August 12, 2009

Howard opens up about the line and GT's future

One of the cornerstones of the Georgia Tech offensive line is senior guard Cord Howard. Howard was selected a second team All-ACC player last year and he thinks the 2009 football team will build upon the successful template head coach Paul Johnson brought with him from Navy. Jacketsonline talked to Howard about expectations and the new look the offense has in fall camp.

How does the offense look compared to last year?

"As a lot of people have seen by now we have a large variety of plays and people will see different people in different roles. Coach Johnson feels like we have everybody set in place now, so it is time to open up the offense. There have been some oohs and aahs during our practices already. The passing game will be a lot better this year because we have a strong running game. All of our plays build off one another and the guards pretty have the same base function in every play. We have pretty much the same blocking scheme, but we use a lot of trapping and a lot of tricks."

What is it like to have depth on the offensive line?

"It is real competitive right now even though people kind of know the roles are solidified. The backups still have that inner motor and I know that someone behind me is just as good, so that keeps it going. You also have to help the younger guys catch on because we have depth, but all the depth is young. We really do not have any experienced guys from last year to provide depth. We have starting roles and backups and all the younger guys will be playing a bigger role and they are pretty much maturing. Everyday I see something new coming out of them. Even the starters like myself have a lot to learn too and we have matured a lot from last year."

Who have you been mentoring?

"Nick McRae and Antonio Foster are guys I have been mentoring. I see both of them as young good players with different backgrounds. I see all the things they can learn. They want to learn the plays and I want to point them in the right direction. I want to lead by example."

Are you excited about the position aura around the team right now?

"Yeah, it is a big thing now with these expectations. I think we have played out the norm and there has not been a lot expected from Georgia Tech in the preseason the last few years. Now with higher expectations, it pumps us up and we push one another everyday to basically take on the challenge. A lot of teams are highly talked about, but it is about what you do during the season and how you handle yourself during the season. That is what we are worrying about right now."

What is your goal for this season?

"My goal is to change the line of scrimmage on every play. On every play, I am responsible for a gap or for a player. I know if they are running behind me or running to another side I want to change the line of scrimmage every time. I want to also give backside pass protection for the quarterback. Doing all of that will allow everything to take care of itself. Those are my personal goals. I want to be better than I was last year."

Do you care at all about preseason ranking or where experts project you?

"No, we see them though. I see them sometimes at the bottom of the screen scrolling and I try to keep going. Basically, after the first snap of the Jacksonville State game last season will be forgotten. After the first week of games, the preseason rankings are scrambled and off the board. It all depends on how you feel about it. Sometimes it will pump you up. You are never as good as you think you are. We do not want anybody thinking we are finally in there as a top 25 team. We do not get that every year and we do not want anybody getting a big head about it. We appreciate that people are noticing us, but the best is yet to come."

Is there a huge difference between where you are now and where you were as an offensive line at the end of last season?

"I think more people have bought into the system and they are more eager to learn and work hard. The positive attitudes are just flowing all around us and in the locker room. I definitely see something good coming and I think we will do something special this year, but it all starts right now during this time and we will see where it goes."

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