April 26, 2007
View Spring Game Live On accselect.com
Offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus and the Boston College football team will play in the annual Jay McGillis Spring Game at 1 p.m. on Saturday in Alumni Stadium. Last season, Cherilus paved the way for seven 100-yard rushing games and a collective 1,424 rushing yards by L.V. Whitworth and Andre Callender. The Somerville, Mass. resident has started all 37 games of his collegiate career at right tackle.
Can you give us a general overview of how spring practices have been going - for you and the team?
It's been going well. We have a new staff, a new offense and everything. We've been doing everything possible to try to pick up the new offense. We've had extra meetings, extra walk-throughs, extra everything. The team's been doing a good job so far of working extra hard.
Coach Jagodzinski brought the zone-blocking scheme with him. You're an offensive lineman who has to learn and master this new system. Can you explain what the zone-blocking system is?
It's basically just what it sounds like. Say I'm working with you - you have a zone, I have a zone, or both of us have the same zone. If we do what we're supposed to do, it'll leave it up to the backs to make the right cut and everything. Sometimes later on in the block, one of us has to get off and pick up a linebacker, safety, or cornerback. It's not the easiest system. There are some techniques that we have to pick up and get a good feel for. Once we do that, I'll think we'll be really good at it
How big an adjustment is the new system? How hard has it been to learn?
It's not tough, but we're just used to doing things the old way, with more one-on-one blocking and muscling a guy out of the gap. It's been tough because we're still trying to learn the playbook. We're still trying to do things the old way, so it's a little tough right now, but I can see us being really good at it come camp (in August).
It's been noted that you moved from the right side of the line to the left side. Most people don't understand why there's any difference, especially for an experienced lineman like you. So, please explain the adjustments you've had to make and how hard it has been.
I've been playing on the right side my whole life and I was asked to play on the left side. It's a great opportunity to help myself and help my teammates, especially. It's one of the biggest positions on the field because you have to block our quarterback's blindside because he's right-handed. It puts a little bit more pressure on you when you have a one-on-one block because you can't let anybody go by you. The quarterback is behind you and he has confidence that you'll do your part because he's going to do his part. It's a little tough because I've been doing things with my right hand and now I have to put my left hand down, do left kick steps, left everything. It's a little bit of a challenge, but once again we're talking about football and there isn't a thing you do in football that isn't going to challenge you. I plan on welcoming the challenge and doing the best that I can at it because I think at the end of the day it's just going to be for the best of the team.
You protect quarterback Matt Ryan. Talk about Matt, the qualities you see in him and his importance to the team.
He brings a lot of emotion to the team. He's very confident. I think he knows he's one of the best in the ACC and he's playing like it. He's a true captain, a true leader. If you don't do what you're supposed to do, he'll get in your face. But when you do the right block, he'll be the first one to jump on top of you and give you a hug. He's a great friend, a great teammate who I love to play with. I said this last year and I still believe strongly that with #12 in the back, we aren't afraid of anybody. He's a great leader. He played the whole season last year with a broken foot and look where he took us. Just think if he hadn't had a broken foot. I'm not trying to give excuses for anyone because I know Matt as a person and he would never say anything like that, but I know that things could have been a lot better if he could have moved around in the pocket a lot more. He's one of the best competitors I've ever seen in my life, the way he brings it day in and day out. Knowing what he had to go through last season, hats off to him.
You've been opening holes for three running backs - Andre Callendar, L.V. Whitworth and A.J. Brooks - for a couple of years now. Is there any difference in what you do depending on who's behind you? Or is it the running back's job to make the read/make any adjustment?
It doesn't matter who we have behind us. I don't really look back there to see who's behind us. They just give us the play and we try to execute it. It doesn't matter if it's L.V., Andre, A.J., or even Jeff Smith. Our job is to block the best we can, try to make a hole if we have to, stretch the guy, and do whatever for our running back. In this new offense, it's more like you go and do your job and the running back will make the extra cut, will do his part. Say I have to stretch the guy, stay in my gap, do what I'm supposed to do, if we all do what we're supposed to do, it'll be so much easier on the running back It's not like they have one way they have to go and even if it's not there they have to force it. We'll give them one, two, three, four options - if option one's not there, go to two, if option two's not there, go to three. When we do our part, we can make life a lot easier for them.
