Jeff Grimes enters his second season as LSU’s offensive line coach. The Tigers line is expected to be a strength this year, with three returning starters.
Grimes spoke to The Advocate recently for a brief interview as LSU gears up for camp. Practice begins Thursday.
Q: What’s the progress of the offensive line over the summer?
Grimes: As you know, we can’t do a lot with them in the summer. I won’t be able to answer that conclusively until we get into camp, but from everything I hear and talking with the players … the No. 1 thing I’ve kind of noticed is I think our group has grown closer, think we’ve got a little bit better comraderie since I’ve been here. That cohesiveness is really important in our room.
I think the new guys are fitting in pretty well. The older guys are razzing them, but I think they’re doing it in a kind of way as they’re welcoming them into the group.
Q: Vadal Alexander will move from guard to tackle. What are the big differences in that switch?
Grimes: There’s a little bit of difference between guard and tackle in the run game because the skill set is a little bit different, but they’re more similar to each other than pass protection. In pass protection as a tackle, you’re playing in so much space and you’re playing against completely different types of players.
In more cases than it happens at guard, you’re on your own. You’re on your own more as a tackle. Just the angles and the space and the type of player you’re playing against, it’s just a different game out there on the edge in pass protection. It takes some time to really get proficient at that. Small things – to where you take your first step to where you put your outside hand. A lot of things are different.
Q: Vadal says he’s trimming for his move to tackle. How’s that going?
Grimes: He ended last season around the 317-320 range. We talked about the fact that he was much better, felt much better and could play harder longer at that weight. I think he’s stronger now and he’s in better shape than he’s been in the past, but I think right around that mark somewhere.
Q: Has Ethan Pocic settled in at left guard?
Grimes: That’s one possibility. I wouldn’t say that that’s necessarily set in stone right now. We know he can play a number of different spots. It’s really about getting your best five on the field and then, once you determine who your best five are, now not only what does each guy play best but how they fit together best.
You’d like to have a nice balance. You want to have guys who are comfortable playing next to each other and you want to put each guy in position where he can be most successful. What I’m leading toward is what position Ethan plays might not just depend on him. Might depend on what some other guys do.
Q: Do the linemen have to block different when Leonard Fournette carries the ball as opposed to other running backs?
Grimes: Darrell Williams is a similar kind of back. When you have that type of back, it gives you confirdence as a lineman that if we can get on track and create movement, those guys are going to run through trash. We’d like to have everybody blocked cleanly on every play, but the defense is on scholarship too and they’re trying not to be blocked. It doesn’t always happen as cleanly as you’d like and so what’s nice about having big, physical backs like that is they can make a lot of stuff right by running through those arm tackles.
I think that gives your line confidence.
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