VIDEO: Will Muschamp News Conference
Head Coach Speaks With Reporters, Gamecocks Held Second Scrimmage Saturday Night
Head coach Will Muschamp spoke with reporters Sunday evening on a Zoom call after the Gamecocks held their second scrimmage Saturday night.
– Really very pleased with how our guys competed Saturday night. I felt like we melted a little bit Tuesday and Wednesday in the heat, it was very hot. Well, we got to handle that. In our second ball game is at noon, it could be hot at 7:30 on September 26, but we really came out with as much energy and juices we’ve had throughout the entire camp, we really challenged our guys about that, but our guys competed their ass off Saturday night, and it was a beautiful night at Williams-Brice, had been a great night to kick off the season. Unfortunately we couldn’t, but really a beautiful night. We had a little time, we treated everything like game day. we had a pre-game meal at 3:30, we went through all the pre-game routine, especially for our young players. But I was able to walk through the Spurs Up 2001 club, and I want to compliment contract construction, Coach Tanner, our administration on the job. It’s a first class facility. I went in the Cockaboose Club, down where the old weight room is. It’s going to be a great venue for our fan base to continue to enjoy the best game day atmosphere in the country. I went to our new recruiting area, which is where the old meeting rooms are, have done a fantastic job there. And then on the East side, where the pavilion sits out, the chair back seating where the old red seats were now are gray seats, and then the club seating and they’ll be able to walk in underneath. It’s going to really enhance the game day atmosphere at Williams-Brice stadium and again I compliment our administration and the job they’d done. But we had a great night in the stadium. We had about 140 live scrimmage snaps, which was awesome. Our guys really got after it, I thought they competed. We had about 20 live special teams, snaps kickoff, kickoff return, punt, punt block, a field goal PAT, but a lot of situation works. We had about 160 snaps coming out of the scrimmage, I think Trey Jones rolled his ankle a little bit. I think he should be fine, but that’s it. And so, a lot of really good competition and competitive work done. A lot of improvement needed, as we went back and watched the tape today and last night as a staff. But if we continue to work the way we work Saturday night, we’ll be on the verge of some really good things. But again, I challenged our team when the scrimmage was over. Now, we’re going to have our meetings on Monday, our walk through a normal Tuesday, a normal Wednesday, a normal Thursday, meeting on Friday, and we’ll be back in Williams-Brice at noon. And I hope it’s hot because we got a battle that. We got to get mentally tougher as a football team to battle through the mental fatigue. Even my father used to always tell me, don’t let anything out of heart whip you. And fatigue, humidity, heat, rain, snow, none of that has a heart. And another man may whip my ass, but the other stuff doesn’t. So our guys got to get mentally tougher as a football team offensively, which conversely defensively. Anything we do offensively, is an issue defensively. So, we took care of the football. We had 160 scrimmage snaps, the ball was on the ground one time, which is one too many, but we really took care of the football, that was pleasing. We had a lot of explosive plays. Really, I go back to our first scrimmage in the red zone and the third down period, the situationally defensively, we did very well, but in the move, the ball periods all offensively, we hit some plays. And I think it’s really a credit to our guys and what they were doing. We were better in the red zone. We were better in some end-of-game situations than we’ve been, but too many negative plays on first and 10. I believe five different times, we started first and 15 because of a procedure issue. We didn’t have any delay of games, but flinching on the offensive line, not covering up the right guys, not having enough guys on the line. And that really contributed to us not doing very well on third down, because we were behind in the down and distanced a lot. And that was frustrating. But again, I saw a lot of improvement from scrimmage one to scrimmage two. Just as far as our operation offensively coaches off, we treated it just like a game, and I was very pleased with that. Defensively, a thing