GEORGE YARNO covered all bases Thursday in a lunch-time chat session with CF.C regulars. From returning starters Kenny Alfred and Bobby Byrd to rising stars Micah Hannam and Joe Eppele. From a starting five if the season began today to a trio of improving walk-ons, he covered the territory. Among the other topics were the Lesuma brothers, Grady Maxwell's work ethic, and a whole lot more.
<COUGFANcom> Welcome Coach Yarno. The coach's time is
limited so let's open it up for questions, fire away!
<IBC2991> Coach, can
you talk about the move from Tackle to Guard for Bobby Byrd?
Yarno, Could you expand on the move of OL Byrd from OT to OG?
<CoachYarno> Bobby is more suited to be an inside
player. He has had a little trouble in space and I think he will be more
productive at guard. It's what's best for him, he's more suited to be a
JC linemen have needed a year to contribute, what makes the Lesuma brothers
different, in what you've seen?
<CoachYarno> A couple things. They are more mature, one is 24, one is 23. They
have been on a mission and have had
more life experiences. They are both extremely intelligent. They will
learn quickly, but there is no substitute for experience, so there will be a learning
Bobby a contender for all american?
<CoachYarno> I think Bobby is an All-Conference candidate right now. A realistic goal
for him is to be First Team All-Pac-10.
<COUGFANcom> Coach, what's the top priority for your
linemen headed into fall camp?
<CoachYarno> Top priority is to have a great summer. They need to
work hard over the 8 week voluntary
summer program. They need to build cohesiveness and come together as a
group. One of our benefits is strength coach Rob Oviatt. He does a great job of getting them together.
The summer is a true test on how far our kids will
can you talk about how Steve Broussard's approach to the running game?
Compare it to Kelly Skipper's?
<CoachYarno> Broussard brings a
toughness and intensity level. Having been
a pro football player and 1st round draft choice, he has instant credibility. I
think he can take the running game where Coach Skipper has brought it to and move it forward.
<COUGFANcom> Coach how do you feel
about your depth? <CoachYarno> Depth is a
big question mark. In most programs it is an issue, particularly in the
offensive line this year. We have 4 players who have played a great deal. We
have good group of young players that need to come on this summer. We need to
have a group of 8-10 players that can win in the Pac-10 and that's what we are
trying to develop right now.
<CrimsonJT> Who is the best
lineman you ever coached at WSU? What made him so good?
<CoachYarno> I would say there are a
couple that stand out. Scott Sanderson, an All-American. He
was a tremendous athlete and a fierce competitor. Robbie Tobeck, only a
lineman for 1 1/2 years at WSU. He was a defensive lineman then became all
Pac-10 on offense in one
year. I've really enjoyed all players
I have coached at WSU. I really enjoyed Jim Eucker, (1990-92), he was the epitome of WSU football: tough, smart,
do anything to win. He worked
extrememly hard at everything he did. Hurt
his back at end of senior year and didn't finish. I've enjoyed all the players. I am forgetting
names of some. One of great things about coaching is the relationships you have
with the players you coach.
<bigskycoug> Coach, can you give us an update on the 07 OL recruits
that signed in Feb (Roxas, Ayers, Freitag, Lesuma)? Positions?
<CoachYarno> Steven Ayers has had the best spring of anyone.He won the state wrestling title and the state shot and discuss titles. He has had a
tremendous spring. He's intelligent, and obviously a great athlete. Kevin Freitag has had a great spring. He probably has changed the most
between his junior and senior years, body-wise. Physically, he may be prepared to play at true
freshman. Andrew Roxas is a good
athlete and has had a good
spring. I think he is going to have
to get stronger to compete at this
level. Hopefully he will work on those things this
Roxas going to grayshirt?
<CoachYarno> Roxas: Originally we were
looking into that, he was interested in that.
Now he has decided he wants to come with the freshmen, so he will report this summer.
thanks for joining us. Can you explain how grading works? We hear a
lot about especially for OL.
<CoachYarno> Any time you
have human judgment involved it is a flawed process. I grade players in different way, every coach is different. I'm more of an assignment and end result coach.
If they do their assignment correctly and get job
done, they get a plus. If mental
mistake or do their job
poorly, they get a minus. I also have categories for sacks, etc. I chose to focus on and remember the good, learn from the bad
and move forward.
People always say WSU is a passing school but isn't the pass vs run split pretty
even? What do you consider the perfect balance?
balance changes from year to year. 2 years ago we had leading rusher in nation and
ran the ball 60 percent.
When we have good receivers and
average running backs, we may run 40
percent and pass 60. Look for a 60-40
split depending what kind of team you
<IBC2991> Coach, can you
comment on the guys your OL faces every day? How are the DT's
looking? How are Mullennix and Broadus coming along from their injury
<CoachYarno> Think our inside DTs have progressed well. One of best DL,Fevaea'i Ahmu, has been injured this year.
Ropati Pitoitua had a great spring, worked extremely
hard. He developed some pass rush
skills. He's going to have great
year. Aaron Johnson slowed a bit by back problems but is better. Lance Broadus
hurt his shoulder in spring but getting better. Matt Mullennix hurt knee last fall. Kevin Kooyman had a great spring as
did Mike Graise Michael Graise. By others being injured, it allowed us to develop some depth at that
position. In the long run, that's going to pay
<COUGFANcom> Regarding Kenny Alfred's ceiling, compared to some of
the best centers you've coached in your time, how does Kenny measure up at
this point in their respective careers?
<CoachYarno> I've been fortunate to have good centers -- Robbie Tobeck, I coached All-American at LSU, had a great center at Arizona State. Kenny has chance to be as good or better
than anyone. He's only going to be a sophomore and has grown and matured as a player and person. The sky is the limit for him. Extremely
athletic, tough, intelligent young man.
