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Question: What’s the key for a lineman to be able to play in this offense?
Schlarman: “For offensive linemen, it is important to be athletic and important to be able to move. With the schemes we have in the run game, you have to move and get in space to block linebackers. On screens you have to get out and move. Pass protection you have to protect against ends that you see in the SEC. Athleticism is key. You have to have certain size requirements. I like guy to be strong, smart, tough. All those are important. It’s really important to be athletic up front.”
Question: It is hard to find linemen that are athletic as well as smart and tough?
Schlarman: “That is good question. There are certain elements you can instill in guy but it is something you got to have inside of him to make him go. When we get guy that is 18 or 19, it’s hard to instill. You have to be tough and physical in our system just like in a pro style offense. Toughness is not something to overlook. Toughness is not a distance second to athleticism
“A lot of time when you research and watch film you can tell a lot about a guy’s character and toughness and some things that do not show up on field. One thing I always think is hard to tell is how will a guy get from high school to this environment where it is more competitive, happening faster and all the guys are bigger. How will he do in this environment? That is one of hardest thing to project. Some guys turn it up a notch, others do not respond. You can tell lot about toughenss and how physical a guy is from recruiting but ability to transfer it to the next level is hard to project.”
Question: Does he have returning players slotted into a depth chart going into spring practice?
“We have watched some film and what players have done in the past just so we can a good idea where to start everybody off. But we basically go into this with a clean slate and open mind. I don’t want to hold too much against a guy if in past he has not looked as good as I would like or give a guy too much credit for what did in the past. I went through it as player when coach Mumme came to Kentucky and I have to prove myself all over. If a guy has done well and has to prove himself again it is not a great thing, but guys that are true competitors do not mind and will crank it back up. It is a mix that you watch what they have done but you also go into the spring with an open mind to find out who can do what running the offense that we do.”
Question: Does it worry you going into spring practice that you don’t have a center with experience?
Schlarman: “Ideally you would like to have a guy that has a little experience, but at the same token we have got some guys that can definitely show us what they can do in that role. We will probably try two or three that have not played and see how they perform. It is a key position for what we do. Usually the center is a guy that leads us up front and makes all the calls. He is our quarterback on the offensive line. I am anxious to see some of the guys that step in and show what they can do.”