that strikes you is no turnovers. We had one ball on the ground. We had two young Dylan and Murphy not running to the ball. They could have had the opportunity to have a recovered fumble, and a great teaching for them, to understand you bust your ass to the football. At the time we had two balls tipped in the air, had opportunities on both of them to get them and we didn’t get them. So we’ve got to make sure we take care of those opportunities. In the first two scrimmage we’ve tackled extremely well. I think we had 12 miss tackles last week in 140 something snaps, and we had eight this week in 160. So, very pleased with how we’ve played in space, giving up too many explosives, not as good in the red area and the end of game, but very good on third down. We had a lot of favorable down in distances, in my opinion, to manage on third down. And then special teams, we covered about 10 punts live. I thought Kai punted the ball extremely well. We did miss a pooch opportunity, which he’s got to understand that. He put it at about eight deep and we need to be able to pin our opponent inside the 10 yard line. We missed that opportunity, but I thought our protection was good. Our coverage can be better, We’ve got to continue to improve there. Kickoff and kickoff return, the emphasis was more on our kickoff coverage, but we had two live reps, I thought it was solid. Fundamentally, we were high with some pads and we’ve got to leverage the ball a little better. But Mitch Jeter would be our kickoff guy if we play tomorrow, and Parker’s had an outstanding camp, kicking the football when he’s had his opportunities. But overall pleased, I thought we’ve made some strides from scrimmage one to now, and now we have really another, in essence, week of training camp, with a Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday practice, and another game-like situation on Saturday, and I’ll open it up for any questions.
– [Reporter] Hey Will, thanks for doing this. Have you picked a starting quarterback?
– No, Mike and I met today. You look at last week, Ryan was the player of the day for us, offensively did an outstanding job. We had some discussion about player of the day offensively, and Collin was Saturday, I mean, did a really nice job. So again, we got a great battle going on. It’s making each other better, making our football team better. And we’re going to let it go again this week and make a decision hopefully next week.
– [Reporter] Hey, Will, thanks for doing this. I wanted to ask, what is it about Kevin Harris and Deshaun Fenwick that looks different when he watched you film, compared to this time last year? What are the steps that those two have taken?
– Well, Deshaun’s a year ahead of Kevin, but, as young players, there’s a lot of, in high school, you’re not as asked in a lot of systems, I’m not saying all systems, you’re asked to run the football, you’re not asked to block. You’re not asked to be much in protection, as far as those things are concerned, but there’s a lot more asked of you as you continue to elevate yourself in the game. And those guys, number one, are in better shape than they’ve been in. I remember Kevin last fall, really struggling, from a physical conditioning standpoint, Deshaun, his first year, same thing. But I thought both guys improved a lot from the first scrimmage. I thought that they both made some positive runs. I thought Kevin especially made some nice cuts in the run game when we were alive the whole time. So he ran through some contact Deshaun did as well. But again, maturity happens in all different phases. Some guys, when they step on campus from… I always tell freshmen, playing as a freshman has to do with ability, has to do with opportunity, and has to do with maturity. So if you got to have the ability, number one, which the both guys do, both got need to have an opportunity, which I wouldn’t say either guy had a lot of opportunities because of the the seniors we had in that room that were very good football players. Rico just made it to the Dallas Cowboys, Steven Fisher’s still bouncing to make a team. And we had some guys Mon Denson, that maybe were a little ahead of them. And then maturity in both guys, young players need to mature, and everybody matures at different ages. But I think both guys from scrimmage one to scrimmage two made some strides
– [Reporter] Yeah, Will, I guess how’s the tight end competition going? And is there a pecking order right now, I guess a couple of weeks in the camp?
