CHAT SUMMARY: George Yarno 'unplugged'

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?
<MichaelP> Coach 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 guard.

<97Coug> Usually 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 curve.

<CrimsonJT> Is 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 grow.

<IBC2991> Coach, can you talk about how Steve Broussard's approach to the running game?  Compare it to Kelly
<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? Potential?
<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 summer.
<COUGFANcom> Is 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.

<dgibbons> Coach, thanks for joining us.  Can you explain how grading works?  We hear a lot about especially for
<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.

<CrimsonJT> 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?
<CoachYarno> Perfect 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 are.

<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 last year?
<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 dividends.
<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'm excited about the growth we can make as an offensive line because of Kenny Alfred.<br><br>

<bigskycoug> 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 Wisconsin.

<COUGFANcom> 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 class.
<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 practices in spring, he really improved quickly. He has a bright future as well.

<MichaelP> Approximately how many OL will WSU try to bring in next recruiting year, and will you try to go for High School or JC to fill a particular need?
<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 players

<LA_Coug> 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.

<tomcoug> Do you think we have an edge over other NW schools for OL recruiting because of you?
<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 taught.

<bigskycoug> What's Grady Maxwell's status? Does he still have a ways to go to contribute?
<CoachYarno> Maxwell: 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 fall.

<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
<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 plan.
<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 known.
<CoachYarno> Time for one more question
<COUGFANcom> Toss your questions out there, last chance!

<ElkHairCaddis> Did 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 Wisconsin?
<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 performances.

<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 appreciated!
<CoachYarno> Thank you for having me. Go Cougs!

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