Aug. 9, 2015
We’re looking forward to whatever happens this year. Obviously we don’t know what’s going to happen, but we think we’ve got a team that could be very competitive with everybody we play. The first one is against North Carolina in three weeks or so. We’ll start game planning for them 10-12 days before that game. Right now we’re just practicing — practicing what we’re going to do offensively, defensively, special teams — and hopefully find the best players to put out there.
We are unknown — I didn’t realize until reading some of your articles that our quarterbacks have combined for eight passes and 29 yards, and after Pharoh [Cooper] just Shamier [Jeffery] has caught a pass. So, we’ve got some players who have to prove to everyone that `I can play wide receiver’ and `I can play quarterback.’ We’ve got a lot of coaching to do, though. I can assure you of that — on offense, defense, special teams. We’ve got a lot of coaching to do, but the players have had a wonderful attitude. The special teams guys have really been hustling, maybe a little better than last year. But, again, the finish of last year got us pumped up, rejuvenated, and we’re ready to give it our best shot this year.
I really like what our defense is doing. The safety is back there almost every play. We don’t have any of those funny coverages where there’s nobody back there. Guys are really understanding their assignments and their roles. We had very few mental mistakes out there in yesterday’s scrimmage on the defense.
We’re off and running and looking forward to practice tomorrow at 8:15.
On emerging leaders
The normal leaders [have emerged]. A lot of players had exceptional summer workouts — Pharoh [Cooper], Brandon Shell, T.J. Gurley, Jerell Adams — had an excellent summer. We don’t have any loud guys, so much. I sort of like the guys who lead by example. We’ve got several older players that have really demonstrated excellent leadership.
On David Williams ready to take the next step
Running backs are looking good. They’re all very healthy right now — Brandon Wilds, David Williams — and those young guys are looking pretty good — Mon Denson and A.J. Turner. The two freshmen look quick and are very good backs. Right now, I’d say both of [the returners] will play a bit, sort of like Brandon and Mike Davis did last year. That’s where we are. Running backs do get hurt occasionally, more than other positions, so we’ll just have to wait and see how that works out. But, those young guys are good, and a couple of the walk-on players — Darius Paulk and Rod Talley — are very good players also.
On possibility of redshirting freshman offensive linemen
It depends on injuries. If they don’t play a lot, we’ll hope to redshirt them. Obviously we’re glad we reshirted Brandon Shell. Brandon came back for his fifth year. He probably would’ve had a shot in the NFL, but he realizes he can play a lot better than he played last year. He’s physically stronger and quicker than he was last year.
On being impressed with freshman offensive linemen
They haven’t played yet, so we’ll reserve a lot of praise for them until they start playing in a real game. They have excellent attitudes. They hang around together and are all fine young men. I’ll let Coach [Shawn] Elliott talk about them a bit more. He watches every move, every day.
On timetable for selecting a quarterback
No, in fact, they’re all pretty even. Right after the scrimmage [yesterday], I thought Connor Mitch had played a bit better, but after watching the tape, they’re all very close. They’re all very similar statistically, which they’ve been since spring practice. It’ll work its way out. We’ll keep scrimmaging and letting those guys play more and see what happens.
On importance of Jerell Adams with inexperienced quarterbacks
Hopefully Jerell will have a big year. We keep thinking he’s going to bust out and really have a big year. He should this year. It’s his last go around. This is his fifth year. Jerell will get a lot of opportunities, and hopefully he’ll have a big year. I think he’s ready to go.
If quarterbacks stay even, how will you choose?
There’ll be something that’ll happen and we’ll [choose]. If they’re all very even, we may say `You’re going to play the first couple of series and you’re going to play a couple and see what happens.’ You have to watch players in real action, as we know. Even those scrimmages that we have, some guys get a little nervous. We’ll see in the next one if they can improve and correct some mistakes they had yesterday.
On Donell Stanley and Malik Young being ready to play
Hopefully in 3-1/2 weeks they will be. In the scrimmage yesterday, they didn’t look that ready. Donell wasn’t that bad. He only had one assignment error that I remember, Malik had two or three. Those guys are young, very young. They have the ability, though. They’re both talented young guys. They should be all right in time.