I'mexcited about the growth we can make as an offensive line
because of Kenny
Jacob McKinney was switched to OL. How is the transition going. Do you expect
him to contribute this season? What about his size? <CoachYarno> Jacob started out well for us, took to the position change
well. He's about 295 now so has the size necessary. Obviously a good
athlete. Unfortunately, he got hurt
in winter conditioning and got mono for spring ball so he's a
little behind everyone right now. He
needs to have a great summer and then compete for playing time this
fall. We'll see how it all falls together when we play
Coach what's your overall early take on the California class of recruits in your
area as compared to last year -- stronger, same,
leaner? <COUGFANcom> Feel free to get your questions in now, coach
Yarno's time is limited, fire away!
<CoachYarno> I would say not as many marquee players, but a lot of
good Pac-10 quality players in my area. I'm excited about the process,
have a chance to recruit good
people on and off the field. I'm excited about this year's
<COUGFANcom> Coach any of the other younger guys really turn
your head this spring, show marked
improvement? <CoachYarno> I think Micah Hannam continues to improve, very intelligent and competitive young
man. His body has to catch up with
the rest of his game. I'm pleased with what he did in spring. Joe Eppele is showing signs he may be a good player some day. Very raw, he's had some injuries that slowed him
down. In a few practicesin spring,
he really improved quickly. He has a bright future as
<MichaelP> Approximately how
many OL will WSU try to bring in next recruiting year, and will you try to go
forHigh School or JC to fill a particular
<CoachYarno> You always
like to replace OL with HS players who can mature and grow. Depends on
how we play as group this year. We
are heavy with juniors so you always
plan for future. We'll probably sign
4 OL in this class because in 2 years,
we're going to lose 4-5
Coach....Coach Doba often makes quips about how he regrets scheduling teams like
Wisconsin. Is he as reticent with the team? Or does he set
different expectations with them?
<CoachYarno> Think it is a good thing to play top competition early
in the year because you grow from it.
Look at Auburn
and then the next game,
huge difference in how we performed.
We're excited about it. Love a challenge and prepare for Wisconsin and see how
it turns out.
you think we have an edge over other NW schools for OL recruiting because of
<CoachYarno> OL Recruiting. Thank you for comment. I don't believe
a player picks a school because
of a coach. Hopefully they pick it because of the school, players, environment,
offense, and how he's
What's Grady Maxwell's status? Does he still have a ways to go to
He's worked extremely hard. Gone from 335 to 300 pounds. He's gotten stronger. I think he is going to
be in the two-deeps by the
end of fall camp. Missed spring because of his knee, but he's now healthy. Athletic, has an opportunity to play for us this
<bigskycoug> Any OL walk-ons
that have a chance to break into the 2-deeps?
<CoachYarno> A kid that's been in program that had a tremendous spring is Nick Cantlon. He's
undersized, but very competitive, does everything right. He has a chance.
Scott Friberg was doing some good things but got hurt early in spring which set
him back. He also has a chance. Chris Prummer was a DL last year, now an OL. He's
playing center, and showing great
signs. Those three have a chance.
<CougarCraze> Coach Yarno, How excited are our guys to block
for Alex Brink the returning 2nd Team All Pac 10 QB?
<CoachYarno> Alex takes lot pressure off OL because he makes decisions
quickly, he doesn't hold ball. He
gets us in the right running play. We
will be a better offensive line because of
Alex this fall.
<COUGFANcom> Coach, talk about the process of formulating an
offensive game plan each week, how that works between the
offensive coaches. <CoachYarno> We all have areas
we focus on. We study defense as a group,
draw up defense on cards
for the scout team to run, go thorough each formation. I'm in charge
of the running game, and protections. Each coach has his own areas then we get together and form a game
<COUGFANcom> Coach, what's your favorite Bill Doba story, (that you
can share) <CoachYarno> I'd like to answer that with a comment, not a story.
Bill keeps everything in perspective. Tremendous man to work for. Always
positive, tries to give you time with family. Great to come to work everyday and
now that Bill Doba is leading the program.
Can't say enough nice things about him, one of the nicest men I've ever
<CoachYarno> Time for one more
question <COUGFANcom> Toss your questions out there, last
the rest of the team get motivation from Abdollmohammadi's extra work? As a
coach do you use that to push to team in the off season?
<CoachYarno> Romeen: He is a success story. Worked hard to get
where he is. At UCLA, when he made
that FG, that got everything started.
Players got excited. To see him have
success is a great thing.
<bigskycoug> Is the
OT position your biggest concern at this time? Is Rowlands a OG playing OT to
fill a hole or do you see him staying at OT for his career? Reasons for
optimism at OT?
<CoachYarno> OT: Without question OT is biggest concern going
in. Bobby's now inside so we'll have two new starting tackles. We'll have
to see. Lesuma brothers are tackle-type bodies but they haven't played yet. Micah has done some
good things. If Eppele has great
camp, that's a possibility. Dan Rowlands
is another possibility.
<MichaelP> Coach, if
all of your line is healthy, could you give us a starting five for
<CoachYarno> Starting 5: If had to start today, I would say Rowlands RT, Roof RG, Alfred C, Byrd LG, Vaughn Lesuma LT. (That's if had to
play today). All of this is subject to change based on summer and fall
COACH YARNO, IT'S GREAT TO HAVE YOU ON OUR SIDE. GO COUGS. <bigskycoug>
Coach, thanks for taking the time and answering our questions. Best of luck this
fall! Go Cougs.
<dgibbons> Thanks coach
<COUGFANcom> Coach thanks for
taking the time and lending your insights, much
Thank you for having me. Go Cougs!