MSU CO-OC Jim Bollman Talks OL, TE, Mark Staten and More As Spring Football Wraps Up!

They wanna do it. So I’ve been through it enough, joining new places, with new guys and letting them work some things out.

Q: Can you talk about where Evan Jones has gotten better since spring has started?

A: Overall, it’s hard for me to put one specific item. Everybody’s trying to do a little bit better job on the blocking with their hands and footwork and a little bit quicker. Our defense is doing pretty good. It’s certainly a challenge and I think he’s improving in that regard. All these guys are pretty good route runners. It’s just a continuation of learning day by day, mastering a couple of routes where you need to make some adjustments and things like that…just seeing it more and more. As far as one real specific area, it’s hard for me to put a finger on I would say. He’s a guy that’s got a chance to be a big guy now. I mean, he’s a pretty good sized guy. He’s probably 250 or a little over as it is right now, and he’s in his first year. So as he keeps getting bigger and stronger, he could be a factor.

Q: Josiah Price, a guy that still needs to get bigger, just as a lot of the young guys.

A: Yeah, but he has really good movement. I think he has exceptional movement. As he’s gotten bigger he’s kept that. He’s really a different receiver. And then again, learning how to do a lot of blocking that he didn’t have much experience at on in high school at all. So it’s good.

Q: I know you’re working with the tackles a little bit also. What are your thoughts about Donavon Clark? He’s moved out there a little bit and has had some changes…

A: He’s doing very well. He has a really good quickness and power. He’s a guy…he’s gonna be a big factor. No question. He had a pretty good scrimmage last Saturday and caught everybody’s eye. He’ll certainly be a factor for us up front.

Q: Coach, if you would please, could you talk a little bit about Fou Fonoti? What makes him a good player? What do you like about him?

A: Well, he’s a hard worker. He really is a great young man to be around and he really works hard. Really wants to be good, really has an attitude of wanting to learn. And even though he has a lot of experience… He has the ability to check himself and understand what he’s doing, to help himself to try to improve. I think that’ll help him improve more and more as he goes. When we talk about some things he’ll come back right away and say, I need to do this, I need to do that. That’s a whole lot better than somebody that’s right off the cuff and they don’t really grasp or understanding what you’re talking about. So he’s doing good.

Q: Any time there’s a change, Coach, in leadership or a little bit of an adjustment, some guys can buck it, some guys can fight it, some guys can embrace it. Your guys seem to love what you’re bringing to the table. Does it make it more enjoyable? (Jim) Tressel told me the other day in my show that using the term Coach about you probably isn’t as fair. You’re more of a teacher. Is that more fun to teach people that are like, Okay come on. Sic it to us, we want all you can give us.

A: Naturally, it’s more fun. These guys have all been that way. They’re a joy to be around. They’re a lot of fun to be around. No matter what you’re doing…doesn’t matter if you’re at training table with them, spending time sitting down, they’re really good guys to spend time with. It’s fun to get to know them. I’m not very far along in that process but it’s been a lot of fun to get to know them.

Q: Last year they struggled with several injuries on the offensive line. Jack Allen is out for the spring. Mark told us the other day at the scrimmage that 3 starters were out. Is durability a concern? Or if it’s not, how do you fix it?

A: No, I don’t think it’s a concern. There’s sometimes that those things just happen. I’ve been through those situations where those things happen. You can’t do a lot about it. You try to be prepared. It always causes you to do some shuffling, guys from guard to tackle, tackle to guard, whatever the necessity is. It can make you stronger in the long run because of people getting some backgrounds that they may not have normally gotten. So hopefully that situation will come about for us.

Q: Will you talk about Skyler Burkland? I know he’s banged up a little bit, but from what you’ve been able to work with him. That’s a guy that Mark’s really high on because he’s got all the tools. What do you have there to work with?

A: That’s a big, powerful young man who’s got some good quickness and has great assets and really good potential. You stand next to him, you know he’s a big guy. He has really good movement. I’ve been watching him a little bit on film from last year, he had some exceptional moments.

Q: Benny McGowan is a young player, came in here very highly touted as a recruit. Maybe a year or two, I don’t know. Where do you see him at?

