Inside Carolina: Based on what you've seen up to now, is the line about where you expect them to be coming out of spring?
Coach Hunter: Yeah, they're about where I expected them to be. They are still a long way away from where they need to be. I mean, the thing about the offensive line over the summer is that they don't get a chance to practice their technique like the receivers and the running backs and defensive backs that can actually work on their skill. They can work on strength and conditioning, but their technique development goes on hold. And, when you're not practicing something, it actually takes a couple of steps backward. So, we need to make up a little bit of ground. After nine practices, we are probably close to where we were at the end of spring. So, we still have a ways to go.
Inside Carolina: There was some talk of moving Skip Seagraves to right tackle instead of left. I see he's still at left tackle. Is that where he's going to stay?
Coach Hunter: For right now, yes. Only because the problem with offensive line play is that you have two starters and then when somebody needs to be replaced or goes down and needs a break, do you put his back-up in or do you put the next best available player in? And the key is to always put the next best available player in. Secondly, we had so much invested in all that work at left tackle, we need to keep him at left tackle. But, we always have to have the next best guy available to go in at left tackle.
Inside Carolina: Coach Bunting said that you had told him that, of all the true freshmen, Chris Woods was probably the most ready to go. Do you see any of those guys actually playing this year, or do you want redshirt them all?
Coach Hunter: Oh, I don't know. It's a long time and you really don't have to make that decision until the first or second game. He seems to be the more advanced only because (1) he was in the best condition, so he was able to work on his technique the most and not just survive, and (2) he stayed injury-clean through the first couple of days, which helped him to get advanced a little bit. But, they are really just learning the basics. They are in baby steps right now. So, I mean, I not sure at this point they're ready to go into the game. They know it and I know it. So, only time will tell on those guys.
Inside Carolina: You had talked about putting your best back-up in when one of the starters went out. At the guard position, would that be Marcus Wilson?
Coach Hunter: Well, there's a lot of guys that are in there. You've got three that are competing for playing time inside. You've got Arthur Smith, Marcus Wilson and Steven Bell. From those three, it's going to be the next guy in the game at one of those inside three positions. If it gets to the point where maybe the next best guy, if Jonas Seawright is the next best guy, he can't play guard. He may step up to tackle and you move another tackle inside. So, that's the type of mentality you have to have. I mean, if my three best linemen are tackles, I can move one into guard. So, all those guys have to be able to move one position in. You have to be able to play center, right guard, right guard or right tackle. You have to be able to play left tackle. You always have a secondary position that you learn, never more than two positions. Steven Bell is center and working at left guard. Marcus Wilson is right guard working at center. You're always trying to get cross-trained between two positions. Then, the freshmen you just train at one position. But, you always have to be able to put the next best guy in the game. You hate to send a guy in there and have your next best guy stand on the sideline only because you haven't practiced a combination to get him in there.
Inside Carolina: You briefly mentioned strength and conditioning. How did the offensive linemen report in terms of that?
Coach Hunter: My guys, they all passed the conditioning test. They all reported in fairly good shape. They were strong. They were well-conditioned. I think they were ready to go. I was pleased with how Jeff Connors got them ready to go. I think he did a great job with them.
Inside Carolina: How would you compare where this group is compared to what you saw from them on tape from last year?
Coach Hunter: That's hard to say. It's been so long ago. All I can say is we're not close to where we need to be to have the type of season that we want to have. We still have a ways to go. We have the talent, I think, to get there. But, our success will be more up to them than it is to me. I only know one way to coach. The more they develop and the more focused they are, the better they'll be. I think they're pretty focused right now. It's just a lot of work to do right now.
Inside Carolina: Where do you think their weakness is? Run blocking or pass protection?
Coach Hunter: I think right now their weaknesses are conceptual. I don't think they really understand the entire offense and how, in terms of the running game, how everything ties in. You have to understand defense and the running backs to understand a running game. I think they've got blinders on. They're too tunnel-visioned. They may have learned their particular assignment, but not how their assignment – they don't understand how the defense is trying to stop the play. How the defense is going to try and stop the play depends how they're going to have to block it to be successful. If you don't know what the running back is going to do, how can you block for the running back? I think they've got to be more conceptual and I think that's hindering them a little bit. Run block, pass block. Neither side is right where we need them to be yet.
They're making progress, but they're not where they need to be. I don't know if we have any strengths or any weaknesses right now. The only strength that we have is probably that we've got great attitude. I think that having a great attitude will take us where we need to go.