– I think, Collin, it’s going to be hard, when you talk in terms of pecking order, really throughout this entire situation that we’re going through. You look at Tennessee yesterday, and I don’t think it was all COVID related, but they had 40 something guys that are unable to practice, which means you can’t even scrimmage. And so, we had discussions this past week as a staff, about how, when we start game week, how are we practicing? Because if you just sit there and think you’re going to go saw scout team work, and you’re going to go 30 minutes of scout team work and your ones, and you’re going to get majority of reps and your twos, and then Clint Hacker is going to walk into my office on Friday and say, so-and-so’s down. And he’s had 75% to 80% of the reps through week, that can’t happen. So we’re going to do more crossover work, where it’s our first group versus our second group, offensively versus defense and others. And we got to have guys ready to go. Nick, I thought, had a pretty good scrimmage. He’s still coming off the knee, we have limited his reps, but he’s practiced every day, but I think he’s done some nice things, well register he’s been very dependable on everything that we’re asking him to do. Keveon Mullins adds a dimension to that position. He’s a guy that can really run, and has really flourished himself in the passing game a little bit. Obviously there are some things we need to tie up, as far as the run game is concerned. I would agree with that. KeShawn Toney’s been very solid in what he’s done. Trey Kenion, in his opportunities, has done a nice job that needs to become more reliable as far as assignment and those things are concerned. And Eric Shaw played about 18 snaps, I think it was, and made two really nice catches and athletically, shows you some things that you really want to see at the position. So, he has missed some times because of his bone spurs, but now he’s back and we have been really pleased with what we’ve seen, as far as that’s concerned. So, we’ll continue to work through it this week. Do we need to start narrowing some snaps down for some guys? Probably that’s going to probably happen next week, as more than it would this week, as concerned. But again, we’ve got to have all hands on deck ready to go, as far as those things are concerned.
– [Reporter] Yeah, from the side of it on Friday from talking to the two coordinators, I guess, Jahmar Brown and Zaquandre were unable to go on Saturday night.
– Zaquandre will be back Tuesday, he has a little bit of a hamstring. He’s practiced I would say the first eight, seven, eight practices, and then has been out with a little bit of a tweak of the hamstring, but he’ll be back Tuesday. We were in a helmet’s practice with Jahmar. He got rolled up on and sprained his knee a little bit. He should be fine. I don’t think we’ll get him back this week. But we got still three weeks before our first game out, expecting back the week before we played Tennessee.
– [Reporter] Well, since we don’t have an opportunity to be able to see you guys practice at all, what can you tell us about Collin and what he brings to that quarterback position? And then also, what have you seen from Ryan, being able to grow from year one to year two?
– Oh, I’ve seen a lot of growth with Ryan from the standpoint of asking him to do some different things, from being under center at times, doing some different things on the line of scrimmage. Mike puts a lot on the quarterback, as far as protections are concerned, as far as the run game is concerned. And I’ve seen tremendous improvement from Ryan. There’s no doubt about that. Collin, to me, brings an element of toughness, because of what he’s been through. He’s got some mental toughness about him, I think, that’s very well respected through our football team. Obviously we’ve talked about his arm talent, and he’s got a really good arm talent as does Ryan. They both throw the ball extremely well. But I think, obviously, Collin’s understanding of the system, because he’s been in it for now for three years, shows up a lot, and as far as his experience is concerned,
– [Reporter] Mike was saying, some of the fundamentals of offensive football, specifically the defensive two, blocking, route running, tackling, have suffered because no huddle offense has have kind of allowed offenses to get away with just catching people off guard. Do you agree?
– Well, I don’t think there’s any question, when you talk in terms of getting cheap yardage in a game and you’re playing fast, and that’s the advantage. I think in the last, I would even say two to three, three to four years, that tempo offenses don’t have that as much of an advantage. In my opinion, and especially in our league, the officials have slowed the game down a little bit, to administer the game better, to protect the integrity of the game better. But I also think that defenses have caught up, to being able to play faster and communicate better, than probably ever before. So I think that again, it’s like anything else in life, the more you see a scheme of all offensive set, a run game, a protection, a route concept, the more you continue to see those things, the easier they become to defend, defensively, no different on offense. The more you see bear front, the more you see an under front, then over front, whatever the case may be, those are the things you become accustomed to seeing. That’s some things that’s different for us defensively, of what we’re facing in training camp now than maybe we have in previous years, is a motion, a shift, a double shift from a tight end, change the string motion, which may not make any sense to anybody I’m talking to right now, before a football coach presents a lot of issues. And it presents a lot of issues, defensively for a player that’s never had to manage that before. And then accompanying that with tempo involved with it, creates some issues for you.
