You'll have to come back to macon.com Wednesday morning for the story on the offensive line and what the Jackets believe they can do to improve there, but for now, check out these quotes from players and coaches about the line. As you'll recall, Paul Johnson blamed inexperience against the bigger, older, more physical Clemson defensive line as a factor to last Saturday's loss:
Sean Bedford, senior center(On having the bye this week) It’s a really good time to get back to the fundamentals and really get back to the basics for the next couple of days.
The thing that separates last year from this year, it would be easy to say that we just aren’t making the plays we were last year, but it’s more that we just haven’t seized the opportunities when they’ve been there this year. It’ll be, one guy will miss a block or someone will just not be where they’re supposed to be on a given play. It’s frustrating to watch on tape sometimes because it’ll seem that we’re just one block or one cut or just one small detail away from busting a big play and being successful.
Cordaro Howard was one guy who was really overlooked and I don’t think a lot of people gave him credit for what he was really able to accomplish. Going into the season, we knew we were going to miss Cord and one of the young guys was going to have to step up. Joe (Gilbert) did a great job, too, last year and we had guys who had been starting multiple years out there. But lack of experience is no excuse. We had guys who, in some of the younger guys’ case, it was the first time they had been into a real hostile environment like Clemson and they’ll get another dose of that a week from Thursday. I don’t know exactly what it is, but the biggest thing on tape to me is that our fundamentals aren’t what they were last year. We aren’t playing as low, as fast. Our hand-placement isn’t as good as it was last year. That’s something that we really have to focus on this week.
(On how much focus this week is on fundamentals) Obviously, we have to worry about Virginia Tech, but we also have to make sure that we’re at the top of our game and we haven’t done that this season. And when you don’t have a game to prepare for this Saturday, it really gives you a good opportunity to put the magnifying glass on yourself and say, ‘OK, what do I need to do better?’ That’s something that I’m going to work on on the offensive line is that we all come into this week with that type of mindset, individually and as a unit.
(On what he needs to do better specifically) I need to be better at communicating; especially to the tackles. I need to do a better job of getting push to the point of attack, I need to do a better job with my hands. That’s going to be what I focus on the first part of this week.
(On handling the noise of a tough environment like Clemson as a young player) It can be tough, but honestly, when you’re prepared enough and you’re confident enough in your abilities and your teammates, it really doesn’t come into play that much. Where it causes issues is when not everybody is perfectly in sync. And when everybody knows what to look for, you don’t even need to hear the calls sometimes, you can tell what’s going on. But unfortunately we’re not at that point yet.
Todd Spencer, co-offensive line coach
The main thing looking at the film that Coach Johnson and Coach Sewak and I and all the coaches are looking for is just a lot more precision and detail and execution of our offense. Especially some of our base offensive plays that we’ve run for a number of years. There are just too many missed assignments by guys. There’s just a real lack of detail fundamentally that we’re looking for and the thing about it is, they’re all correctable things.
(On if he's surprised by the lack of consistent play so far) You always got to have high expectations and when they’re not met, the standards aren’t met, you always look at everything. We’ve just got to do a better job of coaching details.
(On main things they have to work on) The thing we’ve got to eliminate is our missed assignments more than anything right now. Guys going the wrong way, guys not hearing the snap count. Guys who are late off the football. They didn’t hear the call from a guy they haven’t played with before. Just a myriad of mistakes that we have to clean up. The good news is that we can clean them up and we can play better. I have all the confidence in the world that these guys will rebound and play well at Virginia Tech.
(On if injuries had an affect on the inconsistency) It’s always hard when you’re always mixing and matching and playing guys that haven’t always played together. Our offense is based around timing and precision and some of the stuff is not as clean as it should be. You certainly don’t want to make excuses; guys should be ready to go. But anytime you’re piecemealing things together because of injuries, the timing and the execution’s not where you want it.
Mike Sewak, co-offensive line coach (On difference between this year, last year) We didn’t make as many critical errors in the tough situations. You still have some production, but you’re just not the same. Every group is different. You’ve got to take your highs with your highs and accentuate your positives and relegate your negatives to being minute factors in the game.