Feature article about Adrian Klemm

PF = Ponyfans.com

PF Note: “Trivia question: who was the New England Patriots’ first draft pick in the 2000 NFL Draft? Answer: new SMU offensive line coach Adrian Klemm. Sure, the Patriots also grabbed some quarterback from Michigan named Tom Brady that year, but that wasn’t until the sixth round. With no first-round pick, New England used its second-round selection (46th overall) on Klemm. Brady was chosen 156 picks later.

Klemm played two years with the Green Bay Packers after winning three Super Bowl rings in five seasons with the New England Patriots (photo by Packers.com).
Klemm played five seasons with the Patriots, collecting three Super Bowl rings in the process. He then played a couple of seasons with the Green Bay Packers, and signed with the Oakland Raiders in 2007 before retiring because of the cumulative effect of numerous injuries.”

About the year he spent as a volunteer at SMU, Klemm said:
“I came out to visit Coach Jones and some of the coaches, and then I just ended up staying a little longer than I expected. I really enjoyed myself, I enjoyed the environment. I’d been away from football — I hadn’t watched it on TV or anything. In terms of watching NFL games, I don’t watch it the same way as a regular fan. I look at line play and things like that, and it makes it less enjoyable. But when I came here, I was back in the mix — I just really enjoyed it. I was going to come and (be a) G.A. (graduate assistant) this year, and instead I got the opportunity to be the offensive line coach.” (PF)

About how he quickly learned he could trust JJ in the year he played for him, Klemm said:
“He creates such a great work environment. It’s a family atmosphere, and he makes everybody feel really comfortable. You always know where you stand — he’s just a really loyal individual. He hasn’t changed at all. He was just like that when he first came in (to Hawaii). At Hawaii, I had three head coaches, five offensive coordinators and I think offensive line coaches. So when he first came in, he was my third head coach, and I really didn’t buy into it initially, but after a couple of weeks … you can’t help but buy into it. He’s just such a good guy. I really trusted him, and obviously he helped out my career tremendously. I was one of the higher draft picks come out of (Hawaii) recently, and a lot of that is attributed to June, and the system that he brought and the different things that he taught me — how to carry myself, and things of that nature. So I owe a lot to him, in terms of my success.” (PF)

About how he learned a lot from Dennis McKnight during the year that McKnight was a coach in Hawaii while he played there (JJ hired McKnight as part of his first coaching staff at UH)
“Mac (McKnight) was doing what I was doing last year, helping out with the offensive line. We were talking about it two or three weeks ago. I guess, when you’re a kid, you sometimes don’t tell adults how much of an impact they have on some things. He’d talk about certain things he did when he was a player, like when he’d watch film, and on every single play, he’d write down what his opponent would do, with the down and distance, and things like that. That’s something I took from him, and the other tackle took from him … there were four or five of us who went to the NFL from that offensive line, and we all did the same thing, but we just never said anything to him about it.

Then, when it came to lifting — we didn’t have a strong lifting program — and we used to lift with him. You talking about training with the insane — you think he’s wired now? Imagine what he was like 10 years ago. He had the long, flowing hair, the handlebar moustache, he was in great shape. We all emulated things he said he did throughout his career and we watched some film on him. We had a really good offensive line coach, Mike Cavanaugh, who’s the offensive line coach at Oregon State now. Those are the three that had the biggest influence on me before I got to the NFL: June, Mac and Mike.” (PF)

About transitioning from playing to coaching, Klemm said:
“One of my former coaches told me that the biggest transition will be articulating what you want the players to do, because not everybody has the same abilities that you may have, or had, or that you would expect them to have. So you have to articulate in a way that they can understand, and you have to make it clear enough that different people with different skill levels can apply it. It’s one of the things I expect — I expect them to work hard in the things that I ask them to do. Not everyone is going to be the same caliber of player, so I had to learn patience and teaching. That’s my big thing. I’m not a yeller, I don’t get all over guys. My thing is I want to teach, and I want them to rep enough that whether it’s from technique or plays, that it becomes ‘unconscious competence.’” (PF)

About how he won’t change much from what McKnight taught the OL last year, Klemm said:
“Scheme-wise, nothing really changes. That’s pretty much Coach Jones’ deal. There are a number of things that are the same as when I was playing.” (PF)

PF NOte: “Klemm has the benefit of having played in Jones’ system that teaches linemen to block out of a two-point stance in Jones’ pass-heavy offensive attack. His background as a player also gives him the versatility to teach every position across the line, having played four of the five in college and in the NFL.”