– [Reporter] Now how about what Mike, having sort of an old school background drew you to him, and that grounding, that foundation?
– I wouldn’t say old school background, I’d say new school background. You all look very similar in some regards.
– [Reporter] That’s why I put my picture up here.
– No, but I think that Mike, just watching what he did at Colorado state, obviously his success at Georgia speaks for itself and what he did there, and the stats speak for themselves. But again, what he did at Colorado state, and then just overall knowledge and vast knowledge of the game is as experienced and experienced especially coaching the quarterback position.
– [Reporter] What would you attribute the good tackling to at this point?
– Well, John, that’s kind of what I said. I wish we’d be making more guys miss some space offensively, call it like it is, and running through more contact, breaking tackles. And we’d have done that at times, so I’m not, minimizing that. But we always do tackling drills. We’ve done probably I would say more, not to the ground, but thud stay up tackling good-on-good drills, than we have before. Purposely, I didn’t think we tackled very well last year, consistently well. So we’ve done more of those things as far as leveraging the ball and tackling in situations, Excuse me, than we’ve done in the past. And so maybe that’s… Excuse me, sorry about that. I’m good, I’ve been tested, I’m good, all right. But, we’ve done more good-on-good tackling, John. So I would probably accredit that. That’s something we talked about as a defensive staff today and continuing to do those things in our Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday practice and preparation for Saturday. So, I think it’s two-fold. I think that we’ve maybe spent a little more time going good-on-good tackling, and not just necessarily going through a tackle circuit, which we always do, because iron sharpens iron, you get better when you’re tackling people in space.
– [Reporter] Is there anybody else who stuck out, that has been able to make people miss?
– Well, Shaw has been a guy that’s been elusive in space, he’s done a nice job. He’s got to continue to utilize and trust to speed on some perimeter plays on the edges. Rashad Amos is a very difficult guy. He’s got a big lower body, all right. And so he really moves the pile well. He had a really nice run the other night, where he ran through about four tackles on one play, so I guess half of our tackles were missed on that one play. But he ran through contact extremely well. Kevin Harris has run through contact well. So again, those would be the guys that would jump out at me right off the top.
– [Reporter] After two scrimmages, is there any phase of the game right now, that you may have concerns about or may not be exactly where you’d want it to be?
– Well, I think protection wise, and again, I think a little bit, it was because of some thud down situations that we were in, that our quarterbacks aren’t live, but we had gotten the quarterback hit a couple of times Saturday. So that’s concerning, there’s no question about that. We need to get Ernest Jones back on the field at linebacker, that position concerns you. He has been working out with his pads. We’ve been moving him around and he’s had no contact. He will start back on the 10th, which I believe is Thursday, as far as full-time practice with us is concerned. So he has been moving around. We do think he’s in decent shape. We need to do that, but there’s some obvious concerns there. So again, those would be the two things that kind of jumped out. I thought we improved our run defense in some spots on Saturday, as opposed to our first scrimmage. You’re always nervous with a new specialist and Kai’s a freshman, although he’s punted well, since he’s been here, there’s some concerns. But yeah, I would say there’s concerns across the board. Those are the ones that I’m just off the top of my head from watching Saturday scrimmage, they concerned me.
– COVID concerns me.
– [Reporter] Will, have you guys submitted that waiver for Jaylen yet? And if not, why not?
– We have, and we have not heard anything back.
– [Reporter] Also, I believe you guys got an extra scholarship. Have you awarded that to maybe you want to walk on so anything like that?
– I have not.
