Swinney's golf outing was this week, which is basically the only real press released between the Spring game and August. Each assistant coach spends some time with the media, their only time with media until next season, since only coordinators do press conferences during the season....a travesty because we should all be allowed to listen to Robbie Caldwell at least once a week.
After reading the articles and listening to videos and recordings, it seems that there has been a lot of time spend talking about the OL. They've spent some time calling out Isaiah Battle during this media event. I agree with them in that its mostly up to him how good he wants to be. If he commits himself to being a 1st round pick, which I believe he can be, then he will be one. Its not up to Dabo or Caldwell or The Chad. He showed us what he could do at LT against some damn good Ends in the bowl game, now he just has to continue to do it.
Dabo: "But maybe he'll be a great backup. Maybe by midseason he'll be ready to mature."
"We'll see. He was a long way away in the spring. Just commitment, maturity. Just not quite ready to bite that bit down. That's why I'm kind of anxious to get to camp. Where is he mentally? I know he's probably had a solid summer, but also inconsistent and frustrating to some of the guys.
"He's a player who we don't want to be patient on. Because it's all there for him. Is he ready to be a starter? I'd say he's a long way from that based on what I saw this spring. But I'm also encouraged by what I saw in the spring."
Chad: "You'd like to be able to say Battle is far enough along. We had this conversation last spring. You saw the LSU game. But that never materialized. We wanted it more than he did."
Caldwell: "Ideally his progress could give us more flexibility. My first year here Brandon Thomas played guard. I don't know how long it'll take. We had hoped in the spring that maybe Isaiah would step up but we didn't quite get that accomplished. There's a lot of work to do. I'd hoped he'd have a better summer putting on weight and he hasn't. That doesn't mean it can't be done. Isaiah loves to play basketball and he'll run his weight off quickly. He's strong in his upper body and can match most people in our group. I'd just like to have more bulk about him. Obviously the knowledge is important. In the summer I can't be with him, so they have to teach each other and look at tape. In the summer, the older ones are good at that. It's like Isaiah getting thrown into the game in the bowl. It was culture shock for him. 'Oh my goodness. They're moving. They're not just sitting still. What do I do?' He's got to mature in football."
Other notable comments were on the flexibility that having Battle would allow on the Oline. Putting him in fulltime would allow us to play with Thomas at RT or at Guard, where I believe his best chance at the NFL lies. It would be really nice to see David Beasley step up and take control of the LG position and slide Thomas into RG or RT. Then we could pull to both sides of the line, because Shatley is not the best puller -- footwork and angles need work. Timothy isn't quick enough at RT either to block the better DEs we'll face this year, and I'm seriously hoping Gore raises his game and takes that spot. Ideally I would love to see a lineup of Battle-Beasley-Norton-Thomas-Gore. MacLain is an option at RT as well, but has manned the LT position thus far.
Caldwell: "Eric MacLain gives us more flexibility moving from tight end to tackle. We didn't ask him to do a great deal because it's not fair. He had to learn to play first because it's different. He adjusted to that well, so this summer we said, 'Hey, there might be some possibilities at guard. Get in there, work at it and see how it goes.' His teammates have been impressed with his physical ability and how he's done there. Tackles are more finesse now sometimes. Big guys are more inside now, but we're different. Everybody has to be able to run and think and pull. We do multiple things up front which is really good."
They challenged Kalon Davis to likewise step up his game in the weight room:
Caldwell: "Kalon has to set his attitude that it's what he wants to do. Sometimes he does not take football seriously. A lot of young people are that way. He has the ability to do great things. You know he missed a year with a back injury, so his lower body strength is just catching up. You really have to work at that. It's something that is not fun for him. To be a great offensive lineman, you have to love the weight room. Brandon Thomas, Jay, Shatley, Ryan, they love the weight room. And they're constantly working at it. Brandon just benched 500 pounds. We had to put him on hold."
Dabo: "Kalon has got to take the next step. He's got all the tools. He can do it all. He just has to take the next step from a mentality standpoint, a day-in and day-out commitment to be great and compete at the highest level."
Though at this point in his career, I do not see Davis as being more than a capable backup for the rest of his days here. I wouldn't want to lose him to attrition (unlike some others), but if Beasley loses the LG spot its because of himself.
I have heard nothing concrete on the weight status of Spencer Region or Jerome Maybank. We've not heard more than an occasional rumor about their status. I don't expect Maybank to be here in 2014 unless theres a drastic change, and frankly I don't expect much out of Region any longer either unless he reports to camp at <320. I'm very encouraged about Crowder's weight loss, I feared he would be another Region if he couldn't get the weight down immediately. Hopefully he'll end up with a RS and continue to get closer to 300 lbs.