Friday, February 27, 2009

Coachspeak: Grimes, Boulware

I took this one myself! Not really.

Continuing with our "coachspeak" series of the past several days...

Grimes: Quotes via Bitter, Goldberg, Tate, Woodbery.

Hey, whaddya know, he's not happy about the offensive line numbers. Grimes said he'd prefer 17 guys on scholarship on the line. Auburn will have 12 this fall. If there's any positives here, it's that only two of those 12 (Andrew McCain and Rudy Odom, the latter of which would be a redshirt senior and may not be renewed for the fall depending on how many of the current class qualify) will finish up in '09, so that's only seven guys to recruit this year! No wonder Grimes sounded a little frustrated at the pickle he's been placed in...
"Typically, you’re not going to have guys coming in and playing a lot as true freshmen. That’s not the way you’d like for it to be. We’d like for those guys to come in and redshirt and have a year or two and get ready to go. But that’s fixing not to be the situation for us. Most of the guys we have on scholarship are juniors. We’re really heavily stacked in the junior class, which will be great for this year and next year, but not great after that."
... for which I don't blame him. Likewise, it's not surprising he mentioned he might have to bring in a couple of JUCOs as a stopgap. Auburn pretty much has to to have a viable second-string in 2010, barring some serious, heavy-duty recruiting on the part of Chizik and crew.

Grimes isn't reinventing the wheel. Frankly, I was a little surprised that he came right out and said a few guys had a head start on starting positions thanks to their experience--even if that's gotta be the case 99 percent of the time, you gotta expect the "Everything's open, no one has a job, we're going into spring with a blank slate and see what happens, yadda yadda yadda" from new coaches. Instead, we've got a de facto starting five as reported by Bitter and Woodbery: from L to R, Ziemba, Isom, Pugh, Berry, and McCain. Grimes may talk about how open the jobs are ...
"We’ll certainly have a starting point but we’re not going to necessarily line up and say, ‘You guys are No. 1 until you lose the job.’ We’re going to say, ‘You guys have the opportunity to start out here,’ but this guy right here is right behind him and it may vary by day or by series."
... but if you're Jared Cooper, Bart Eddins, or A.J. Greene (the three guys Grimes mentioned as potential usurpers), you obviously have some work ahead of you.

Houston, do we have a problem? Bitter writes that Grimes wants Auburn's linemen to be "in the 300- to 310-pound range," but man, that seems awfully heavy across the board if you're expecting them to take 80 snaps a game. As we all know, they slimmed down to the 280 range for Franklin's O, and Malzahn's even more psychotic about pace than Franklin was ... I really have to wonder how this is going to work itself out, because in this interview, at least (where Grimes also states that a recruit has to "obviously, be big enough), we're not offered much in the way of compromise.

"'Tweeners." That's how Grimes labeled incoming linemen Andre Harris and John Sullen; in other words, no read yet on whether they'll play guard or tackle.

Smashin' mouths. Like his predecessor at OL coach, Grimes is at least talking the talk when it comes to shoving folks around out of a two-point stance. He uses the words "tough" or "toughness" five times is six sentences here, for instance, here says his guys will be "be physical on every stinkin’ play." Sounds great, but it's easier said now than done on the offense's 77th snap (and 36th passing play) at the end of the fourth quarter in Baton Rouge ... especially if the line's still carrying some excess weight. We'll see, but I think Grimes--because of the weight thing, the tempo thing, the depth thing, and even the "I've never coached east of the Mississippi or with a single guy on this staff before" thing--has his work cut for him as much as any coach on the staff, save possibly Malzahn.

That sucks. Grimes' first meeting with the media, and he's sporting a shiner acquired when he was carrying his sick dog to the car on his way to put it to sleep. That's all kinds of sad.

Boulware: Quotes via Bitter, Tate, Goldberg, Woodbery.

Lutzenkirchen. I saw more than a few references on Signing Day about Lutz being too thin and frail to compete for playing time right away, which rather confused me, seeing as Lutz had arguably the best hands in his class in the country and he's joining a team whose hands have been made of greased cement the past few seasons. Boulware sees it my way:
"Phenomenal athlete. Phenomenal athlete. Tremendous hands. We plan on Philip being a big part of what we’re doing next season. I think Philip is exactly what we’re looking for and I look forward to coaching him."
They might just need him: Trott won't be recovered from his ACL tear in time for spring and McKenzie, you'll recall, spent most of last year at defensive end. Quite honestly, I don't see how Lutzenkirchen doesn't find his way onto the field.

The mystery deepens. Durst is on the team, but that's still all we know. Is he on scholarship? Will he leave the team again if one isn't found after the current class enrolls? Is there some other arrangement in place? It's rarely so obvious that the coaches are hiding information this ... well, interesting.

He's right. Boulware made multiple comments to the effect that aside from the Auburn kickoff return and Wes Byrum's unfortunate stuggles, Auburn's special teams were excellent. And as much as that sounds like an "Aside from that, how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?" kind of defense, that's pretty much the case: Auburn finished the season ranked 12th in Phil Steele's special teams rating. You can quibble with Steele's specific methodologies if you like, but it doesn't change the facts: Auburn's non-Shoemaker punting and returns were all terrific.

That's kind of you to say. Boulware called the current Auburn staff the best one he's been on, including the Texas staff he served as a graduate assistant. Awwwww. Perhaps more interesting among his non-Auburn comments was his description of how young Iowa St. really was last year:
He cited the fact that they had 33 freshmen and sophomores on the two-deep. "Which is unheard of in the Big 12," he said. "I definitely believe we were making progress. I believe we got better. I think if you ask the majority of people, they saw a quicker, faster football team in our second year. We were just really young ... They say you lose two games for every true freshman that you start and we didn’t have 18 games to play."
Boulware also claims according to Bitter that Iowa St. was close to winning several more games: he's correct on this point, as ISU went 0-3 in one-possession games, 0-4 if you include the 38-30 loss to Kansas St., and outgained Iowa by 85 yards in a game that hinged on a Hawkeye punt return. For whatever that's worth.

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