– [Reporter] Hey Will, I think it was on your call, I’m sure you mentioned Ryan having produced a number of explosive plays back in the first scrimmage. Was that something that continued into this scrimmage? And what about his game that sort of allowed him to produce those in these situations?
– Again, Mike does a really good job of creating one-on-one matchups down the field, and Ryan made nice throws at the end of the day. And then you got to have some guys from the receiver position, which we have had, that have made nice plays in 50-50 balls, and been able to go in and win the battles on the 50-50 balls. So that’s where a lot of those have showed up. We did have a busted coverage. I want to say two weeks ago, we didn’t take the wheel route from the backfield. But again, you got to be able to throw in catch. And we were able to do in that situation, which created one of the explosives.
– [Reporter] You mentioned Jordan Rhodes, obviously coming back and opting back in, I guess. What’s the timeline in terms of getting him back into practice and what have you kind of envisioned his role being this year?
– We have really spent this entire past week, total physical conditioning, changing direction lifting. he will practice on Tuesday, for probably half of the practice, and I would envision him doing about half of the practice for another week. But, if we continue to move in, Jordan’s a bright guy, he can learn, he’ll be fine. He’s played the guard position, he started for us. So he’s got experience. It’s not like he’s a player that’s never played before. So he’s a guy that’s got experience doing it, and he’s in every meeting. And so my expectation of him to go compete, to play.
– [Reporter] Well, I know this whole training campus spread out a little bit more in comparison to years past. Is it common for you guys, number one, to have a third scrimmage?
– Well, we will, again, we haven’t talked in terms of how that will be structured. I don’t know that we’re going to go 160 live scrimmage snaps again. We do need to get on and have some sustained drives on both sides of the ball, on offense and defense so our guys can get used to playing an eight, 10, 12 play drive, and sustaining through that. But we’ll look at Saturday, probably after Wednesday’s practice, to see the things that we feel like and I feel like, that we need to work on in all three phases. So there will be some scrimmage snaps on Saturday. To how much? I don’t know.
– [Reporter] Yeah, the reason I asked that, it seems like you kind of answered it, but it seems like you’re going to figure out, in terms of what players might play on Saturday. It might be one of those things kind of like, a fourth preseason game for the NFL, if you had to try and make a comparison.
– Well, I think that’d be correct. I do think that there are some things that we know, as a team right now, that we really need to work on, and that may not project to be in a scrimmage format, some different things, situationally that we need to look at before we start our preparation for our first game. So we’ll continue to work through those things this week and then see how we structure Saturday. But I was pleased with what we were able to accomplish Saturday night.
– [Reporter] What’s the status of your offensive tackle spot? And if you’ve done any shuffling there, what was kind of the thought process behind it?
– Yeah, we have, we’ve moved some guys around. Right now I would be hesitant to say a starting a unit, be honest with you. We’ve looked at Dylan Wonnum at both right tackle and left tackle. He is certainly more than capable of playing both. We’ve looked at Justin, obviously the left tackle position, Jaylen Nichols and Jakai more at the right tackle. Vershon Lee has been a guy that’s rotated in with that and would probably be our fifth tackle at this time. But those are the guys that we’re looking at, and we need more consistency at that position, with those guys.
– [Reporter] Yeah, Will, I guess Mike talked in one of his availabilities about figuring out what you’re going to kind of major in offensively, what’s kind of the bread and butter it’s going to be. Are you any closer to kind of figuring out that identity? And if so, where do you kind of see it falling right now?
