How nice is it to have a guy like Andrew Kirkland who has played left and right tackle? “I think it’s valuable. We have a lot of guys in the group that I think have some versatility. There’s only a handful of guys that I see kind of stuck at one spot. Whether you’re five, six, seven, or eight in the list right there, you have to find a way to get on the field. So for a guy like Kirk (Andrew Kirkland), he really played right tackle for us last year until 15 minutes before the WSU game when Trey (Adams) got a stinger and we kicked him over to the left side. Then he played the bowl game on the left side and now he’s back on the right side. He can play both sides and I think his versatility gives him a better chance to get on the field.”
How hard are coaching changes for players? “Probably a better question for those guys to answer. I always assume at this point, three years in, they’re kind of – they understand my verbage and all that stuff. So I think for those guys that were fifth year seniors the year that I first came in here, I think for those guys it was a big challenge. I don’t think these kids right now, I don’t think they feel it’s a challenge.”
Is the switch from left side to right side hard? “I think there’s a little of that. Some kids are really natural at adjusting. Just have good feel, good savvy for the game. Other kids it’s harder for. I think for the most part, we spend all summer with those guys working both sides just preparing for something like having to move a side.”
On Matt James “Matt (James) has his weight up, a lot closer to what it needs to be. He’s fluctuated just a little bit in camp, but all the guys have. He’s a very versatile guy as well. He played some tackle for us. He started out fall camp for us at center. He’s played some guard for us. He’s one of those guys, again, he’s trying to fight and scratch to get on the field.”?
On his comfort level now versus last year “Knowing my guys better. Last year, really wasn’t certain what was going to happen at that left tackle spot. Dexter Charles went out earl. Kind of put some pressure on us in terms of kind of having to move Jake (Eldrenkamp), who had played tackle most of his career here, to guard, and had to get a young freshman ready to go. I just think those guys, having more experience, are further ahead of the game.”?
On Trey Adams “He’s certainly way ahead of where he was a year ago. Doing really well in fall camp. Still makes a mistake here and there, but I think hes having a good fall camp. I think both those guys at the tackle spots right now are really prototypical guys you’re looking for.”?
How much of development is mental? “I think a lot of it is. At a lot of positions that’s true, but at o-line it’s really, really critical that these guys understand defenses, understand that details of what we’re asking them to do. Unfortunately there is no such thing, at this level, of just cutting it loose and going to play. You have to know what you’re doing and you have to understand of what the defense is doing.”
On Coleman Shelton “Coleman (Shelton) is one of those guys that is just a really, really good leader, experienced, physically he has himself I think in a better position in terms of his weight being pretty stable. I think he’s really comfortable playing any spot for us.”
What do you think you need to lock down before the beginning of the season? “I think just the urgency of preparing ourselves for football games. We’ve been really focused on our defense and schematically some of the stuff that they do, and we’re going to have to flip the page here in a couple days and focus on what’s coming. Still everything, whatever’s been 14 days in we’re still thinking about a lot of different things.”
On the importance of the scrimmage last Friday to see live reps “I think in a lot of respects it is. For those guys to have to try and play really hard but stay on their feet is a challenge. I think sometimes if you’re going to finish a block you can end up on the ground and we tell them during most practices you can’t do that, so they kind of turn it up a notch during scrimmage time and have a chance to finish blocks and really go compete. I think it’s a different mindset without coaches on the field to see how those guys respond to good, bad, and indifferent. And they’re used to coming back to a huddle after a lay during a typical practice and looking to see what the coach is going to tell them. And I think you get to a scrimmage situation, they have to figure it out on their own.”
On Kaleb McGary “His details have come a long, long way. I think he’s had a good offseason. I think he’s really studied some of the details of the game. Both he and Trey (Adams), they’ll make a mistake here and there, but for the most part they’re really dialed in assignment wise and particularly if you compare it to where they were last year.”
On the transition from defense to offense for Kaleb McGary “I think it was a struggle. It took him some time for sure. He didn’t really play o-line in high school either, so for him last year was really the first time he did that. You can study it as much as you want but there’s no substitute for doing it. It wasn’t until the season last year that he really had a chance to go out and do some of that stuff. Again, looking at him now as opposed to where he was a year ago, he’s a long ways ahead.”
Chris Strausser provides player updates
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