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By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky offensive line coach John Schlarman took time after practice last week (he was not available after UK’s scrimmage Saturday when walk-on Max Godby took the snaps at center with the No. 1 offense) to offer insights on how UK’s offensive line is progressing as the Cats prepare to open the season Aug. 31 in Nashville against Western Kentucky.
Question: What is it like for offensive linemen to try and learn to play more than one position in this offense?
Schlarman: “I think in this offense you can learn multiple spots. I think when we are running zone (blocking) and pass protecting, it is very similar based on different positions and you are doing a lot of the same stuff. I don’t think it is that difficult. They are smart guys and are picking up on it pretty quickly. One thing that always enables you to do is keep your best five out there and be able to adjust the pieces of the puzzle to make it fit. If a guy goes down, instead of bringing in your ninth or 10th best overall guy, you can potentially bring in your sixth best guy. There might be a big gap in there. So it lets you keep your best guys on the field.”
Question: Do you like having just one center or will you rotate players there?
Schlarman: “Ideally you would like to find a guy and keep him in there and not rotate a whole heck of a lot at that position. But the more guys you can develop to play that position, the better off you will be. Especially in the SEC with the schedule we have got, you have to have guys ready to go. Like when Zach Myers went down in practice early (with an ankle injury), we had to have other guys ready to go. Zach West and Max Godby got us through and Jon Toth had a lot of reps in the spring, too. It’s a spot where you would like to settle into one guy and let him roll with it and take the bull by the horns and be the leader.”
Question: Was it a big setback for Myers to have to miss some practice?
Schlarman: “He is a really smart young man. Whatever was new, he will get mental reps and learned off field. He can stay sharp, but you have to see anything happen to anybody, but especially somebody who has worked really hard like him. He has done that and we have asked a lot of him. Sometimes we forget just because he is with the No. 1 unit that he is a redshirt freshman. He is still a young guy. Some of the stuff he sees, it is still the first time he is seeing it, so you have to be a little bit patient with a guy like that and just bring him along.”
Question: What is the difference in Myers and West at center?
Schlarman: “Myers has played the position for a long time so he is very comfortable with the ball in his hand. With West, he has played some guard, some center. That is something he has to get more familiar with is just the art of snapping and doing whatever he has to do other than snapping at the same time. That is something that doesn’t come quite as natural to him as Zach Myers. But there are other things that Zach West brings to the table that Zach Myers has to work on. We just have to get one guy in there and get him settled down to where he feels comfortable.”