Sept. 1, 2009
Wide receivers coach Bobby Kennedy
On the progress of the wide receiver group: Like I always say at this point in the season, we’re a work in progress. We’re not a finished product, but I’m really pleased. The guys have come to practice every day and worked hard. I’m excited to see what we do as a group of wide receivers.
On the wide receiver rotation: We usually work to a six-man rotation, and we’re moving in that direction. Like I said, I don’t think we’re a finished product yet, but I’m pleased with what I’ve been seeing out there in practice.
On if the rotation could expand if the team uses more four-wide sets throughout the season: Really it starts with six. It could expand, but I expect six right now, and we’ll see where we go from there as the season goes on.
On freshman Marquise Goodwin: Marquise is a doing good job. Obviously, he’s real fast, and he catches the ball very naturally. That’s what is exciting for me because you do see him snatch the ball. The speed coupled with pretty good hands, he’s by no means a finished product, but I see good improvement out of him. He’s been a pleasant surprise. He was a good high school player, obviously an outstanding track athlete, a world-class track athlete. I see him getting better every day.
On the players playing Quan Cosby’s position from last season: We have four guys that can play in that spot. We’ve got (Jordan) Shipley, James Kirkendoll, Malcolm Williams and Dan Buckner. There are a number of different combinations we can use.
On redshirt freshman DeSean Hales: I think DeSean Hales has had a really good camp. I see him as a guy that’s growing and growing. I think he’ll get better and better as he gets more game experience, but I’ve been really pleased with him. He’s a guy that has speed, he’s got good hands and he’s still getting comfortable in the offense, but I see him making strides every day.
On redshirt freshman Brock Fitzhenry: Brock’s doing a nice job. We’ve played Brock some at the slot, some out at our sub-B position. He’s still a work in progress, but I see positive things out of him. He’s coming.
On the expectations for Jordan Shipley this season: Just like last year with he and Quan (Cosby), we had really good balance and then we had those other guys catch a number of balls. I would say if we could have a balanced group and spread it around, I think that’s what we’d be most happy with. Shipley has been a really productive player here. I see him continuing in that role.
On the group’s consistency: I see us getting better. I haven’t been pleased necessarily with our consistency every practice, but for example, today I thought the guys came out and they really caught it well and they ran well after the catch. We’re always aiming for that consistency. I think we’ve had consistent groups in the past. I don’t think we’re there yet, but I see us moving in the right direction. In fact, I told the guys after practice today I really like what I’m starting to see.
On the team’s ability to stretch the field this season: Last year, I don’t know exactly what the percentage was but I know this, in terms of our vertical passing game we were very efficient and I think we have some guys that can stretch the field.
On how using the flex position changes the offense: The way I that I look at it, there’s not much difference if you look at the flex. It’s just moving a guy from inside to maybe three yards outside, so we can do all the things from the flex that we can from the normal set.
WR James Kirkendoll
On the mood of the team: Everybody is kind nervous. They’re just ready to kick it off. They’re ready to get tested. It’s like a big test and everybody is just waiting. Everybody has been beating up on each other in two-a-days and now we get to play somebody different.
On the wide receiver corps: Everybody’s competing right now. Everybody understands their roles, especially after this summer and two-a-days I think everybody knows their roles. We’re just competing and getting better every day.
On the difference in the wide receivers from last year: I just think a lot of people grew up from last year. We’re more grown up as a group. We’ve got as much talent here, not just on offense, but on defense too, as we’ve ever had here. We just make it challenging every day in practice.
On senior QB Colt McCoy: Colt is going to be Colt. We’ve just got to be on the same page with him and give him the time he needs to just produce.
On the group’s chemistry with McCoy outside of senior WR Jordan Shipley: I know a lot of people compare me, Brandon (Collins) or Malcolm (Williams). I think really he’s got the same chemistry with all of us. Jordan has been here a little longer. I think all our receivers are on the same page and everybody’s making plays.
On freshman WR Marquise Goodwin: Marquise is something different. He’s extremely talented. He’s going to be real good, he’s just real young right now, but he’s going to be a good player.
On sophomore S Blake Gideon: He comes downhill. Blake is smart and he brings the heat. He’s a real smart player. He hit hard a couple times in high school, and he’s doing the same thing up here. That’s the same thing with anybody on our defense.
