Offensive Line Coach Hal Hunter -- May 8, 2019
Q: Everyone is talking about right tackle. Are you set with Chad there? Is George going to push him? Is there going to be a signing?
A: I don't really know what's going to transpire from here on out. I know the people we have signed right now are under contract. So right now, my plan is for George (Asafo-Adjei) to line up at second right tackle when he comes back and go from there. The one thing that we talked about and we talked about in our room all the time is the best players are going to play. Who are the best players? They are the players that play the best. I've had the experience of having veteran players play. I've seen a couple different places. I go back to San Diego when Marcus McNeill started for me and was All Pro his rookie year. Jonotthan Harrison started for me as a rookie at center at Indianapolis. Louis Vasquez started for me as a rookie at right guard in San Diego. What I'm saying, is that just because you're a veteran player, a rookie, a second year player, if you are the best player at that position at any time, we owe it to the organization and the team for you to be in that line up. We all compete. We know and understand that. Right now, Chad (Wheeler) is starting off at right tackle and it is up to him to hold that position. It is up to everyone else to beat him out. I have told everyone, it is my job to make you the best player you can possibly be and then it is my job to get him to beat you out. If you coach the guys technically and schematically, the ultimate thing that you want them to do is for them to be able to go out there themselves and be able to determine who is going to play. We all sit there and watch the same tape. Whoever the best player is should play. That could only be in terms of the best player in that group everyday.
Q: How do you feel going into this year?
A: I feel good. I think we are ahead of last year because we are a year into the system. They understand the fundamentals and the system more. It is not just five guys, it is who you are playing next to. Nate (Solder) and Will (Hernandez) are starting to get much more in sync than they were last year. Will is adjusting to the speed of the game. You come in and I donít care where you play, the speed of the game is fast. They have adjusted to that. We are back with two quality centers competing. Pio (Halapio) is back in the lineup so he and Spencer (Pulley) will compete at that one. You have to love Zeitler. He is a tough, hard nose guy. I have seen him play. I watched him play when he was in Cincinnatiís offense. He is a good football player. He brings a real toughness. He is all business. Just be careful when you shake his hand.
Q: What did you see in George when you drafted him?
A: My son works at Kentucky. He works in the football office down there. We found out from the inside out Ė he talked about what a quality guy he was. He was probably the most respected guy on the offensive side of the ball. He talked about how he competed with Josh Allen on a day-to-day basis. He talked about his character, work ethic and his toughness. All of those things peaked interest. You watch him on tape and see that he has a lot of athleticism and power. He has a lot of toughness and plays in the best football conference in the country. We have some technical work to do. He is a rookie and you have to tell him to do something once and he goes on and does it right the next time. He picked up the offense much quicker than I thought he was going to. When you compare our offense to their offense, we have a lot more volume to it with a lot of the things that we were doing. We need to continue to work with him technically to get him up to speed but you have to like everything about him. When you read him, that is one of the first things that I found out. He had committed to Kentucky early and is a man of his word. When all those other schools came in like Alabama, that is legit. Those people tried to come in and recruit him. He gave Kentucky his word and didnít go anywhere. He has some developmental potential.
Q: Does Pio have a way to go still?
A: He made good progress during camp and great progress during the preseason. The way he was playing in the beginning of the Dallas game, that was shocking. He was playing really well. When you sit out all that time, you get so far behind physically and technically. Now he is back in the swing of things and he looks good. He is only scratching the surface. He is smart, tough and strong. He has athleticism and needs to continue to play at the position.
Q: As a group, how does Zeitlerís skillset affect the group?
A: His attention to detail. It is a lot like Nate. Nate Soldierís attention to detail, he put so much pressure on Will Hernandez to play because his play was tied into Will. It is the same thing with Zeitler. He is very demanding of guys around him in a positive way. You demand in yourself what you demand in others. I love that about him. I love everything about him, his personality and what he brings. He is so fun to coach.