April 15, 2004
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
(This is another in a series of features acquainting you with the University of Wyoming football coaching staff. Today, meet offensive line coach Chad Germer.)
Chad Germer works in an oversized world where everyone has your back, and flamboyance isn't in the vocabulary.
It's the world of the offensive lineman.
Germer, Wyoming's second-year offensive line coach, loves being in that world. "I'm where I want to be," says the native of Three Forks, Mont. "My interests, and my comfort zone are with the big guys."
Offensive linemen have a little different way about them than most athletes. They generally don't say much, and you won't see them being very demonstrative. That's not their nature, and it certainly doesn't fit what they do on a football field.
"No other area of the team relys so much on the guy next to you than does the offensive line," Germer says. "There just aren't any 'I' guys in the offensive line. Each one of them knows that all five have to do the right thing at the same time, or everything breaks down. They have to be on the same page, they have to mesh. Everything starts in the middle with the center, and works to the outside with the tackles. I think that's why offensive linemen are usually a pretty tight group. They hang together, because they have to depend on each other so much."
Germer wants to see his Cowboy group develop more attitude, and become more aggressive. But he knows that comes with confidence. Wyoming's offensive line took its lumps a season ago, Germer's first with the Cowboys. "We did some decent stuff last year," he says. "But we were very young, especially at our tackles, and we didn't have much depth. We were overwhelmed at times.
"But those times have helped us. We are definitely a better unit. Those young guys have grown up a little more, mentally and physically. We are so much better equipped to take on the challenge. Our younger guys are starting to pick up that attitude of being more aggressive, of finishing plays, being there through the whistle.
"Take Chase Johnson, for instance," he continues. "He was a redshirt freshman last season. He had his good days, but he had some bad ones as you would expect. Those experiences have only made him better. Not only is he more mature, but he is now bigger and stronger ( 6-8, 320 pounds). I think he has a chance to make a living at this game one day. Jason Karcher, another sophomore, did a heck of a job for us last year, but we had to play him at tackle. His natural position is guard, and now we can afford toplay him there. He's having a great spring. He's more mature, and over 300 pounds.
"Our veterans, Trenton (Franz, at center) and Isaac (Morales at right guard), are good football players, and good leaders. Trent is so smart and has a great deal of savvy. Plus he's 20 pounds heavier (285). You're just not going to out-wit him. Isaac is in the best shape he's been in since he came here. He's down to 305, and having a great camp. He can do more things for us at the lighter weight.
"I've been really happy with a couple of the young guys. Hunter Richards (6-7, 277) walked on, but he has come in and really done well. He is similar to what Chase was for us last spring. He is big and athletic, but knows he has to get bigger and stronger. He will get there. He's a "thank you" guy. He just basically showed up at our doorstep. He has really placed himself in a good spot. We also have been happy with sophomore Mark Schwarz (6-4, 290). He is playing better, by far, than he has at any other point. Both Richards and Schwarz have placed themselves in a new light with their play this spring."
Add to that group three guys who will figure into the plan when they either return from injury, or arrive in the fall, and there's a tremendous amount of promise associated with the O-line.
Junior guards Drew Severn, (shoulder), and Dan Fisher (knee), who have missed most or all of spring training, and junior college transfer tackle Alan Erving, who will join the team in the fall, give the Cowboys even more promise, not to mention depth.
"We feel really good about having at least eight guys for our five spots," Germer says. "But if some guys get after it, we could have as many as 10 solid guys for those jobs. That would put us in very good shape."
His O-line is becoming more and more what Germer wants to see, and that is a group with outstanding athleticism and aggressiveness. Once considered a football team's last stop for large players, the demands and qualifications for offensive linemen these days have changed, especially in Germer's mind.
"We are looking for athletes, guys who can move, guys who can run. We will take a guy who might be a little underweight, if he is athletic. We can get them bigger and stronger, but it's pretty tough to coach athleticism. A guy like Chase (Johnson) is exactly what we look for at tackle, for example. At six-foot, eight, he has a great reach, and that is a huge advantage. He has great feet, and has the frame to put on weight. The interior guys can be a little shorter, but no less athletic.
"We ask all of our linemen to move. From the center out, our schemes demand that these guys pull. They have to be able to run."
Germer knows of what he speaks. As a player at the University of Montana, he was one of the nation's best offensive linemen. A three-year starter for the Griz, he earned All-America honors at center in 1991. By the time his senior season rolled around, he was over 300 pounds. At six-foot, five-inches, he had the frame to carry it. He wasn't always that way, however.
"I grew up right outside of Bozeman (Three Forks)," says Germer. "I was tall and skinny. I didn't weigh 200 pounds when I was a junior in high school. I wasn't even really thinking about playing college football at that time. I thought I would probably play basketball, maybe at an NAIA school. But during my senior year, I began putting on weight, and got up to about 225 pounds. The Griz recruited me to play football, and I was more than happy to accept. Even though I was from the Bozeman area (home of Montana State), and Montana was the big rival, it was an honor for me to receive the opportunity."
After his highly successful collegiate career, Germer received an opportunity in the NFL. He was in camp with Cincinnati, San Francisco, and New England. "The fact was I received my chance, and didn't make it. Lots of guys will say they got shafted, I didn't. I got the opportunity. When it was over, I actually wasn't thinking in terms of a coaching career. I had a degree in marketing, and worked for a television station for three years. Three years of that was enough, and I decided to look into coaching. I went back to Montana as a graduate assistant in 1998, under Mike Dennehey. I was very fortunate because I was there when they hired Joe."
Due in part to his path, Germer has a great deal of appreciation for his graduate assistant, Tony Spencer. A 1996 graduate of Carroll College (Helena, Mont.), Spencer wears many hats for the Cowboys. He primarily works with Germer and the offensive line. "Tony does a great job for us," Germer says, "and he's a big help to me. He also does a great job coordinating our scout teams, giving us an idea of what the opponent will throw at us. He is a very hard worker, and a good football coach."
Germer and his wife, Amy, have two young sons, Nicholas and Alex. Coaching can be hard on a family. "There's no question about that," Germer says. "Coaching takes a lot of time away from them. While the hours are tough, especially with little guys, the family can be involved. I love having them around, and I know the older they get the more they'll enjoy hanging around football, and the players.
"That is one of the great things about Joe. He is as family-oriented as any coach you'll see. He loves having us all get together as a family. Heck, we all live on the same street. His attitude makes it easier."