I'm excited about game week. It seems like it's been forever since we
played, but looking back on the last seven months we've come a long way
as a team. We added a lot of bodies and overcame a lot of injuries. We
overcame several academic situations and 25 days of practice and camp to
get to the point where we can finally focus on game week. It's been fun
to try to get our guys focusing on somebody else other than themselves.
We've worried ourselves so much over the past seven months that it's
exciting to worry about someone else. We're excited to play our first
game, and we understand the challenges Marshall is going to bring to the
table. They're going to be a very motivated football team that is going
to want to come up here and play well. We're excited about them coming
up and bringing their best and seeing if we can match their effort and
enthusiasm to a point where we can win the game.
On what Marshall is carrying over from last year.
They played a lot of young guys (last year), much like we?re playing
this year. They return eight guys on offense and five or six guys on
defense and a lot of freshmen sprinkled in to their two-deep, much like
we do this year. They should come back ready to go. They won some close
games last year like we did and they got themselves to a bowl game and
won their bowl game, which is always positive in the off season from a
We expect them to be a better football team than they were last year,
not just when they played us, but also toward the end of the year when
you watch the product they put out there. That (offense) should not only
be improved, but also specific people. Everybody wants to talk about
(Rakeem) Cato the quarterback and (Aaron) Dobson the receiver, adding
some speed with transfers in their secondary, but top to bottom going
into (coach John Holliday) Doc?s year three, you should see a better
product out there.
On preparing for a possible changes in Marshall's offense
Who knows what we?re going to do offensively, right? Nobody knows for
sure. We may throw something else out there that they haven?t seen
before. Defensively, it?s widely known that we?re running the 3-4
defense, but what does that mean? There may be some things we do
defensively that they haven?t prepared for. I?m sure that their
defensive coaches have been studying football across the country for the
last six or seventh months and have come up with some different things
that they?re going to do against us.
Nobody knows going into the first game. You can assume all you want to,
but the bigger thing for game one is in-game adjustments, which I?m
confident our coaches are going to be very aware of and alert to what is
going on on the field, to the point where they can see what?s going on
and then talk about how we need to attack it either offensively or
defensively and get it communicated to our players so they can adjust
what they?re doing.
On the biggest surprise he has seen in a first game
You can only put 11 guys out there, so there are only so many things
you can do. Five of them are going to be linemen, one of them is going
to be a quarterback, a couple of them are going to be receivers and a
couple of them are going to be running backs. There are only so many
different things you can do. I don? think anybody is reinventing the
game. The biggest thing is in-game adjustments after finishing out what
the plan is going to be and figuring out what they?re doing on all three
sides of the ball.
On his anticipation of how Cato will play
I don't watch them (Marshall) practice, so I couldn't tell you. He's a
kid that can move around and throw the ball pretty well. I watched him
in high school, and he could do that in high school as well. It's all
about being comfortable with the system. I worry about more what our
quarterback does, as far as how he?s become comfortable in year two of
this offense. He?s become a little bit more accurate and a little bit
more mobile. Those guys are coaching him the same way, but I don?t watch
On matching enthusiasm and intensity and why it should be an issue
Regardless of who we played (last year), whether it was Marshall or LSU
when they were the No. 1 team in the country, it?s always like that.
Highly motivated teams are dangerous, which we know Marshall is going to
be a highly motivated team. One of the three things we talk about a lot
around here is playing hard, which means giving great effort and being a
physical football team. That?s something regardless of whether we?re
playing Marshall or the so-called No. 1 team in the country, we?re
always going to talk about that. Having lack of effort is something that
is not going to be tolerated around here.
On whether Dustin Garrison will take snaps Saturday
It depends on how he practices this week. We've settled on Shawne
(Alston) being the starter for some time, so Shawne will start and Ryan
Clarke will be the bigger back that we put in there. (Andrew) Buie's
been practicing really well.