DB Aaron Williams
On how he wants to build on his success from last year: I just want to get better every week. Last season was an eye opener of what I can be. Working with Coach Akina and Earl (Thomas) just makes me better every week. It’s not a point where you’re just good; you can always improve wherever you’re at.
On his punt blocking ability: I can’t really explain it. I just kind of do it. I also ask T.J. (Tony Jeffrey) who used to play here and I ask for his tips. He blocked a lot of punts when he was playing. I ask advice from him. That also helps me.
On what the defense’s goal is for Saturday: More right now we’re going for the W. We’re trying to focus on that W first, get our assignments, execute assignments, and play hard.
On how often they go through punt blocking drills: It depends on what the coaches want. We don’t ask coaches what we do today. You go out there and whatever coaches ask you to do, you do it hard, 100 percent. Sometimes I would do extra with coach. Sometimes I would ask T.J., “How can I get off the ball better?” or if my stance is right.
On what the most exciting thing about this week is: Words can’t describe it, because we’ve been waiting so long to hit somebody else other than our own players. Two-a-days we were hyped up and hitting each other, and now it’s just like, “You know what? I’m tired of hitting you all the time, and I’m tired of you hitting me. I’m ready to hit somebody else, and especially in the first game.” Plus we’ve got the new stadium built up, 100,000. We’re pumped up.
On what he sees in the ULM offense: Monroe is a very talented team. They’ve got fast receivers, a fast running back, a very tall quarterback, a very athletic tight end. Wherever they line up, we’re going to be right with them and play hard.
On if he feels like this is a good test: Every week is going to be a good test, no matter who it is. We’ve got to prove ourselves every week. It doesn’t matter who we play, we’re planning on playing hard.
S Earl Thomas
On the defense’s work to emphasize turnovers: We worked real hard in the offseason on takeaways, and it’s seemed to pan out so far, so we’ll see.
On if the defense had bad luck last year: We had a good d-line and they were sacking them. Many people don’t look at that. I don’t think luck had to do with it, or we’re unlucky. It’s just that we had a good d-line and they were just getting pressure on the quarterback. They had a lot of sacks. The balls we had a chance at, we just dropped. We’re just going to come up and make plays this year. So, we’re looking forward to this year and not last year.
On what is the best part of game week: Just getting prepared, especially for the first game. We’ve been seeing something new. We’re tired of hitting the same people. We’re going to get to hit them now. I’m just looking forward to stepping on the grass in front of all the fans and showcasing what we’ve got to do.
On if there is one thing the team wants to avoid in the first game: Just mental breakdowns, and no big plays, just doing what we’re supposed to do. Don’t get caught up in the game where you forget what you’ve got to do and bust an assignment. That’s how you give up big plays. We’ve just got to focus on the mental side, and do everything right.
On if walking out of the tunnel on game day ever gets old: It never gets old. We had a little practice a while back, it was a game situation, and it still felt good. We were just hopping around, everybody excited. We’re just ready to get on the field.
RB Vondrell McGee
On how big of a moment this game is for him: It’s big coming out here and getting to start the game off and just play and start the tempo, and just get the feel of the game.
On how it’s different knowing he’s the starter: It’s no different really. I’m just the person that’s going to start the game off, and that’s about it.
On what he’s looking forward to on Saturday: Going out there, it’s the first game, a big game, set the tone for the year.
On how much he expects to play under center: Probably not as much the first game, but I think as we get into the game and we get into our ground tempo, we’ll get into the I(-formation) more.
On trusting his eyes more this year: I think I have. If you don’t have vision, you can’t run the ball here. I’ve had to step my game up on that too.
On if he was more focused on going where the play was supposed to earlier in his career: Yeah, I think in the beginning I was focused on going where the ball was supposed to hit, and wasn’t really looking for other pathways to go.
On if the running backs have a chip on their shoulder: Obviously you don’t want the quarterback being the leading rusher on your team. When you’ve got a good quarterback like him who can throw the ball, you need other people to help him to run the ball.
On what impresses him the most about the ULM defense: They have a lot of speed, they run a lot of three down, and they move around a lot, so they’re very confusing. They don’t just line up like a regular defense. They do a lot of things to confuse the offense. They’ve got a lot of speed and a lot of athleticism.