a little bit. Going into this, knowing we have confidence in him, saying "Hey, this is yours to lose." it goes a long way for him to show we believe in him. It’s not just rhetoric. He’s responded. I'm showing him, "Hey, as long as you do what you're supposed to do, that's your spot." He's doing a good job. I'm excited about it. He works against someone really good in Eddie Vanderdoes and he holds his own. Sometimes he loses against him, but he's not going to see anyone better than that throughout the year. So it's great experience and he takes something from it each day.