– Well, I think, looking at personnel groupings, is still work in itself out, at the receiver position, at the tight end position. Prentice is going to be a really good fullback for us. There’ll be some traditional two-back, which he also can play in a wing situation, like you would see as a tight end, would be concerned. But trying to get the right reps for these tight ends is going to be critical through this next week, as we continue to evolve and look at that, and I think that at the receiver position, the same manner. So we have narrowed some things down, but I wouldn’t say that we’ve made some huge answers right now, as far as what we’re doing. I think he feels good, coming out of last night with the receiver position, something we talked about today. We’ve got to continue to… It’s hard sometimes calling when you’re installing an offense or a defense, and you’re trying to install base concepts within what you do, and knowing that, you’re not going to ask a player to do this on this play, or this and this defense. But in order to install the concept, you got to get it installed. But you’re sitting there going, I’m never going to put this guy in this situation, if that makes sense, what I’m trying to say. But we got to get things installed and get it exposed to the players because it may be something from an offensive line standpoint that we must work on, but maybe we’re not going to ever ask this tight to do what we would be asking them to do in a scrimmage situation. And that’s where it’s tough sometimes because you get yourself in a really bad match-up either on offense or defense, based on trying to just to get a look at the play, to get a look at the defense. And it’s really from a coordinator standpoint or a head coach’s standpoint, you’re just trying to get a look at the player. You get to look at the defense and you just trying to get it repped and to expose it to nine other guys, knowing that there’s two guys that are not going to be in that position, come September 26 or shouldn’t be. So again, I think that we’re still working through that a little bit.
– [Reporter] No, it’s not about wanting to play the best five or six guys, whatever the number is in the secondary. Do you feel like you’re close to having a feel for what that might look like?
– Well, I think, Saturday night was a big night for Cam and John Dixon. And I thought both guys at times did some nice things and there’s some things we need to improve on. So we put those guys in a lot of situations where they had some opportunities to make plays and they did some things well. Again, like I said before, there’s some things we need to improve on. Obviously Jaycee and Israel are really playing well. Jammie Robinson played extremely well Saturday night. R.J. has had a solid camp, has continued to improve throughout camp. as far as you would say, those four. I thought Shilo Sanders had one of his better practices Saturday night. His effort on special teams was outstanding. His effort on defense was outstanding. We had cleaned some things up, but again continues to produce. Jaylin Dickerson has done some nice things. We’ve got to continue to get him healthy a little bit, had a little bit of a hamstring the last couple of days, but we’re getting back probably Tuesday. And then John and Cam, Joey Hunter is a young player, I thought came on and did some nice things. O’Donnell Fortune has moved back and forth from corner to safety, had some runs come out on him and made a tackle on every single tackle in the open field, stuck his face in the fan and really, really fit, we we’re just watching that. So I, again, I think that just seeing the guys continue to develop, Darius Rush is a guy that’s done a really nice job as a missile on punt for us, can really run on the top end. He registers over 20 miles an hour, every time we practice when he’s on the catapult system, but a guy that certainly can help us at the corner possession. So we’re continuing to look work through that. Who will be the nickel, who’s at safety, who moves inside, who stays at corner. Those are all things we’re still working through as we continue to work through those combinations.
– [Reporter] Will, I think you mentioned a minute ago that you were encouraged by the wide receivers and you’ve mentioned explosive plays if the performance as a group surprised you at all, because I think there was some question marks about that position going into camp.
– Yeah, well, I agree with you a hundred percent. I think that Shaw has been a guy that had a couple big plays the other night, a couple of really nice catches down the field, 50-50 contested catches. Xavier had a huge reception in what we called an overtime situation, the third overtime, where you had to go for two, on RPO, across the middle, made it really nice play on the ball, going across the middle, knowing he’s going to get hit and got smacked pretty good and was able to stumble into the end zone, it was a big play for us. Jalen Brooks has made some plays for us, been pleased with that Rico Powers. I mean, people say well, who’s your first three. I wouldn’t say that he would not be in our first three right now. That has been a freshman that’s really come on. Ger-Cari Caldwell has improved from practice one to practice 13, I guess it was Saturday tremendously at a really good night Saturday night, there in the stadium made some contested catches, thought he did some really good things to carry on, continues to come on for us. Luke is still playing quarterback primordial at the time, but also playing some at the receiver position that caught a nice screen for about a 20 yard gain that I remember. So again, I think that that’s a position that has continued to come on for us and we need to continue for those guys to keep coming.