The offensive line lost two outstanding linemen in Josh Beekman and James Marten. How hard is it to replace such outstanding players? And, what are realistic goals for the offensive line this season without these two?
I wouldn't say that we're going to try to replace those guys. They were two special guys. I played next to Beekman for three years and he was somebody special. James was my fellow offensive tackle. We've done a lot of things together. His work ethic and everything, it was great to have him around and be a leader to all of us. I don't think it's a good way to try and replace those guys, but we also have some young players who have seen the opportunities to step it up this spring and grab a spot to help us out. We have Pat Sheil, Matt Tennant, and I came here with four other great offensive lineman - Tom Anevski, Kevin Sheridan, Ryan Poles, and Ty Hall. We're all working hard to make this the best line in the ACC. We have a great tradition here and our goal is to keep it going. It doesn't matter who leaves and who's coming in, every year the goal is the same.
There are a few less-experienced players who must now step in and step up this fall. Can you mention some of these players and give us a quick note on each?
Matt Tennant brings a lot of emotion to the line, he's a tough kid, very fast, very quick, and he's a fighter. Pat Sheil has great feet, he works his hands very well, he's a technician. Carlos Huggins, a big bear, he's moving well, himself. Clif Ramsey was doing really well until he got hurt. Clif's another big body who's very strong, can use his feet when he's asked to and can use his muscles to move a person out of the hole. Each one of them brings something to the table. We have a great coaching staff and at the end of the day I think whomever they pick to replace those two guys that we lost won't be anything bad. It's just going to tell you how challenging it can be to play first-team offensive line at BC.
In practice, have you in the past or do you now regularly go head-to-head with anyone? If so, do you develop a bit of a rivalry with each other?
In spring practice, there's a lot of competition out there between us, the offense and the defense. We go against those guys every day. They know what we do and we know what they do, so there's no secret. It's just straight up in the trenches, you just go at it. We take a lot of pride in what we do. I think our defense is going to be one of the best in the ACC this year and when those guys come out there they have no pity, no mercy. They're going to bring it all against us. They do a lot of trash talking, but we leave that up to them. Our goal is to go out there and beat them up too, make each other better. There are a lot of competitions. We'll go out there, we'll play hard, we'll give each other a good challenge, but at the end of the day there are no hard feelings, it's just football. We love each other, we care about each other, so it's just great competition.
Can you tell us one thing or one player on each side of the ball that has surprised you this spring?
On offense, I like Rich Gunnell. He's been working hard and we can see it already in spring practice. On defense, they have a few young guys stepping it up. The true freshman Roderick Rollins, he looks good at cornerback. Also, Alex Albright, he's great kid with a lot of talent, great speed, great moves. When he learns how to put it all together, I think he has a chance to become a good player here.
Give us your thoughts on head coach Jeff Jagodzinski.
He's out there as one of us. He comes over to the o-line practice, he adds his two cents, he tells us how we can be better. He coaches us when we need to be coached and he kicks us in the butt when we need a nice kick. He's not a screamer, he's a teacher. He's here to teach. He's always there with us. We can see where he's trying to go with this team. All of us as a team plan on following his leadership the best we can to make this thing possible and to hopefully make it to the next level, which is the ACC Championship.
What are your plans for the summer - to prepare for next season and also to relax a bit?
I'm a senior and we have a lot of senior events going on. In the next few weeks I plan on finishing up the school year strongly, get my degree, go home, and relax a little bit. Then I'll go away with my family, enjoy the little time off and then come back here for summer workout, take classes in the summer and also try to get a job.
Interview conducted by Geoffrey Kehlmann