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Offseason Offensive Line Updates

Kyler Kerbyson-1I spent some time with returning seniors Kyler Kerbyson and Marcus Jackson before the VFL Career Development Night on Wednesday. They gave a few updates on how the offensive line is progressing over the offseason.

Kerbyson working only at LT: Most notable was Kerbyson saying that he has been working almost exclusively at left tackle this offseason and hasn’t been doing much cross-training at guard and center like he has in the past. It’s obviously still pre-spring, so things like this certainly aren’t permanent, but it sounds like the initial plan might be to keep him there despite the pretty common notion that it’s not his most natural position.

“It’s going great,” Kerbyson said. “We’re getting more molded into our positions and being able to stay in one spot, which is going to be nice. Not as much (position switching) as I was before. I’m at left tackle right now and last year I was at right guard at this point, so I’m happy to be able to stay in one spot, hopefully I’ll play there this season and not switch, but we’ll see what happens…It’s definitely going to help a lot.”

James in town working with O-line: Kerbyson said former Vol and 2014 first-round pick of the Miami Dolphins Ja’Wuan James has been in town working with the group and helping him learn some technique at the tackle position.

“Ja’Wuan has actually been here for the past week and he’s gone through position drills with us and I’ve learned a lot from him. I’m just a sponge trying to soak everything in from what he’s learned in the NFL and he really has helped me with my sets, my punch and all that stuff.”

Kerbyson mentoring the younger guys: Speaking of positions, it sounds like Jack Jones, who said in his initial interviews that he could play guard or tackle, is getting his first work at tackle, a spot Kerbyson has been mentoring him at. Kerbyson gave his thoughts on both Jones and newcomer Chance Hall:

“They’re young. They’re like every other newcomer, they don’t know exactly what’s going on – they’re kind of just thrown in there. Jack (Jones) – he’s a great guy to listen – he listens very well to me, he takes coaching really well. When we first started in the spring, none of the coaches were there, it was just up to us to teach him, and the older guys are interior – I was the only one that was a tackle – so I was teaching him and he was trying to soak it all in and trying to be the best he can.

“And Chance is the same way. With his broad shoulders and long arms, he can really have an impact on our offensive line.”

Kerbyson also mentioned rising sophomores Brett Kendrick and Coleman Thomas as guys he thinks “are ready to step up.”

Initial thoughts on DeBord: Kerbyson and Jackson were both asked their initial thoughts on new offensive coordinator Mike DeBord and if he had been helping much on the offensive line.

Jackson: “Very smart guy. Very intelligent coordinator and he understands what he’s doing and knows how to communicate it very well…He talks to everybody a lot, Coach DeBo has been helping us out and says we can come in his office anytime, and he’s a very approachable guy, a very likeable guy, like I said.”

Kerbyson: “He’s a really cool guy. When I heard him coming in and I knew he was a little bit older than most of our coaches, I thought stickler, you know, hard-nosed kind of guy, but he’s really cool with us and he likes to joke around, but be serious at the same time. And he’s not trying to change so much of our stuff, which is really great.

“It puts an extra eye on us. Coaching, you have to be able to take it, and if you have two guys coaching you instead of just one with Coach (Mahoney), then it’s all the better and with his offensive line background he realizes certain plays will work better than others with the guys he has, which is great.”

Other quotes:

Kerbyson on how the offseason is going: “It’s going great. We’re getting more molded into our positions and being able to stay in one spot, which is going to be nice. We’re a lot more confident this year than last year, just having a whole year under our belt, all of us coming back and guys are ready to step up…Last year, when we went through these workouts, we had up and down days with lifting and running, we’d be good one day and bad another, but this year we’ve only had one bad day. And it really just shows how much of a difference one year can make with these freshmen and these other guys. It really is a great offseason we’re having.”

Kerbyson on goals for the offensive line: “We haven’t gone that far in depth, but if I can remember correctly when Ja’Wuan (James) and all those guys first started, they gave up around 50 (sacks) and the next year they gave up eight, so we’re hoping for that.”


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