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The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

June 19, 2009 at 3:46 PM

Q-and-A with Dan Cozzetto

Had a chance a week or so ago to talk with UW offensive line coach Dan Cozzetto and among the things we discussed was the off-season conditioning program. his assessment of some of his players as well as just some general thoughts on his overall philosophy.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about the off-season conditioning program and what your goals are for your players?
A: It’s a seven-week program. I guess in the past there hasn’t been a lot of players staying here. We we continue to work on the big three — benching, cleaning and squatting. A lot of them changed their body types tremendously right now. Ivan (strength coach Ivan Lewis) has done a great job with them, and then we are running. We’ve got some other guys who need to take maybe 10 more pounds off. And we continue to work on fundamentals. They will have a busy summer in front of them. When they are not going to school they will be in that weight room.
Q: And the conditioning is stuff they can do with the strength coaches because you guys can’t really have much contact with them, right?
A: It’s with our strength coaches, yeah. But our strength coaches know in each area what condition we want our guys and what we want them to look like. And I’m sitting down with each player I have and giving him an evaluation from the time I got here through spring ball and where I think they need to be (heading into the season) and asking the same tough questions I ask them when I am recruiting them. Just going back and making sure they understand where they need to be.
Q: It’s well-documented that the skill position guys do voluntary 7-on-7 drills during the summer. What do the linemen do?
A: They go one-on-one with the defensive line (no pads). And they have all the individual tapes they look at that I want as far as position specific stuff, whether it’s center-line training, which involves foot movement, or punching (using the hands) we isolate on a certain skill.
Q: Looking back at the spring, how do you feel about the progress of the line?
A: I think they are playing harder. I think they have increased their intensity. I think we got better playing one snap at a time and not belaboring on a play that didn’t go right. Say a guy jumped offsides and then all the sudden we have an assignment error the next snap. That’s more of a mental conditioning thing. But I think they are trying to do exactly what we asked them to do. They are becoming better students of the game and are practicing faster because we are demanding that. Kids are going to respond to what you coach. If you coach fast and coach hard, they are going to respond to that. Some will, and the ones that do, you are going to play with. The ones that don’t, you either figure it out or go somewhere else.
Q: The center position seemed pretty intriguing in the spring with Ryan Tolar and Mykenna Ikehara alternating. Can you assess that position?
A: If we played tomorrow, Ryan would be the guy at center. But I have to cultivate guys at different positions because there is not a lot of depth, so I am trying to find seven guys right now that can play multiple positions so that if we do get in a situation where somebody goes down we can flip over, much like Drew Schaefer has got to learn left tackle and Ben Ossai has to learn guard and tackle. We have to be position flexible. And that’s real critical at that center position. Mykenna needs to get a little bit bigger, and he will develop the more that they lift. The more lifting, the more they will put on good weight and be where they are supposed to be. We are definitely going to be better runners, more athletic and play faster.
Q: Can you talk more about finding those seven players?
A: Skyler (Fancher) hurt us when he got hurt (he broke his lower left leg about midway through the spring). He really needed to finish out spring ball that last couple of weeks, so he really has to have a good summer. He could fill up that seventh spot (he was a backup tackle at the time of his injury). And we might make some more changes. Coach Sark (Steve Sarkisian) has talked about making more changes, bringing another defensive linemen over just to fill up that need. What you would like to get is two-deep and start playing kids like they used to do here years ago where you get the young guys some time. That’s our main objective right now. But right now, it is what it is and we’ve got to get seven guys ready to play and if we could find eight that would be even better.
Q: What did you think of the progress of Senio Kelemete, who moved from defense and worked as a starting guard throughout the spring?
A: He’s athletic, he’s tough, it means a lot to him. He went through some ups and sowns where he wasn’t feeling well. He was going to cruise. Well, we are not going to cruise. You don’t come out here and not feel well. Once you step on that field, you get ready to practice. It’s not a feel-good game. But he’s growing up, and that’s just part of the maturation. There are a lot of young guys playing, a lot of young guys switching positions, and I think they understand what we need to get done here.
Q: Finally, can you also talk a little bit about Schaefer? He was installed as a starter at right tackle the first day of spring and held the job all the way through.
A: But it’s like I told Drew — ‘you’ve got to get bigger, got to get stronger, more power.’ And he has. If you look at it, he was 270 when he entered spring and right now he’s 280, 285, and his strength gains have increased tremendously in the short time we’ve been lifting after spring ball. He’s a better squatter, a better bench presser and cleaner. Looking around, we had very few guys who can bench 400 or squat 500 plus, or clean 300. That’s kind of the norm with football. And the bottom line is football is a power game. Sometimes teams have gone to this high-intensity website stuff. You look at training now, it’s going back to the big three (bench, squat, clean). That’s what it’s all about.

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