Friday, April 18, 2008

Bob Palcic on the Line

The offensive line this spring has been taking a beating and not just on Spalding field. They've gotten a bad rap from the media and fans who have watched practice this spring. I thought it would be interesting to look at some of the comments from offensive line coach Bob Palcic on how he thinks this unit will perform come September.

The big concern with the line is the lack of experience. Only Micah Reed and Micah Kia have significant playing experience. Palcic has some optimism about this squad, because he has worked with inexperienced players before. He had this to say, after Thursday's practice:
Have you ever had a line with this little experience?

“The line that I had at the University of Wisconsin two years ago...Joe Thomas, the Outland Trophy winner, didn’t practice in the spring...that line, minus the Outland trophy winner, was pretty much like this line. And we won twelve games, so I’m confident that if we keep working hard, and keep concentrating and pay attention to details that we can develop into a solid unit.”
For most of spring practice, the first-unit offensive line has been Sean Sheller (right tackle), Scott Glicksberg (right guard), Micah Reed (center), Darius Savage (left guard) and Micah Kia (left tackle). Bob thinks that these player are a solid unit:
"I think Micah Reed will be a good, solid center for us," offensive line coach Bob Palcic said. "Micah Kia is the most experienced player I have, and I have some other kids that are really good kids and have a good work ethic, and they'll keep improving."
While that starting unit is pretty set, the second string is still a work in progress. After last Saturday's scrimmage, Palcic had this take on the line's depth:
"I thought that the first line did a commendable job for a first scrimmage, for being as young and inexperienced as they are. The second offensive line, we need to get much, much better."
The big shake up this spring was Alexi Lanis taking a medical retirement. That hurt the squad's depth but it does give an opportunity for his backup Sean Sheller to step up and prove himself worthy of the starting role at right tackle. Palcic thinks that the red-shirt sophomore has a lot of potential:
"I think Sheller's a good athlete. I think he'll develop into a good player. He's got quick feet. He's good in space."

Does Sheller have confidence?

"He's getting there. You can't have confidence until you've mastered a subject, and he has not mastered the subject, and none of my players have. We're a work in progress, and hopefully working in that direction."
One of the problems with the line is a large number of false starts and bad snaps. The exchange between center and the quarterback was a big problem on Thursday and the coaches are looking to fix that problem ASAP. It looks like it will be a long season with this unit and coach Palcic has no delusions about the difficult road ahead of him this season:
Is this one of the toughest challenges you’ve had as a coach?

“This ranks up there with the toughest challenges I’ve had, yes.”
With all the struggles and challenges this team has faced during the spring, it should start getting much better going forward. The installation is done and now it is just a matter of drilling and refining them into a cohesive unit.
Generally, how do you look at the development of the o-line thus far this spring?

“I think for the most part we’ve improved each and every practice. We still have a long way to go, but we pretty much have everything installed that will be going in for the Tennessee game, so the learning process will slow down and the execution should improve.”