A lot of people put the blame for Florida State's late season slide last year on the offensive line. Just days after Orange Bowl, the linemen got together and made it a point not to be the weak link of the team in 2006. So far in two-a-day practices, the guys up front appear to be holding up their end of the bargain. In this interview with Warchant.com, two of the more experienced OLs, John Frady and David Overmyer talk about how much their unit has grown since last season, the change in attitude, cross training at other positions, and more.
Q: As far as opening holes for the running game, how improved would you say the line is this year as compared to the past couple of years?
John Frady: It is night and day. With the changes we have made and the ability to get out of bad plays our backs, it seems like every day, have the ability to pop two or three long runs on our defense. That is something that used to never happen. I am very encouraged.
Q: Is that ability to open holes due to a lot of time spent in the weight room, a concentration on the running game during the spring. What is it that you think has accounted for that improvement?
John Frady: Yes.
Q: All of the above?
John Frady: Yeah.
Q: Do you feel that there is a more aggressive attitude, more of a mentality to go out there and knock guys down on the defense and assert yourselves on the offensive line?
John Frady: Yeah, a lot of it to is that it got to the point over the past couple of seasons that we were going out there expecting to not perform. You hear so much from all these different media outlets that the offensive line at Florida State is the weak link and that the offensive line is what is holding them back. We finally got sick of hearing that. This summer I think we had perfect attendance in the summer workouts from all offensive linemen. All of our offensive linemen just busted it and now I think it is showing out there on the field. We are going to do the best we can against Miami and I think we should do alright.
Q: Was there a specific moment where you knew that attitude change had taken place?
John Frady: The first inside drill we had in pads during two-a-days I remember we put (Lorenzo) Booker in the end zone twice and I think we put Antone (Smith) in there twice. The defense was over there and they didn't know what had happened. We had never scored on them in the inside drill and here it is we scored four touchdowns. That is kind of when it dawned on people that this was not the same old Florida State offensive line.
Q: Does it feel good to be able to go out there, contribute like that, and celebrate the fact that the offensive line is having such a positive influence on the practices?
John Frady: Yeah, my freshman year we probably only scored on the defense in goal line drill a handful of times. I think right now the one (first team) offense is riding a streak of like nine for our last ten or something. It is nice to not have the defense running over there after goal line. It is nice to have us taking it to them. It is just some friendly competition between the offense and the defense. Come game time we hope they are the best goal line defense in the world.
Q: Have you noticed a larger amount of appreciation from the tailbacks occurring with the improvements in the offensive ground attack as the offensive line has improved?
John Frady: Booker, Leon (Washington) and Antone, they are all great guys that would never come to us and tell us that you are causing us not to run but just looking at the film you can tell that they were so frustrated that we weren't opening anything up for them. I admire them for their positive character and their not becoming confrontational with the offensive line. I think that really helped to build a relationship between us and the backs. That is very important.
Q: Do you thinks the backs look at their offensive line in a different light now though because of their ability to make more plays with the play up-front being improved?
John Frady: I think it is a combination of everything. I think as long as we keep doing what we are doing and they keep doing what they were doing we are going to be a tough offense to stop.
Q: What kind of changes have you seen in the play of Mario Henderson?
John Frady: The big change that I noticed was last year when he went from the right side to the left side. It was like seeing, and I would hate to use a cliché, but it was like seeing the duck in water. He looked perfectly at home. He has done a great job and he is one of our three seniors and he is being a leader and stepping up. I think he is going to be good.
Q: In the zone blocking scheme, after your initial block near the line of scrimmage it is common on longer plays to see an offensive lineman down the field throwing an additional block, what goes through your mind as you are heading down the field?
John Frady: Me personally, I am running down there and thinking to myself that I don't want to run all this way and not block somebody. We don't like to really try to pound on our own guys to much but in a game when you run down there, you just want to let the defense know that we mean business and we are not soft. We are not going to let them push us around and if we see somebody take one person off the pile that is one person who cannot hit our running back. That is a point of pride for us.
Q: You've bounced around between guard and tackle so far in two-a-days. What is the plan for you at this point?
Q: Are both of you seeing time at tackle or just you?
Q: It has to be tough since you have to constantly change your mindset in how you block between guard and tackle?
David Overmyer: Yea, it's really challenging because you have to be sharp on your assignments. It's different inside on the run when you get inside (play guard) because it's a little more physical and you have a three-technique (defensive tackle), a bigger stronger guy, but when you go out at tackle it's a little bit more demanding in the pass blocking because you have a better athlete, a faster and more athletic person -- You really have to be focused on your sets (at tackle). In practice, you really have to remember when I'm at tackle I have to do this certain thing, and when I'm at guard I have to remember this.
Q: Since you've played tackle most of your life including starting all of last season I imagine that position is a little more natural for you than guard?
David Overmyer: At tackle, it's like second nature for my assignments. I've been in the system and played 13 games last year at tackle but at guard I'm a little new to it. I thought I picked it up pretty well in the spring just being thrown in there one day, I picked my assignments up. As far as being more physical and dominating at guard, I think I'm a better tackle than guard. I'm a team player so....
Q: With the running game finishing last in the ACC last year the OL had to take that pretty personally and it had to motivate you for this season?
David Overmyer: We did take it personally. We had a new focus starting all the way back in January. We knew we had to get stronger, and in the spring we had that whole new mentality -- we just need to be more physical and really concentrate on our footwork, bending our hips and our knees and really grinding and be a more physical offensive line.
Q: Have you seen during two-a-days when your unit scrimmages, does pass protection and inside drills?
David Overmyer: I definitely do. It seems like everybody has a little more 'umph' in their step. They are more gritty. Like in the beginning of two-a-days you saw Mario (Henderson) and Jacky (Claude) going down field and taking Paul Griffin out. Everybody, it just seems like they are going to the second effort to do what it takes to do it.
Transcribed by Gene Williams and Chris Nee
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