A: It’s hard to put a timetable on some of these young guys. But there’s quite a few of them that have a lot of potential. When I think back on different times that guys were in their first spring learning and learning and learning. And then all of the sudden a light will go on. And even maybe by the time they come back for summer, you can see a big difference. I can’t put that timetable on anybody, but I’ve seen it happen before and I’d be ready if it happened again.

Q: Interesting question that I wanted to ask you about spring. A lot of times the fans, media will say, Who’s shining? Who’s looking good? Sometimes you don’t know the benefits of spring until you get to fall camp because this is more of a classroom. Is that fair?

A: That’s very fair. This not a season. This is a preparation for a season. There’s different ways to think about this. There’s 15 practices now, there’s 29 more in the fall, so that’s 44 practices. So where do you make some final decisions about what’s gonna happen? It’s certainly not after the first 15. It gives us some pretty good ideas about people, about their shortcomings, about what they do very well, about potential that they have. It gives them, especially young guys, it gives them a lot of feedback on what they really need to do to get where they wanna be.

Q: Talking to the guys they tell some very good stories about you already. That you’re able to be very honest, very blunt, you don’t sugarcoat stuff. But it’s not done in an arrogant way. It’s going back to teacher. Is that something you developed over years or is that something that you got from a dad or a coach as a young guy? Or is that something that’s always been there? Because obviously you’ve been a high level coach for a lot of years.

A: It’s hard for me to exactly tell you where that might have arisen. I’m glad to hear that they’re giving you that kind of feedback. Whether they’re just being polite or not… We gotta have fun. If we don’t have fun doing this… It’s hard to learn. It doesn’t matter, when you go back to any class that you ever had. The one that you had the most fun in or the most favorite ones or were most productive for you learning, were ones you probably enjoyed the teacher and had a good time with them. Well, it’s the same thing here. We just have a classroom that everybody enjoys being in.

Q: The offensive line struggled, whether it be injury or whatever. It didn’t perform at the level Mark Dantonio wanted last year. But is it safe to say there certainly are the tools and potential for a good, Big 10 offensive line now?

A: You’re talking in generalities, but certainly there are. Certainly there is.

Q: Was it somewhat a seamless transition for you coming in here just because of your relationship with Mark, as opposed to going somewhere like Boston College or anywhere, where you didn’t have all those years of experience like you do with Mark?

A: Certainly, being with Mark makes it, number one, the easiest thing. There’s been a lot of relationships with a lot of the other guys on the staff too. Again I reiterate, being at Boston, absolutely. A lot of guys on the staff, offense and defense, I’ve been with before and haven gotten to know them very well over the years.

Q: Has Mark Staten changed over the years? Any dirt on him?

A: No, no. If I had any I wouldn’t share it. It’s great to be with him. He’s doing well. He’s a fine coach and it’s fun to work with him again.

Q: What about Andrew Gleichert? Is he a guy that’s gonna take that next step?

A: Well, he’s working really hard at it, in spite of that cast that he’s wearing. I think he’s making some good strides, as I said in spite of that. I look forward to him getting that off. Because there’s times he gets handcuffed on some passes that he’s just struggling to catch it. Other than that he’s doing pretty good.

Q: Is that just a preventative thing going back to the broken wrist from last season?

A: I think so. We certainly don’t want to get that nicked right now. It bothered him a little bit real early, the first few days. And then they did some readjusting and he’s really been pretty good since.

Q: What’s the biggest change in this program since Dantonio took over?

A: I know how the program would be with Mark, I know how it would get to in time. Certainly nothing’s surprised me about the way the program is since I’ve been here. It’s about the way I expected it to be. Mark is a symbol of a great bunch of young men, fun to be around, wanna be good. It’s great fun to be with him every day.

About Hondo S. Carpenter Sr.

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Hondo S. Carpenter, Sr. is the founder and publisher of SpartanNation.com and all of the family of services. The idea was birthed when overseas he ran into a Spartan not native to the United States who was wearing his Green and White proudly. He is dedicated to bringing you the latest and greatest information about Michigan State and Detroit Sports News every day. He resides in the Mid Michigan area. Follow Hondo on twitter here: @hondocarpenter.


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