Walker ready to run defenses

by - Senior Writer -
Landon Walker hopes to be in even better shape by the time fall camp rolls around

CLEMSON – Right tackle Landon Walker Landon Walker
Offensive Line
6-6, 310
North Wilkesboro, NC
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says it hasn’t taken long for him to get into the mind of new offensive coordinator Chad Morris, and he says he fully understands what Morris’ offense is all about.

“You are out here trying to run the defense into the ground. You want to take advantage of them,” Walker said following practice last week.

The senior out of North Wilkesboro, N.C. is having a good spring, and he said he is having a blast learning the new offense, even if it means taking his cardio work to a whole new level.

“I guess you heard, but we were all in shape when spring practice started,” Walker said. “But this has still been a test. The other day – at the end of practice – we had a 16-play drive and we got pretty gassed on that one. Now, we are going to have to transition this through the summer and show up in even better shape in the fall. It’s hard – we are still getting used to the style that we are playing.

“That 16-play drive took probably less than three minutes off of the game clock. It’s fun watching the defense get tired, which is something we’ve not been able to see a lot of around here. Especially when we get back-to-back big plays, and we are obviously getting back to the line quickly. It’s awesome to watch, and I can’t imagine what it will be like in the fall. We are simply wearing them down, catching them off-guard and hitting big plays.”

Walker said that winter workouts for the offensive linemen are usually reserved for lifting weights and strength work, but that all changed once the Morris hire was announced.

“We usually don’t run at all in the winter,” he said. “We just focus on getting stronger. This year it was more of a dual-type deal. We got stronger but we ran a lot, too. I feel like this has helped us a lot.”

In last year’s offense, the line would wait on the play call before getting into a stance, and then wait for quarterback Kyle Parker Kyle Parker
6-1, 200
Jacksonville, FL
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and center Dalton Freeman Dalton Freeman
Offensive Line
6-5, 285
Pelion, SC
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to make their respective line calls. Not so this season.

“We have to get to the ball as fast as we possibly can,” he said. “We have to get in our stance, and Tajh [Boyd] is getting the signal from the sideline as fast as he possibly can. And he lets us know what the call is. It’s a quick turnaround – as soon as the previous play is over, they know what play they are going to call and they are ready.

“Tajh gets the signal, comes to the line, gives the play calls, and then it’s cadence and go. After a play, there is no time to look around in the stands or worry about the previous play. And Tajh, he has done a really good job. I have been extremely impressed with how he has come around. He barely learned the last system and now he has to learn a new one. I am impressed with his confidence and poise.”

Morris has said he wants to run 80-plus plays per game, and Walker said he can see the logic behind that number.

“The more in shape that we can get this summer, and continue to do what Morris wants, the more this offense is going to wear people out,” he said. “You think back to last season when we were in the mid-70’s or upper 60’s [in plays per game], and we weren’t running at near this pace. Eighty-plus is extremely reasonable, considering the shape we are going to be in. That is two or three more drives per game, which means two or three more chances to score. This offense is not designed for a three-and-out, which is something we’ve had to face in the past.

“Unless you are beating yourself, it’s hard to stop. The hardest opponent we will have to face this fall is Clemson. In 2010, our hardest opponent was Clemson. I don’t feel like there was any team we played that we shouldn’t have beat. Now we have this in place, and it’s up to us to step up and not make mistakes.”

Walker said that learning the method behind Morris’ scheme has made going to practice seem more like fun instead of work.

“There is still a lot of stuff to put in, but I’m getting a good idea of what his play-calling will be like in a game,” he said. “In the fall, this is going to be fun, especially when you are catching the defense off-guard every other play. You don’t realize how much difference all this makes.”

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