About how he played 4 of the OL positions and can teach them all, Klemm said:
“I feel comfortable teaching every position on the line. I played everything except center in New England, and even played all four positions in one game. In Green Bay, I played primarily guard, and played tackle in one game when our left tackle went down. Other than snapping the ball — that’s the only thing that’s really different. Other than snapping the ball, they have a lot of the same responsibilities as the guards.” (PF)

About how he gets game film from his friends in the NFL to try to pick up new techniques or schemes that he can use, Klemm said:
“I still have a lot of friends who are playing now, and ask them for game film,” he said. “Just yesterday, I brought in four films from New England, and (running backs) Coach (Wes) Suan and I sat down and looked at their outside zone scheme — not so much what they do, schematically, but how they go about doing it, technique-wise, and seeing if we want to tweak anything and apply what they do to what we do. So I talk to guys like Coach Cav — or I have another friend who’s coaching in Baltimore — so I can reinforce to the guys that ‘these guys are at the highest level, and they’re doing the same techniques that we’re telling you to do.’” (PF)

About how their OL is young and need to drill until they can just react to situations, Klemm said:
“It’s a young line. The offense, initially, is complicated, but once you grasp it and once you get it down … like I said before, that’s where it becomes ‘unconscious competence,’ where you don’t have to sit there and think — you just react. That’s when everything starts clicking and starts looking real good. It’s one of those things where you keep drilling, and keep repeating things over again, teaching off the film, and once they get it, it will be really clean.” (PF)

About how he played as a Freshman and he will play the best players they have regardless of seniority, Klemm said:
“It’s a mixture of young guys, but we obviously have some young guys who will be competing for spots. But some of these guys can come in and mature, and can possibly help us this year. We just need to get some depth, and they need to push each other, and we’ll get better that way. I played as a freshman. If that’s our best option, and they’re mentally tough enough to handle the rigors of a full season, then I don’t have any problem with putting them in there. I don’t believe in a seniority thing, or anything like that. The best players play.” (PF)

PF Note: “One of Klemm’s strengths as a player was the power of his punching; not coincidentally, that’s an area on which he said the Ponies’ offensive linemen will focus intently.”

About how their OL will be aggressive even while pass blocking, Klemm said:
“My goal for us is reestablishing the line of scrimmage — not that we didn’t before, but as these guys get bigger and stronger and more comfortable in the system, we can take it even further. If we start on the 24-yard line, we’re going to try to move the line of scrimmage to the 26- or 27-yard line — just move the entire line. My philosophy is that there’s nothing passive about our passing game. We’re going to be really aggressive, and just because we’re passing the ball doesn’t mean we can’t take the aggressiveness and physical nature of the running game and apply it to the passing game.” (PF)

Not concerned about the weight of their OL, but more how what type of weight they are carrying, Klemm said:
“I don’t care what their weight is. What I care about is their body composition. I don’t want a bunch of fat slobs. I don’t want extra weight — bad weight. What I prefer, and what I’ve told them that I want, is guys that are leaner, and I’m not so concerned with them being 275 or 265. If a guy like (right tackle) J.T. (Brooks) can be 300, and be lean and be explosive and move his body well, then I’m fine with that.” (PF)

Expecting their OL to be better than last year because of their experience in the system, Klemm said:
“I expect them to perform better than they did last year — not necessarily because of me, but just because they’ve gone through it already, and they’re a year older and stronger. Even though we had a couple of seniors last year (tackles Tommy Poynter and Vincent Chase), it was a very young line — in a way, they were all freshmen, because none of them had blocked in this system before — and Coach McKnight really laid the foundation for what we do. They have a year under their belts, so they’re not being introduced to the offense, so a lot of things they learned last year should carry over, and they can learn from their mistakes. The greatest advantage we have is that they’re not seeing it for the first time. When the live bullets are flying out there, it’s going to be things that they’ve seen.

I’m real big on mental toughness, and I think that with maturity and mental toughness, they’ll get better. We want to go out there and impose our will on every single play, and I think the guys are ready to do that — they’re buying into that. I’m excited to see them when we put pads on. Everyone can look good in shorts, but I’m excited to see them put pads on and see how they perform, and I’m excited about what’s ahead.” (PF)

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