Sept. 3, 2009
Offensive coordinator Greg Davis
On the 5:30 a.m. Monday workout: We do this during the bowl season, so you’ll find out that the guys really like it after they do it I think because it gives them the full day to go to school and do other things. I’m not sure if you gave them a vote that they wouldn’t do it more often than after the opening day of the first game of the year.
On the excitement surrounding the first game: The first day before training camp opens, I don’t sleep well. During the game week there are always butterflies because you don’t know for sure what you’re going to get. It’s a little bit like Christmas. You know you have a nice package there, but when you open it you hope it’s what you asked for. These guys have had a really good camp, and I feel like they’re ready to play somebody else, so we need to go out and see where we are.
On offensive improvement: As we said back in the spring, we want to make sure that when we choose to run the ball either in short yardage, goal line, coming out, in the game situations, that we’re more proficient than we were last year. That’s always going to be a concern going into an opener because with the number of scrimmage snaps that you get, you have to be smart during camp, so that would be an area. Dan Buckner is going to play a big role as a slot receiver, so even though he’s played, this will be his first time to take over that role. Also, Jordan has moved from a slot receiver out to a split end position. You feel like you’ve touched everything with those guys that they need to cover but now you have to do it live.
On Garrett Gilbert: I think what we’d like to do as we get close to conference play, we’d like for Garrett to have played enough that he’s comfortable. We’ll just see how it plays out as we go down the non-conference schedule, but certainly we need to get him ready for when the conference gets started.
On Vondrell McGee: I’m very impressed. Vondrell started in the offseason way back in January working extremely hard and you’re seeing it now. We’re seeing it the way he’s practicing. I told somebody earlier that Vondrell wants to play. Last year he was going to hit the tail of the tackle no matter what was there, and we said, "But you know we also recruited you, so if you get to the tail of the tackle and there are a bunch of bodies there, go somewhere else, trust your eyes." He is running much more relaxed, he’s making cuts quicker and sharper, and because of that he’s improved his pass protection and his pass running skills. I think he’s made a huge jump since January of last year.
On the opportunity for players to step up: We talk to our guys all the time whether or not it’s practice or a ball game that we want to play to a standard. We want to play each week with the idea that we’re getting better and improving. We want to have ball security, and we want to have a limited number of foolish penalties. You only get 12 (games) that are guaranteed, so you don’t want one to slip away from you and that’s the way we’re approaching this one. The other thing about this one is that because they have a new defensive coordinator, we’re studying Louisiana-Monroe for personnel, but we’re studying New Mexico for schemes and so we’re back and forth in the film rooms watching both of those teams, so it creates a guaranteed concentration so to speak.
On executing creative plays this year: Well hopefully over the season we will. A lot of times the creative plays you’re talking about, the gadget plays or the deceptive plays, sometimes what people are doing with their blitz package will really limit those things because with a lot of those plays you’re counting on catching a base defense. Hopefully over the course of the year we’ll be able to do some things that the players like, the fans like, and it gives you a chance for an explosive play.
On Colt McCoy: There’s no question that he makes my job easier. When you’re playing with a freshman quarterback, a lot of times you’re really trying to manage the game, you’re trying to make sure that one, you don’t put those guys in situations that they might not be ready for, or two, that they may be ready for mentally but they haven’t done it enough physically. As those snaps build up over the course of four years now a lot of times I will tell him, "Hey I’m going to put you in this, and it’s your job to make sure it works out." As a play caller, there are very few times in the course of the game that you just nail a call, you knew exactly what they were going to do and you knew exactly the play you wanted. Most of the time you’re calling a solid play and it’s the execution by the quarterback that makes it better. The longer that a guy plays for you, the more you know he’ll do that.
On John Chiles: He’s had a great camp. I think he was very smart to move in the spring because that gave him the foundation that he could really have a good summer because he knew the foundation, which he did. Then he’s had a really good camp, I think he and Colt are on the same page on what they’re doing. John has the ability to break tackles, he’s an extremely strong runner, but there’s still a process because you have to take it to Saturday. I feel very confident that he is going to have an outstanding year for us.
Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp
On game week: Well they all ought to be able to get ready for the first game that’s for sure. It’s exciting, the stadium looks beautiful, and it will be exciting to get out there and put our brand on the season. I know our kids are excited about it.
On player’s excitement towards first game: I’m excited that our kids are thinking positively about the game, and that’s a good feeling, but talk is cheap, we need to go play. The kids need to play well, we need to strike up front and get off blocks and leverage the ball correctly, adjust to the multiple formations and shifts that Monroe will give us. We just need to do a great job early in the game and adjust to what they give us.
On controlling players' emotions this week: Well, you play Saturday, so you want to temper in the enthusiasm throughout the week and let them understand that it’s a workman effort throughout the week to the game day effort on Saturday. You approach each day with that lunch pail attitude to go out and just work hard and make sure that we take care of the fine details throughout each day and each practice as we build up to game day and cut it loose on game day.
On any concerns: Well, you always worry about what you didn’t cover or go over, and you really just need to let your kids play and let the scheme take over, and let them adjust things out as well as they know how to do. As a coach, you’re always worried about what you haven’t covered. Obviously we’re going to see some things that we haven’t prepared for, but our kids just need to adjust things out and play well.
On Sergio Kindle: Well, Sergio is a leader by example; he’s not a really vocal guy. He came to me after I talked to him about being a leader and he said, "You know, I’m not a very vocal person," and that’s when I learned a great lesson about not asking someone to be something they’re not, and to let him just play. He plays with a relentless effort, an attitude, and a physical toughness, and his physical presence positively affects the rest of our football team, especially our defense. Let him be who he is, don’t make him something he’s not, so I learned a great lesson there of just letting him be the football player he can be.
On defense: I think we have a lot of competition at most positions, so I think that’s a great motivator. When they step on the field, we’re going to grade the film each week of who has great effort and who produces, and the guys that do that will be the ones who get the most snaps. They understand that as they approach each week, so it’s a great motivator for us as coaches
On the freshmen: It’s kind of like Christmas. You want to see what these guys are able to do under the lights and how they’re going to respond. They’re going to be freshmen. They’re going to make mistakes, and we know that going in, so let's just get great effort from them and get them to play hard and within the scheme of what we’re trying to do. Once they understand the tempo and the attitude that they have to deal with, they’re going to be outstanding, and I’m excited about all of those guys that are going to contribute for us.
On ULM: They have very capable guys at skilled positions to create plays and space. They are a spread offense, they’re going to multiple motion shift, and give you a lot of different looks. We have to do a great job of having our eyes in the right spots and making plays and space against a team that’s going to have a lot of skill.