OC Troy Walters Talks Offensive Line Progress as Fall Camp Continues
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

OC Troy Walters Talks Offensive Line Progress as Fall Camp Continues

August 15, 2018

Troy Walters talked about the quarterbacks Wednesday, but he played things pretty close to the chest. Quarterback coach Mario Verduzco had the real news on the competition. The offensive coordinator was a little more forthcoming when talking about the offensive line, though. Let’s start there.

“I think we’re deep. Having Cole Conrad back is a plus,” Walters said when meeting with the media Wednesday morning. “They understand that it comes down to them. If they can dominate up front, if they can control the line of scrimmage, that’s what makes this offense go. They’ve bought into that.”

We might have gotten a look at how exactly that line is shaping up when the team opened the first 30 minutes of practice in the morning. Four of the five names have been known for some time – Brenden Jaimes will play left tackle, Jerald Foster left guard, Tanner Farmer right guard and Matt Farniok right tackle – but the center position has been a mystery.

Foster and Farmer took snaps there during practice, but Cole Conrad appears to be the guy in the middle.

Walters says the biggest difference in the group between now and the spring is conditioning.

“I think the offensive line, No. 1, they’ve gotten in better shape,” he said. “Some guys that needed to lose fat have lost fat and some guys that needed to put on weight have put on some weight. Just taking care of their body. So, in terms of the offense, they really understand what we’re trying to do run game, protection-wise.

“We haven’t taken a step back from where we were in the spring and that’s encouraging.”

Walters said the defense has helped things along, too. In his mind, the won’t see a more exotic front seven all year than the one they’re seeing in practice.

“With our defense, those guys get so many different looks, I don’t think we’re going to find a defensive front that gives us as many looks as our defense,” he said. “They’re really testing our offensive line and they’re doing a good job.”

With only a few weeks to go before the season begins, Walters doesn’t want to see that progress slowed.

“This time in fall camp, great players sustain, [with] average players you see a dip in their production, [with] poor players you see big dips. Across the board we’ve got to maintain,” he said. “Everyone’s sore, they’re tired, they’re fatigued, we’ve basically got everything in and so now it’s up to us to maintain.”

Other News and Notes

>> Tre Bryant was limited in practice on Wednesday but running backs coach Ryan Held made sure to point out it was a “nicked ankle” and not anything to do with the back’s knees.

>> Jack Stoll has had a very impressive fall camp. The tight end was the first name out of Walters’ mouth when asked about the group in general. Walters said that unit as a whole had the best scrimmage of anyone last Sunday, but Stoll has been a standout.

Redshirt freshman Austin Allen said Stoll has taken it upon himself to help the young guys get better all the while knowing they’re coming for his job. Tight ends coach Sean Beckton said that doesn’t come naturally for Stoll but they’re pushing him to be more of a leader and he’s responding well.

Jacob Padilla will have more on Stoll later.

>> On Greg Bell, Walters says the junior college transfer at running back has turned a corner of sorts in fall camp.

“In the spring he was just kind of going on athletic ability,” Walters said. “Now he truly understands the offense, he’s not making as many mental errors as he did in the spring. He’s a guy you’ve just got to get the ball in his hands and he’s able to make some things happen.”

Bell said he’s working hardest on his blocking and physicality. Seems important to his position coach, Ryan Held.

Greg Smith will have more on him later.

>> While Verduzco admitted the race was down to two, Walters was a little more reserved when speaking on the quarterbacks.

“They’re all doing a good job. This week we’re going to evaluate them and then going into next week we’re going to make some decisions as we get closer to a game,” he said. “All those guys are competing and they all bring different elements to the table. We’ve just got to figure out which one leads the offense the best and that’s going to be our guy. But they all have to be ready.

“Everybody’s getting reps. That’s still even. Across the board, everybody’s getting their fair amount of reps. We’re still evaluating and going into next week we’ll probably make some personnel decisions and start getting guys in specific roles.”

>> Walters has seen a change in wideout Tyjon Lindsey. Lindsey a season ago was his harshest critic. In the spring, he talked about self-inflicted wounds a season ago. On Wednesday, Walters said he has come back a more focused player.

“He comes out with a purpose,” Walters said. “We had a heart-to-heart this summer about his goals and what he wanted to accomplish. He told me and I told him what it’s going to take. It’s going to take someone that’s focused every day … and he’s come out focused.”

>> Verduzco was the latest coach to talk about the benefit of having Grant Wistrom and Jason Peter in to talk with the team. One of his main takeaways was changing the way the team practiced.

“They know something about how practice should feel and look, and I suspect our guys are learning what that needs to be like,” Verduzco said. “Is it where Coach Frost, Coach [Chinander] want it to be? Sometimes it is, but I think in terms of the total program, we have to get to that level that Grant and Jason were talking to us about.”

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