Dustin hasn't had as many snaps over the last seven months, so we'll
continue to practice him. It's a long season, and if he's not ready to
go this week, then we?ll reevaluate it next week. That's just something
that we're continuously doing. I don't think Shawne Alston took a snap
until week five last year. Thirteen games is a long season for running
backs where you're asking them to run block, pass block, run with the
ball, catch the ball - there are a whole lot of things that position
does, meaning we need a lot of bodies to get in there and do it. We have
five or six there now, and we?re going to need all five of them, I can
On when redshirt decisions are made
We're still evaluating. We'll do the travel squad and dress list
Wednesday night. We may make some decisions on guys that won?t dress,
and if they don?t dress we are probably planning on redshirting them. If
we do dress them, they are the guys we just know that we?re going to put
into games. We might try to redshirt them, but based on availability, if
we need them, we?ll play them. After the first couple of games, if guys
haven?t gotten in the game, then we?ll probably quit dressing them
unless it?s an emergency situation.
On what Jordan Thompson did to become a starter
He adjusted to the speed of the game. That was the big thing. If you
would have had me rank Jordan with the rest of the receivers that came
in and judge them 1-5 what I thought their speed was, I probably would
have been wrong. It?s how you adjust to the speed of the game, how fast
you play between the whistles and a lot of that has to deal with the
cloudiness of the head. If they?re confused or uneasy, then their legs
tend to slow down. If they have a clear mind and understand what to do
and have a good sense for the game, their legs tend to move a little
faster. A lot of it had to do with being here in the spring, learning
things, understanding where to go and how to go there. He?s a definite
starter and Karl Joseph is a definite starter. He?s not confused, so he
moves faster and had a real good camp.
On if there is a concern about how young guys transition to playing in
Any time you get in a game-type situation, there is always some
concern. Typically, how you practice is how you?re going to play. You
may have wide eyes in the first game, you may not. Who knows what is
going on through 18-year old kids? heads? You have to keep that in the
back of your head. You need to be aware of how they are; you got to look
at their eyes on the sidelines if they come off. If they?re wide-eyed
and looking up in the stands, you have to slap them around a little bit,
get their attention and get them focused on what really counts.
Redshirt-freshmen are the same way. You talk about redshirt-freshmen
guys who haven?t taken a snap; we need to monitor their progress as
well. Guys like Cody Clay and Kyle Rose come to mind. Isaiah Bruce is
going to start at linebacker, and he has never taken a snap. I don?t
think there is a whole lot of difference from a redshirt-freshman and a
true freshman, maybe from a maturity standpoint.
On Donovan Miles? progression
He?s played ball; he?s a fifth-year senior. He?s been in a bunch of
games, whether it?s on defense or special teams - he?s taken snaps. I
would put him in the category of whatever we see in practice is exactly
what we?re going to get in the game.
On how Terence Garvin and Darwin Cook got ready for the first game
We handled that a long time ago. We?ve had lots of talks with them and
lots of early morning workouts with them to see if they wanted to be
here, and they?ve done everything that they?ve been asked to do. They?re
guys with a lot of experience that have been stepping up in the front
lines and two of the guys that we?re counting on to be leaders of this
defense, let alone the football team. I?m proud of how those guys
responded, and they?ve done everything we?ve asked them to do.
On how much he watches the guys in the first game
I can?t watch all 70 of them, but that?s why we have 15 other coaches
out there, whether it is in the box or on the field. The importance of
being on the sideline is so when guys come off the field, you look at
them to see how they are acting and you communicate with them. That?s
part of in-game coaching.
On how to get coaches to coach your style
It?s all part of the hiring process. I?ve hired guys that I?ve either
coached with, or we have coaches on the staff that have coached with
them. These guys are fitting in well. We coached with them for about 40
practices now, so we have a pretty good idea of what their coaching
philosophies are and what their schemes are and how they interact with
On whether he would rather not have a second-week bye
Yes. That?s just part of switching conferences. It?s not ideal, but we
know how to handle an off week - everybody has off weeks. However the
game goes, good or bad, we?ll come in Sunday, watch it and get it over
with. We?ll practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and we?ll go out
recruiting on Friday and Saturday. That?s how pretty much how all
off-weeks are, so we?ll be able to get out next week and watch high
school football games.