– [Reporter] Will, two questions. First of all, how often are you guys testing right now? And when do you go to three tests?
– Well, we go to three tests during the season and that’ll be prior the Sunday, prior to Tennessee, we are testing one time, the entire building on every Monday, which will be tomorrow again. And anytime at any player or staff member has any symptoms as they enter the building, we test them.
– [Reporter] Okay, and when you saw, I guess, what was your reaction when you saw that news out of Tennessee with kind of what happened to them and to seeing that and seeing how well you guys have done sort of confirmed the way that you’ve been going about this?
– I want everybody to knock on wood right there. It totally jinxed us. It’s the world we’re in right now and you can be careful. I know people that I know for a fact, I just know them as people that have been extremely careful, and they’ve contracted the virus, it’s very contagious. And so, it’s an eye opener. It’s why we’ve spent as much time, as we spend talking about how we’re going to practice during the season, all right. Because they can walk in on a Friday and say so-and-so’s down and so-and-so’s down and it’s not necessarily the positives of the test. I mean, you look at our situation, we had four positives last week, we’ve had 12 down. It’s not just the contact, it’s not just the positives. It’s contact tracing involved with that. And so that’s what’s eyeopening, alarming a little bit to me. But again, we’re going to do, what’s safe for our student athletes. And I don’t think that they were all COVID related there, but that’s part of the world that we’re in right now. And I saw a comment by maybe a broadcaster, a coach, somebody weekend’s been bothered, there’s been some sloppy football. Well, yeah, you take a guy that’s taking 80% of the reps at a position. And then you tell me on a Friday, he can’t travel to the game and play. And then you’re taking a, maybe a second team, or maybe they’re roommates, he’s contact trace. And You’re moving a guy from another position to this position, so you can play, and you can be able to… I mean, that’s the reality that we’re in right now. And that’s part of it.
– [Reporter] Will you’ve talked about Jahmar, obviously taking some reps at dime linebacker, for the people that maybe aren’t so smart at football to understand what dime linebacker fully is, I guess. What are the things in his skills that really translates to it? What are you kind of asking him to do in that spot?
– Well, we went into, to a fall camp. I actually, I would say, probably go back to in July, just looking at our roster and seeing a guy, that has a really big upside as a player in our opinion, has box instincts, so he can play in the box. He can play from tackle to tackle. He has really good run instincts, really good run pass instincts to key in diagnosed, play, run, play pass. When you need to, when you don’t need to, as we continue to work, I was like, this guy can be a really good dime for us. Cause he’s a guy that can play in space. He can cover in man coverage, and he can play in the box. So now he’s a guy that can slide out of the box. So let’s go and put him in the defensive back room, and teach more of the techniques and fundamentals in that room. And I guess where I would say, a little bit more of a maybe AP linebacker, advanced placement linebacker, as I say. But, to let him learn a little bit more of that side of our defense. And then as you got him in the back end, you saw the guy can play in the middle of the field. He can play a half safety, he can play a quarter safety, and we knew he could play down in the box. So he’s just added value to him as a player. And then being able to do some of the things he’s done at linebacker, that he’s already showed us, he could do, and then be able to play man coverage. And then now you’re able to disguise things so much better, when you have a guy that can cover, that can slide out of the box, can slide in the middle of the field, can do some different things, and we always really haven’t had that depth really, since we’ve been here, to be able to have that kind of guy We’ve had that kind of guy, I mean, RJ can do those things as well, but we get a little thin in the secondary about putting the quality player on the field that we want to have. So, he has a really good skill set for that.
– [Reporter] Two questions for you Will. What does it look like in center for you guys right now?
