With Cory Lambert edging out Landon Walker, and Price being named as 2nd-string behind Hairston, you have to wonder just what will happen against any DL with a couple of good defensive ends this year.
The issue with Lambert hasn't been his size or strength, its his motor.....it doesnt run on every play (Gaines Adams had the same problem until his final year). He was slow on his feet against FSU when Hairston was out, and got mauled. Unfortunately this year Walker's motor hasn't been running as well, and the job that was locked up for Nebraska has been a toss-up since Spring practice.
Lambert said the following about his outlook going into this year:
"I've got to play more with that meanness streak going through me. Coach Pearman told me that I've got every tool I need, physically. I just have to get into a different mental mindset. He's really working with me to hone in on the mindset that I need to be the type of physical lineman we have to have.
"I think I'm just realizing that this is it. This could be the end. This could be the last season of football for me. I want to do better. I want to go out better. I think that's probably motivated me more."
Coach Swinney has this to say about the battle between the two after Friday practice:
"The last two or three days Cory Lambert has stepped up and made a little bit of a move. He had a decent scrimmage the other day and has had a couple of good practices. He had a pretty good day today. Coach Pearman seems to be really pushing him and getting a lot out of him. That's good to see. And Landon is working hard, too, but Cory has been more consistent."
"He's being more aggressive and isn't making as many busts. He seems to be more in to it. He's got as much physical ability as anyone. That's not the issue. He's a great kid and a nice guy but it's that work ethic every day that you have to have to be a great player and that's where he was inconsistent," noted the head coach. "He's being more consistent now with his motor and work ethic."
But an interview with Danny Pearman was probably the most telling of any thus far in camp. Reading this for the first time, I thought immediately of Danny Ford.
What's your evaluation of the tackles at this point?
Pearman. "So far Chris Hairston is our bell cow at left tackle. He's had a pretty good camp. He's in a little bit better shape than what he was last year, I guess. He's been solid. On the right side, it's been inconsistent and day-to-day. One guy shines, one guy's down. The next day it's a different guy shining. But the last two scrimmages, Cory Lambert has done a little better than Landon Walker.
"I feel both those guys will compete and play the right tackle position for us, and both of them deserve to play some right tackle. So it may be a week-to-week thing: If one guy starts and he doesn't perform, the next guy will play. But we've had a good camp with both of them. We just need to find a consistent player there.
"We've obviously moved Phillip Price to left tackle. He's got a lot of reps this camp. That's not to say he's ready to play at the highest level yet, but he also is over there getting a lot of work. We've also used Jamarcus Grant outside. Those are the main five guys that we've worked."
What's the issue with Landon and Cory? Is it motivation?
Pearman. "I wouldn't say it's an issue. They're just not playing up to what we consider winning football at that spot. They have to constantly be pushed. In their mind, I think a lot of times they think they're doing their job. But you've just got to make sure they do it every play."
"Cory has repped some (at LT). Jamarcus has repped some out there as a backup left tackle. But Hairston is the left tackle. And we'd spell him right now with Cory or Jamarcus if we had to play tomorrow."
How do you go about instilling toughness on the offensive line?
Pearman. "You instill toughness Monday through Friday. Saturday should be easy if you've done your job through the week. Toughness comes with reps. Toughness comes with attitude. Toughness comes with doing things that aren't easy, and in practice when it's not easy. Toughness comes with blocking the man right up over the top of you - doing it over and over and over and being confident you can do it.
"That becomes hard. You put kids in hard situations in practice so that they can be successful on Saturday."
How tough was the line when you got here last December?
Pearman. "I don't know. I just know the work we're trying to put in now. I think the worst thing you can do as a new coach is to come in and talk about the old regime. I think you serve two purposes that are wrong. It's not fair to the last guys, because you weren't here. The only thing you can do is grab the baton and do your job while you're here.
"I think what we've tried to do is build on these guys and work them hard this camp. Hopefully we can reap some benefits from it. Hopefully we will be a tougher collective body."
Has the offensive line come a long way in the area of toughness since the start of spring ball?
Pearman. "It'll be seen September 5th. I don't think you can say that yet. It'll have to be a game-type situation before we say, 'Hey, that's a tough group up front.'"
If that doesnt sound like Danny to you then I don't know what does. We might be jumping on Pearman by week 3 for his coaching ability, but he certainly sounds the part.