On whether he is ready for game week
I would have been ready a week ago. We?ve been focusing on this team,
which is our team, for a long time. We have gotten to the point where we
know how to line up and what we?re going to do. We could?ve probably
done it last week and been just fine. I feel good about where we?re at
as a team and who we have plugged in there in the schemes that we have.
It?s Tuesday, so we have three ?four practices between now and the game
to get our kids as familiar with Marshall as we think we need to get
them. From a coaching standpoint, we feel like we know enough about
them, as much as we?re going to know about them prior to the first game,
so it is our job to get the players as prepared as they possibly can.
They?re going to be prepared from a knowledge standpoint, and they?re
going to be prepared from a ready-to-go standpoint.
On hitting in camps and hitting in games
I think we?re fully prepared. We?ve played a lot of football against
each other over the last four weeks. We?ve probably played more live
situations over the last four weeks than I?ve ever been a part of. We?re
as fully prepared as we possibly can be.
On how the defense helps the offense prepare
They?re stopping us a good bit. Nobody knows more about our offense
than three of our defensive coaches, maybe four of them. Joe (DeForest)
has been defending us and wide open offenses for 12 years, so has Keith
(Patterson) and Erik Slaughter. Daron Roberts sat in our meetings for a
whole year offensively. We?re not going to go against anybody that knows
more about our offense than our defensive coaches do. They?ve done a
good job of defending us and pointing out things that have made us
On having players focus on the team instead of themselves at the NFL
I can assure you that is not something they're thinking of. I don?t
know how it?s been in the past, but we?re worried about beating
Marshall, we?re worried about what our game plans are offensively and
defensively and we're worried about playing well. That's the only thing
we're worried about right now. We?re not worried about JMU, not the Big
12. We?re sure not worried about the NFL. We?re going to go out there
and do what we have to do to win this first one.
On whether it can sometimes be bad that everybody is so ready
I think that?s always an issue. Offensively, we have a lot of guys that
have been in (tough situations) and are strong leaders, to the point
that they can overcome adversity. Nobody overcame more adversity than we
did last year. There was a whole bunch of stuff for a 12-month period
that we overcame, and I was proud of how well we overcame it.
A lot of those components are still here. We overcame a lot of
adversity in that Orange Bowl, and we won by a considerable amount. We
were down for a quarter and a half. Adversity hits all of the time, and
you need guys to step up.
Defensively, we have seven or eight starters coming back that have all
been in pretty big battles and have overcame a lot of adversity. I want
to know which one of those guys is going to stand up and get in front of
22 of his peers and say enough is enough, much like Keith Tandy and
Najee Goode did. That?s probably the biggest thing I worry about
defensively - not having guys that have played or guys that have made a
bunch of plays, but having guys who will stand up in the locker room and
get in front of somebody and say this isn?t acceptable. Keith and Najee
did a tremendous job. We're still looking for those guys; they're out
there, I just don't know which ones they are.
On whether guys like Jeff Braun and Joe Madsen and the offensive line
act like leaders
Those are fun guys. Those guys are two guys that will stand up and say
something. Josh Jenkins has had a great camp, and (Quinton) Spain and
Pat (Eger) have as well. Those guys, from an experience standpoint, have
played a lot of football. They?re having a good time, they're better
than they were a year ago, they understand what we?re doing a lot more
and they take pride in making sure No. 12 is doing OK behind them. They
take pride in knowing that if it is third and short, we?re going to give
it to Shawne and get the first down. That's part of where we're at
On the depth of the offensive line
We have about eight bodies, and I think at this point last year we had
about five-and-a-half. We have better depth. We?re practicing better and
practicing smarter. The first 10 weeks of the season we practiced six
guys, so that has been a huge focal point. Obviously, everyone needs to
stay healthy to have a good year. The continuity that exists up front
will remain intact as long as they are healthy and fresh.
On whether any wide receivers have stepped up.
Not really. We have four starters, and we?ll roll people in. Ivan
(McCartney) has done better, K.J. Myers has done better and Dante
Campbell has done better. We still have four or five freshmen that