Joe Lorig: "I feel good about them and am excited to see them play. I think we are tired of practicing against each other and ready to play a different opponent. I think we are more physical than we were in the past, I've seen improved ball skills and that is something we worked hard on. I also see good continuity and good communication with the group.
"The number one thing for them to do this season to be successful is to take away vertical shots and we obviously did a very good job of that last year. The pass rush with Will (Sutton) and Carl (Bradford) obviously helps, but we have to make sure that we make teams earn things and not commit penalties."
Devils Digest: The group is relatively inexperienced, but having a rock in senior Osahon Irabor I would assume helps negate that factor…
Joe Lorig: "You see him wearing the PT42 camouflage jersey in the practice and that speaks volumes as to what he does on and off the field. He's steady every day, you can always count on him and he is a great leader. Great person first and foremost and has fantastic character which shows in all areas and really gives those (inexperienced) guys someone to look up to."
Devils Digest: Lloyd Carrington may have started fall camp on a better note than he ended it, now splitting reps as a starter. How would you assess his performance right now?
Joe Lorig: "We're just extra hard on those young guys to really get them to do things our way, and doing things perfect every time. Our expectation is perfection and that is hard to accomplish. I'm excited about him. He has great size, another great character person and I think he will be a great corner in this conference. People forget that he didn't play football until he was a high school junior and then he sat out last year (due to his transfer from Pitt). No excuses for him, but there will be a natural learning curve."
Devils Digest: Robert Nelson is the player battling Carrington for starter duties. Obviously he also dabbled with some reps at field safety. What kind of camp has he had?
Joe Lorig: "He had a great camp, and really what myself, Coach Graham and Coach Ball are trying to do is to get the best four (secondary) players on the field. Whether that is four corners or four safeties or however you mix and match, and then you have to factor in injuries and things like that. But again, it comes down to putting the best four guys on the field and Robert is definitely one of those guys."
Devils Digest: Rashad Wadood had a strong spring, but struggled at times during camp. How would you rate his performance in the last few weeks?
Joe Lorig: "I think he has a done a good job, right he's just behind those guys from a physical standpoint. I think he's still overcoming that shoulder injury from a mental standpoint. It's not that he's doing anything wrong. He's a good player and he can and will help us. It's just that those guys are a little better right now."
Devils Digest: Can you talk about the other newcomers battling for a spot in the two-deep in Marion Pollard and Solomon Means?
Joe Lorig: "Those guys are doing a great job and can help us on special teams. Anytime you are going to win a championship, you need at least four and sometimes six corners to do it."
Joe Lorig: "It's daily competition and it's not like the quarterback position where the decision you make will affect your whole offense. We might make a decision on the starter on game day. They both have kept the competition going with how they have kicked but it was also kind of pre-planned to keep the competition going because it will only make both of them better. Both guys have some bright spots and both guys have some stuff to work on, namely consistency."
Devils Digest: I overheard you the other day nicknaming field goal kicker Zane Gonzalez ‘Ice Man' and with him converting 90 or so percent of his kicks in practice that moniker is justified…
Joe Lorig: "Yes, he has been very good. I have all the confidence in the world in him but now it's just a matter of going out there and doing it. You never know what you're going to do until you experience that game day atmosphere and go ahead and do it. But I have a lot of confidence that he will be great.
"We went out and signed him late. Coach Graham wanted to get a point scorer because it was a position that we really wanted to upgrade, and obviously we wouldn't sign a player unless we thought he was really good. So we were exhaustive in our recruiting efforts, and while I don't pay much attention to rankings he was 4th or 5th in the country. He was offered by us and Wisconsin. He turned down a scholarship offer in Nevada which shows me what his confidence level was. He felt he was better than that and Nevada is a very good program. I love his confidence, I know you can't shake him and again I know he can do it but again now it's up to him to do it starting Thursday night."
Devils Digest: Looking at the return game, you are utilizing some of the best playmakers on offense. How content are you with that aspect?
Joe Lorig: "I'm very excited about the kick returners. You have two of the best running backs in the country in D.J. Foster and Marion Grice and that's good because it's hard to know who to kick to. You feel like you're dammed if you do and dammed if you don't. At punt return we have Richard Smith, Alden Darby, Robert Nelson and Damarious Randall when he's healthy. Just like the punting competition, we have to make sure we have consistency here, namely no dropped balls."
Devils Digest: Usually when talking about special teams not a lot of discussion is given to the coverage units. What are you thought on those groups?
Joe Lorig: "I think we have done a good job with that. So much of the coverage team is dependent on the kicker or the punter, that's one thing a lot of people don't realize when they are watching a game. So those players are a critical element. But either way I know our guys will play hard, I know they will play with discipline and be penalty free and that is what is important."