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Opening Statement: Quick injury update; Gary Johnson strained his groin. He was rushing the passer, got locked up and a cleat kind of stuck and twisted his leg awkwardly. I don’t think it’s anything serious.
Not a very good practice today. We’ve got to do a better job getting our guys up and motivated for each practice. We fumbled the ball way too many times today on offense. Defense in the play-it period had both the ones and the twos drive 70 yards on on their respective defenses for a touchdown. We’ve got to do a job getting our guys right and protecting the football. Again, as I’ve told you guys many times, there are two demands in this program and that’s effort and ball security. We’ve got to figure out a way to do a better job protecting the football. We will. I’ve been doing this long enough. This is pretty standard for the middle of spring ball. First day of pads on Saturday, dinged up a little bit. Guys are feeling it. Pretty good workout yesterday. It’s our job as coaches to light a fire under them a little bit and to make sure we get the most out of them on Thursday.
On if they were in the rain for the ball security problems: For a little bit. Then it was just becoming too much. You only get 12 in pads. Part of me wants to, as long as there’s no lightning, I want to stay out and prove to our guys that we’re not soft. At the same time you only get 12 of these in pads and you want to maker sure that they’re getting good work. It got to the point where it was too much of a hindrance.
On Johnson’s timetable to come back and returning players from injury in the spring: I’ll never push a kid to come back. We get them back as fast as possible. Nobody’s exempt from getting better in this program. If there’s a “hey coach he can go but he’s going to be limited,” then lets weigh the pros and cons here. Nobody’s going to be put in a glass case in this program.
On what Toneil Carter needs to prove to be trusted with the ball: We’ve got to coach him. That’s our job, is to coach him. His job is to accept coaching. Our job is to coach him. Coach Drayton’s got a big task ahead of him. I’ve got a big task ahead of me. Coach Beck has a big task ahead of him. It’s to make sure that we can trust running backs holding on to the football, and that’s never in doubt. That way, the most talented guy can play because what a shame it would be if a talented guy had to sit on the bench because nobody trusted him. This is not just Toneil Carter specific, this is anybody. It’s our job to make them trustworthy, and it’s their job to accept our coaching too.
On Ayodele Adeoye’s role with Johnson injured and a freshman handling being the first guy: He’s swimming. You just answered my question for me that he is the first guy now? I think that will be by committee. Ed Freeman can play that position. That will be him and Ed probably splitting the reps between the ones and the twos.
On Denzel Okafor: Better. Better. He had a great play in inside drill on Saturday and Coach Hand had an offensive meeting to show some of the highlights and teaching moments from Saturday’s practice. In front of the group, he said… I can’t really say what he said. He said “you really put yourself in a tough spot there, Denzel, because now you’ve proven to all of your teammates what you’re capable of. Now we’re all going to expect that every play.” He did a good job today. Had a couple SNAFUs here and there. He’s better.
On where PJ Locke and Chris Brown fit: Today we put lightning in. The first guy to play the B or Joker position would be John Bonney because he’s done it before, which then moved PJ to boundary safety, which moved Josh Thompson to nickel with the ones. That’s probably the biggest difference right now. Everybody else is still pretty much status quo.
On what he meant by Orlando taking it easy on the offense: He’s still installing. Maybe I did a poor job of explaining myself. He still installed it and when they had their time away from the offense they repped it and got it installed. It was more of a when we’re going against the offense, we need to see a base three-man front with quarters coverage or man coverage. The next day, a base four-man front with quarters coverage or man coverage then we can start sprinkling in some of our calling card stuff on defense. They installed it. I probably used the wrong word. It was probably more of what they gave the offense to look at.
On if he thought the offense wasn’t good enough to handle the defense: Oh my gosh, no. No. It has everything to do with me doing everything I can to help the offense grow. Evaluating the entire year last year, having to play against the exception every day instead of the rule is not a good way to install on offense. It’s just not. I wanted to make sure that we didn’t stunt the offense’s growth this spring. As you guys know, in spring ball and training camp the defense is always advanced. It should be ahead. I’d be concerned if they weren’t. There’s no doubt, we showed it today. This was a call the defense, there was no restrictions on it today. Both units drove 70 yards for a touchdown.
On if freshmen will have a chance to lose their red helmet stripes this spring: Yeah. I think so. (No one has lost it yet) I’ll let you know.
On why the defensive line went to a major concern this time last year to a team strength: Yancy McKnight, Oscar Giles, and Todd Orlando. They’ve done a marvelous job of preparing those guys and developing those guys. We’re not a finished product by any stretch of the imagination up front. Just physically how good a shape we are in now compared to last year and how explosive we are and powerful we are is night and day from where we were this time last year.
On if anyone has flashed at nose tackle and how Ta’Quon Graham is doing at that role: Good. It’s a different world in there. The closer you get to the ball, the more bodies you have around you. I think he’s adapted well. Hopefully we’ll get Chris (Nelson) back here in a week or two. That will help. Gerald Wilbon’s another guy that is, I don’t know if flashed is the right word, but he’s on track.
On if he has any thoughts on his QBs: No.