BallStateinsider.com writers Doug Schrader, Andy Thorpe and Levin Black recently had a conversation on the position of offensive line with 4 of the Cardinals regular contributors at the position. Next up is Jr. Tackle Andre Ramsey and true Fr. guard Mike Switzer.
BSI: Compare your system now with new coach John Powers to what you had in place before
Andre Ramsey: Our system has gotten a lot better since my freshman year. When I was a freshman we didn’t have a lot of calls, therefore there was a lot of miscommunication not knowing who to block lot of missed blocks. The zone scheme that we have and the scheme that coach powers has put in it has a lot more communication.
BSI: Tell us a little about what a zone scheme is:
AR: In the zone scheme, you block an area more than a certain man, and you block anyone that comes into your zone. If they overload and someone blitzes or is in the wrong gap and I have two guys in my area, well, I’m not too concerned because the running backs will see that and will be able to gash them on that and run to the area they were supposed to be in.
BSI: Tell us about pass blocking, how it differs from run blocking and the different things you do on a 5 or 7 step drop as opposed to a rollout:
AR: Pass protection – that is man on man blocking scheme. You have to be athletic and good with your hands. Whereas on run blocking, you have to chop your feet. For the offensive lineman, on a 5 step drop, you have the QB 10 yards behind the line and 7-step is like 14 and if I am a tackle and want to run my guy by, then I have to run him out a lot further on the 7. On a rollout, if he is rolling out to my side, I block in towards the middle. If it is away, I am sitting opposite so I am trying to keep the guy from coming behind.
BSI: Tell us a little about how you line up and how, if at all, the defensive line dictates how you line up:
Mike Switzer: My feet are shoulder width apart. I am a little behind the center. We are off the line a little.
AR: Since I am a tackle, my feet are further back so I can set up. The guard is right off the center’s shoulder I am a little further back than that. Were I line, that depends on the technique in front of you. If they are a 5 technique, then you want your splits wider.
BSI: Should a guard be more athletic than a tackle or should they be bigger?
MS: We have a sweep play and I have to pull around the edge. In some cases we have to be a bit more athletic because the guard is doing a lot of the pulling.
AR: A lot of places, the guard is bigger than the tackles. Tackles have to be more athletic, but strength is also important. Technique is great, but you have to be strong enough to handle the guy in front of you. I wasn’t always the strongest guy, but I have improved a lot since coming here.
BSI: Final question, Shorter and quicker or bigger and stronger D-lineman give you fits? And how do hands factor in?
MS: Either one is difficult. You have to be able to get on them and stay on them, you have to keep your eyes on them and what they are going to do with their hands. You have to have your hands ready for what they will do so that you can still engage them.
AR: Strength and quickness far and away. Last year when I went against LaMarr Woodley (at Michigan) he isn’t the tallest guy, but he is quick and strong.