Dan Scott Interview: Ron West

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William Henry added 21 pounds and had his best spring practice since he has been at Clemson.
William Henry added 21 pounds and had his best spring practice since he has been at Clemson.

CLEMSON -- Clemson offensive line coach Ron West was a recent guest on SportsTalk with Dan Scott to discuss the progress of the offensive line this spring. SportsTalk can be heard from 9 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9 in upstate South Carolina.

Listen to the full Ron West interview Here: Real Audio - Windows Media

Selected quotes

Give us general overview of what you saw during the spring.

Well, we did some good things around the ball. First of all, we are very fortunate to have some real good backs. Coach Burns has done a great job with those guys. We really feel like we came out of Spring with six really good backs. Kelly, Merriweather, Coleman, and Browning at tailback and Jasmin, and Harrell did a great job at fullback. I really think the number one thing is that we have good backs so we got to try to utilize their abilities and get them involved in the game plan. After looking at the spring overall and the spring game, we did some things really well in the running game. The biggest emphasis we had was to improve in that area. Two years ago, we tried to analyze and tried to improve in the throwing game, and we improved in the throwing game. But this year we were down in the running game so we really wanted to put our emphasis in the running game.

Do you think of Whitehurst's assessment that the team is a little tougher now?

Oh there is no doubt. Like Coach Bowden has said, there is two things that we have to learn to do. We have to learn to stop the run and be able to run the ball better. And those were our two goals. We have to improve in certain areas in the running game as well. I think it creates a tougher attitude and a mindset.

Comment about the depth chart.

Well, Roman Fry broke his right hand. He will be fine. He actually played the spring game with the broken hand. Tim Debeer dislocated his ankle. By the first session of summer school, he should be able to run straight ahead. He should be fine by the second session. He should be alright. Of course Jermyn Chester we lost. He had to make a decision on what he wanted to do. It was his third ACL surgery so he chose to not to play his senior year. It was his fifth surgery overall on his knees. So right now we are pretty much going with Johnson with first team left guard spot. Roman Fry could be figure in at left guard or he could figure in at left tackle as a back up role or possibly playing. He had a good spring at both spots.

Talk about the new depth because of all of the redshirts.

What it did, first of all, it gave us a starter. Nathan Bennett will start for us at right guard. He will be a redshirt freshman so he will have a great opportunity to be a four year starter. So that means he is a little bit ahead of some of the other guys. He had a good spring. He's strong, 308 pounds, can run, and be a good football player. Roman Fry added tremendous depth to our program because him and Nathan really had a good spring. Roman is a guy that can play at tackle or guard. Right now, those are the two top guys as far as the redshirt freshmen. The next guy would probably be Dustin Fry. We worked him at center and some guard. Looking at him right now, we are going to keep him at center. The next guy would be Tim Debeer. We worked him at tackle, and he did a pretty good job at tackle until he got hurt. But obviously anytime you add guys to the numbers, you create more competition and create depth. One guy already has a starting job and I could see a couple other guys figuring in before the year is out.

Talk about the incumbents you have coming back like William Henry.

Well, the biggest thing that William did was put on about twenty-one pounds. He went from 271 to 291. Hopefully by next fall, he will be up to 300 or 305 pounds. That’s what we are hoping. Biggest thing is that William added strength, both upper and lower body. He really had a good spring. He improved on some areas that he really needed to improve on. He definitely had his best spring and created some separation at that spot. Right now, he is the starting left tackle.

Have you seen some marked improvement from the people coming back as a unit?

No doubt. The biggest thing that you have is last year opening at Georgia is that you had one guy returning from the offensive line that had battled in the heat of the battle consistently and battled as a starter. This year you are going to have four. I saw tremendous improvement from that group because we did accomplish a lot of our goals this spring.

Offensive Line Depth Chart

LT	70	William Henry	^Gr.
	72	Roman Fry	*Fr. or
        77	Brad Lee	*Fr.
LG	65	Cedric Johnson	*Jr.
	72	Roman Fry	*Fr.
C	53	Tommy Sharpe	*Jr.
	62	Dustin Fry	*Fr.
RG	63	Nathan Bennett	*Fr.	
        64	Chip Myrick	*So.
RT	78	Gregory Walker	Sr.
	73	Tim Debeer	*Fr.

Incoming Freshmen
Clint LaTray     6-3 265 Allen, TX 
Marion Dukes     6-4 290 Pickens, SC 
Brandon Pilgrim  6-5 270 Lilburn, GA 
Christian Capote 6-5 291 Miami 
Chris McDuffie   6-5 310 Hargrave

Are you in a situation where you are comfortable with Tommy Sharpe at center?

I am very comfortable with Tommy Sharpe. There is no doubt about it. He has created separation at the position. In my twenty something years doing this, I see him being a good football player for us. He is 270 pounds. He is strong in his lower and upper body. You couldn’t imagine how strong he is. He leverages people well and with what we try to do with our centers, I am very comfortable with him.

Talk about the adjustment from finesse style last year to more of a smash mouth offense.

Well, I think the biggest thing is that we were trying to do through the winter and spring is to create a tough attitude on the entire football team. We are going to run it right here and let's see if you can stop it. If they can not stop it, then let's see if we can keep doing it. The biggest thing is that we were trying to create that kinf of attitude. We will continue to run our one back sets and move the football out of the spread. But we were trying to create that attitude early in the spring. Now we will be able to do more. A percentage of the time we will be in the I formation and a percentage of the time we will be in a tight and 3 wide and part of the time we will be in the 4 wide. So we are going to keep mixing it up. Bottom line was that we wanted to create that attitude.

The emphasis was we were going to try to run the ball out of the I (formation). We were going to line up in a two back set and run the ball. We knew that when we did that if it was a tight and two wide offense then basically we were going to have nine guys on the line of scrimmage. We were going to develop a tailback that could run over somebody as Keith Kelly did many times or make a guy miss like Merriweather, Coleman and Browning did or run over someone like Harrell and Jasmin did. We wanted to create a mindset and an attitude and we did.

Switching some from spread and I does that affect the lineman much?

The only thing the spread offense does is it creates more space. When you are not as big and you are as strong then it creates an opportunity to run the football with space. For once we are a little bit stronger upfront. Just to give you a heads up on this so you can see where we are – everybody in the starting five offensive linemen will bench over 400 pounds right now and over 500 pounds on the squat. Some will be even higher than that. If you look at what we trotted out there a year ago we were not that strong.

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