Offensive Line Coach Hal Hunter -- August 1, 2019
Q: (inaudible) first regular season game? Why?
A: Every minute is valuable, so Iím trying to use every minute theyíre asleep to get something done.
Q: When you look at your offensive line this year, is it deeper? What do you think of it?
A: First off, I think itís got a different makeup, mentally. When you add two veteran players like Mike Remmers and Kevin Zeitler, who are two serious guys whoíve got a lot of NFL snaps, they are a proís pro, they are tough, smart. All of a sudden youíve added a lot to your group, so youíve got some veteran players there, you get Jon Halapio back who brings a real toughness about him, youíve got Spencer Pulley still in the mix, because I still consider him as starting caliber, and of course youíve got Nate (Solder) on the left side who brings a lot to the group and Will (Hernandez) will be a second-year older, so you hope that sophomore year, youíd expect a lot of improvement. I just think thereís a more serious focus, I would say more of an old-school approach, and thatís what those players bring. Weíve got some good young players coming up, so thereís a little bit of competition in there. Thereís a real focused, determined, work ethic going on right now.
Q: Where do you see the center position at right now?
A: Iíd say right now itís fighting out. Iím trying to give Spencer (Pulley) at least two groups with the one. Pio (Jon Halapio) starts off with the first group, you guys have all seen, but Iím trying to get Spencer in there working with that first group. They are going to battle it out, and we wonít make any decisionsó practice is practice, so weíll do all of the evaluations in the preseason games and probably through those first three, and then we make our decision and let the best man go out there. Theyíre both good players, they are both a little bit different type of a player. Spencer is a real mentally savvy player, heís a good technician, knows how to, since heís a little bit lighter, use his body technique to get things done. He was really productive for us in the last half of the season. Pio was just starting to hit his stride when he got hurt last year. Heís tough, heís strong, heís got a lot of power in everything, heís got a little bit different type game, both within themselves, can fit within our scheme. Coach them both and let the best man win. Our goal is, and we tell them every day, Ďweíre going to coach every one of you guys to be the best player you can be, then you go on the field and you determine who the starter is going to be.Ēí That makes it easy. My job is to make Pio the best player he can be, and my job is to get Spencer to beat him. Thatís kind of how I look at it.
Q: Is Jon (Halapio) back to where he was?
A: I donít know, we wonít be able to tell that. He looks pretty good right now and he doesnít seem to have any issues, but weíll wait to see how he performs in preseason games, when itís real.
Q: Outside of the top seven including Spencer (Pulley) and Chad (Wheeler), have any of the other guys impressed you so far?
A: Yeah, there have been some other guys who have been playing pretty good. Nick Gates, he was actually playing really good last year, and he played at Nebraska then he got that foot injury. He was on IR, then he came back and was on practice squad, then he was on IR the whole year. Heís come back, and he really stepped up once he put the pads on. Heís big, strong, tough, smart, and I see why he played at Nebraska, heís a Nebraska-type player, so heís done a pretty good job. There are a lot of guys who have done some good things with that second group. Brain Mihalik, who was our third tackle last year, heís doing some good things, heís got good length to be playing left tackle. Heís been playing some in the first group when weíve been spelling Nate a little bit, heís done a good job. Everybody has provided something. Evan Brown is still fighting in there. Heís been a little bit out of position because again, heís kind of the third center who weíve been working some at second guard, so some of those guys have really come along. It will be a real battle for some of those last spots on the roster.
Q: Do you consider continuity to be the number one critical element for an offensive line to be successful?
A: It is most definitely, because you have to know who you are working with. You have to figure out who your starting five are going to be and you have to figure out right way, because itís not five guys playing, itís one group, one unit. The continuity is probably the most fundamental of any group on the entire line.
Q: What are your impressions of James OíHagan so far?
A: Heís strong, heís tough, heís smart. He reminds me a lot of Evan Brown, they are the same type of player. Heís a little bit of a smaller player, but it helps him with leverage. Heís tough, I really like him, I think he is a quality player who is going to be really fighting for a roster spot.
Q: Remmers and Solder have played in big games, what does that bring when you are forming the face or the character of your O-line?
A: It brings a professionalism, some confidence, guys that have been there before that you know the game is not too big for them. They bring along other guys that havenít been there. If you havenít been in playoff games, you donít understand playoff football. Itís a different game. Guys that have been in that type of situation have a confidence, a savvy, they bring a wealth of knowledge , they just bring a lot to the room. Itís really important.
Q: For a guy like Will, is that valuable?
A: Exactly, all of the sudden you have some guys who have hundreds of NFL snaps under their belts, thousands of NFL snaps under their belts. It makes a huge difference.
Q: You talk about the attitude, the seriousness of the line, how much of that is attributed to Zeitler?
A: A lot. This is year number 38 for me and he is the most serious, focused, all-about-football guy I have ever been around. I thought it was Kris Dielman before, but he takes it up a notch. You love being around a guy like that. I worry about him wearing himself out mentally because he is so focused and so in tune. I think it starts to get contagious with the other guys. Heís a no-nonsense guy, every day he is a man on a mission, his performance is really important to him. You can see itís kind of working through the room a little bit. He brings something really different, Iím excited to have him.
Q: How does Saquon like to be blocked up and how does that affect the personnel you bring?
A: A lot of the stuff we do fits what he does and also what the defense does. You have to adjust because every defense is different. The number one element in the running game is the runner, so you have to fit what you do to his skillset. He can do a lot of things, he can run inside, outside, strong. Thereís certain things he does best. We have to make sure we can feature him to fit the scheme to fit what he does best. Thatís more important than anything.
Q: A guy like Remmers, what has he brought to the room?
A: I think what he brings to the room is also what he brings to the field. In the room he is a low key guy. Heís on point, heís smart. You talk about a guy who turns a switch on. When heís on the field, heís a tough, aggressive, nasty guy on the field, heís a different type guy. I think he brings a cerebral player to the room and a tough, aggressive guy on the field.
Q: Does he look healthy to you?
A: He looks pretty healthy. A couple guys did a couple of bull rushes on him the other day and he anchored down on them. He looks good to me, heís been tested more than once and he looks good.
Q: How do he and Zeitlerís personalities mix?
A: Theyíre good, theyíre both quiet and get it done, but theyíre different off the field. Remmers is little bit more laid back, like me.