Tom Herman post-practice quotes – 8/4/17

Jeff McCulloch and Malcolm Roach. (Will Gallagher/IT)

Jeff McCulloch and Malcolm Roach. (Will Gallagher/IT)

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Friday means full pads. Head coach Tom Herman discussed his team’s performance in full contact football and took the time to address battles at several positions. He also talked about what he wants to see tomorrow in the team’s best-on-best scrimmage.

Opening statement: “Really, really good day today. I was a little bit… worried is not the right word. I was anticipating how we would respond to putting the full pads on and four really tough days, long days leading up to it. The guys came out with a lot of juice. It was hot the last couple of days. We hadn’t seen the sun very much. The sun was beating down on us pretty good today. Credit to Coach (Yancy) McKnight and his staff. The defensive players in our tackle drills, in goal line and in inside drill, much better pad level than in the spring. Much better knee bend, hip explosion. We’re not a finished product by any stretch of the imagination. We’ve got a lot to clean up. Our body position and our pad level was encouraging. Reggie (Hemphill-Mapps) was held out. Precautionary. We’re treating it still as a migraine, which I think it is. He was cleared to go into meetings and all that stuff last night. Didn’t want him in any contact today. I should know later today if he’ll be good to go tomorrow. Kirk (Johnson) will be out tomorrow, but if we keep progressing he should be back on Monday. Other than that, everybody was good to go at practice.”

On if players know if padded practices mean more: “We talk about it all the time. We had a team meeting last night. They grow up in this generation of 7-on-7 and all the other stuff, which is good. There’s nothing wrong with that. I think it builds certain skills, but it’s definitely not real football. They understand the importance of putting full pads on and tackling to the ground. Training as real as we can in simulating game-like situations is how you get better. They believe in that. They understand the importance of it.”

On Kyle Porter’s consistency and why he’s with the ones: “Definitely. Kyle did everything we asked him to in the spring. He stayed relatively healthy until, I think the only practice he missed was the spring game because he rolled his ankle. Chris (Warren) has had a great summer. It’s kind of like the question I got asked on defensive ends yesterday. Whether you take the first snap or the fourth snap at running back, we’re going to need to roll guys at that position. Chris has done what we’ve asked him to so far, and so has Kyle. Yeah, I think it’s only fair that a guy that makes it through pretty much the entire spring practice and does it well, that he gets the chance to jog out there with the ones.”

On running back’s receiving ability: “Good, not great. Good. I think probably Toneil (Carter) would be the most fluid ball catcher with probably Kyle, then Chris, then Danny (Daniel Young). Good, not great.”

Kyle Porter. (Will Gallagher/IT)

Kyle Porter. (Will Gallagher/IT)

On if anyone brought unexpected physicality: “Thought our two young tight ends (Reese Leitao and Cade Brewer). I don’t know about coming out of the spring because they weren’t here. It was good to see them throw their stuff around in inside drill and team settings. They need to get stronger, but they certainly weren’t scared.”

On the scrimmage tomorrow: “The whole scrimmage will be ones (vs.) ones, twos (vs.) twos.)”

On the length of the scrimmage: “Couple hours, probably. I would think each group, scrimmage one, somewhere around 60-70 plays. We don’t have all our special situations. We don’t have two minute in yet. We have a very bare bones red zone and goal line package. It’ll be a lot of just put the ball down on the minus-25 and go play football.”

On the helmet stripes: “That’s very astute. The red stripes are for the newcomers. Kind of a pledging, if you will. Not quite members of the family yet. They’ve got to go prove it on the practice field and at some point they’ll get that stripe off. Then the black stripe, yeah for our quarterbacks and running backs, we want to be able to see on video where exactly are they looking. Granted, I can look at you and my head be this way, but in a helmet that’s pretty tough to do.”

On the red newcomer stripes: “I think it’s just when you get here, you haven’t been through everything that the veterans have been through. To just be handed the keys without earning anything would be doing a disservice to the veterans. They don’t get treated any different, but we make a big deal when they earn the right to take the stripe off and kind of become a full-fledged member of our family.”

On how long some players could keep stripes: “Sometimes, after tomorrow. Sometimes, a couple of weeks.”

On if guys can separate themselves more in a scrimmage setting: “I don’t think so. For us, the scrimmage setting is good because it allows coaches to get off the field. It allows us to go through game-like situations, game-like execution, game-like procedures without a set drill. ‘Hey this is 3rd&10, 3rd&8, 3rd&6, whatever the case may be, inside drill. It’s just 11-on-11, go play football, play it as it’s spotted. It doesn’t carry any more weight than an individual drill on a Monday practice.”

On Elijah Rodriguez repping at 1st team tackle: “Cause he’s good enough, one. We’re going to put the best five offensive linemen out there. Shack has come back really well, Zach Shackelford. Right now, if we had to play a game, those five would be the best five with Shackelford at center, (Jake) McMillon at right guard, and Rodriguez and right tackle. What it does allow, too, is it allows Denzel (Okafor) and Tristan (Nickelson) some reps at left tackle as well. If we’re going to need a swing tackle — as I’ve said before, most teams that I’ve been on, you’ve got seven to eight offensive linemen that you feel good about putting in a game. It’s usually your five starters, one tackle that could probably play left or right and one inside guy that can play either guard or center. It allows those guys to get some reps at left tackle, too. They’re still improving. We don’t play a game tomorrow. They’ll have every opportunity to go earn that spot, too. But it will be a good battle. Right now, those five guys plus Denzel, Tristan, and probably Pat Hudson at this point are all eight guys that we’ve just got to figure out the best combination of five to jog out there.”

On Jake McMillon’s versatility and if he’s underrated: “He’s not underrated by me. I really like being around him. He is versatile. Very, very much so in terms of his ability to play center and guard. Really smart guy. Powerful, so he’s able to hold his own inside there with the Poona Fords of the world. I don’t know that underrated is the right word, but certainly very versatile.”

On if team is meeting expectations: “I felt that, too. I’ve went back and watched a few of these, and yeah, I guess that’s the only conclusion probably that you can draw. Again, I’m glad we don’t play tomorrow. We’re not a finished product by any stretch, but for the most part they’re doing what we’ve asked them to do. Probably the two things that still I wish were a little bit more polished now than they are would be still some busts on defense, not communicating, and some assignment errors on offense. We talk to them all the time about, especially this time of year, don’t worry about making mistakes. Just go really hard. Be really physical. We’ll correct those mistakes. Now if it becomes a pattern and those mistakes continue to repeat themselves, we’ve got issues. Right now, this time of year, it’s just about going hard and physical. For the most part, they’ve done that.”

On if being this happy with team this early makes him nervous: “Yeah. I don’t’ know that I’m ever happy. That’s pretty exaggerated. You’re proud of the guys for doing that. We’re a very honest and transparent program. When they’re doing well, they’re going to be told ‘keep it up and get better.’ When they’re not meeting expectations, they’re going to be told that, too, and they’re going to be told how to do that.”

On what was installed today: “Goal line and red zone was the install today. As it is pretty much every year, the first day we put on full pads we want to put them in as physical of situations as we can. Short yardage, goal line, red zone is football in a phone booth. We wanted to see guys that responded to that.”

On competition at B-Backer and Jeffrey McCulloch: “I think they’ve each got their strengths and weaknesses. I think Jeffrey’s got to be more consistent against the run. I think his strength is rushing the passer at that position. Naashon (Hughes) is about the opposite. He’s pretty good against the run. He’s smart. He knows where to be and how to be there, but we need a little more production from him rushing the passer. Both of them are well aware of their weaknesses. It’ll be a good battle the whole camp.”