– Eric Douglas is our starter, and right now Vinny Murphy and Hank Manos are battling for the backup position. But I think Eric’s right now really positioned himself from a leadership standpoint, from getting us in and out of the right calls, John. But, but he’s had a really solid camp for us. Vershon Lee’s a guy that we’re going to look at a little bit this week, and see what he can do there, but that’s where we are.
– [Reporter] Well, so this is a little bit off topic. I’m not sure how much, you know off the top of your head, but the Fetal Euros Program that you started back in March or April, how is that coming along? Is that something you’re still pretty actively involved with even as we’ve gotten deeper into this pandemic?
– Yeah, we have, it’s still, working well, I got an email on it from Joe Walker, who really has been the legs behind the whole thing. Carol and I were talking one night, and then wanted to do something to help the people that are truly on the front line. And that’s our doctors, nurses, medical care people that are taken care of people that are being with this virus, with COVID. But Joe Walker’s really run with it, but it’s still up and running and doing well.
– [Reporter] You mentioned Rico, obviously making it to the Cowboys a little while ago, and T.J. and Joe Charlton making their respective teams, you had a chance to talk to any of those guys who were fine for roster spots? And what’s it like for you seeing guys like that, undrafted and being able to make 53 men?
– Well, I think it was a very difficult time for those guys. From my standpoint, they never had a pro-day. They really never had anybody. And those guys were all guys to me, when you meet T.J. Brunson, he’s going to impress you. He’s going to impress you with his football intelligence, with the type of person he is. I text back and forth with T.J. You, meet Joe, I couldn’t believe Joe didn’t get into a camp originally, I was shocked. I mean, this guy is one of the best planners I’ve ever been around. But I knew Joe would make a team, if he could get in front of somebody and I’ve text back and forth with Joe, texts back and forth with Rico. Leslie’s mom called the other night, a matter of fact, I need to call her. I’m glad you said that. And then texts back and forth with Jovaugn and Brian the other day. And, Brian got his name on the stadium, texts back and forth with Mitch Jeter’s mama to congratulate them. And we’ll take some pictures and put a nice picture together for them there. And, I text back and forth with Debo, I think he’s going to be up a week one. He felt pretty good about where he was with those things. So, we’re proud of those guys. I talked to Dylan, I asked him about Dennis periodically. So they’re all doing well proud of those guys. Taylor Stallworth made the Colts 53 man roster.
– [Reporter] What is a guy like Adam Prentice? What does having a player like that, allow you to differently scheme wise in the run game?
– Well, it’s interesting. I’ve got Dan Quinn being one of them, several people in the NFL call me every single year after our season and says, we’re really want to be some form of a two-back team. Somebody that has value on special teams, but someone that can be a lead blocker. And they’re very difficult to find because generally if they’re that body type and they’re a good athlete, they’re probably playing linebacker based on where they are now, in high school. They might be rushing the passer or they might be the feature back. And any feature back does not see himself ever as a fullback. And then that just never happens. So it’s a very hard position to find. It’s kind of like tight end right now. You either have guys that can stretch the field and will not block anybody, or you got to slog who can block it the point of attack, but can’t beat me in coverage. So it’s just hard, it’s hard to find guys, so hard to find guys like him. He obviously knows the system. He’s very well versed in what we do and how we do things, But he’s also going to be a big special teams contributor for us, as well as a fullback. But it’s just hard to find that. And when you don’t have that guy, now you start figuring in a two-back run game, which is totally different from a one back run game, especially if you have players in a lot of times, you’re projecting at linebackers, the other part positioned to find. Because generally the guys that have length, and have athleticism are rushing the edges. They’re putting those guys on the edge, letting them rush the edges. You’re always projecting to see if a guy can play, and to key in and diagnose a one-back run versus a two-back run is a thousand percent different. So with all that being said, it’s a hard guy to find.
– [Moderator] Phil Kornblut wants to know your view on these recruiting visits, organized by the recruit. Do you think it’s kosher? And if so, will you do it?
– Absolutely no comment.