Q&A with Chip Long
Devils Digest: When preseason camp started, you wanted to be at a certain point with just days before the season opener. How do you feel about the tight ends group as far as achieving the goals that you set forward in preseason camp? Chip Long: “I feel really good. I’m really excited; I think all the guys took a major step forward. Kody Kohl has done a great job leading the group. Just came out and really had a great camp, busted his tail in the weight room all summer and didn’t step there, had an unbelievable camp, so I expect big things out of him. De’Marieya Nelson also, I expect big things out of. Then having Grant [Martinez] and our young freshman Brendan Landman coming along, it’s added good depth for us, which something we’ve never really had. I’m excited about that.” Devils Digest: De’Marieya’s been is somewhat of a tough situation bouncing between offense and defense, how hard has it been for you as his position coach just dealing with that situation ? Chip Long: “It’s not (difficult). He’s been with me for a long time so we just meet a whole lot more than we usually would, but he comes over there and gets all this third down stuff, then he comes over here. So he doesn’t miss a whole lot, and he has a good feel for what we’re doing. You know, it’s all the little things just getting him ready to go, but I don’t worry about it.” Devils Digest: So what are the expectations for Thursday as far as how many snaps he will get at tight end versus Devil backer? Chip Long: “He’s going to play a lot more tight end and in situations go over on defense and help if they need him, so that’s kind of how I see it. Now a lot of it can change and that’s ok because a lot of those other guys have come on so we’ll keep rolling.” Devils Digest: Sometimes when a player plays a lot on defense and then comes back on offense, he becomes a better player just because of their understanding of the other side of the ball. Do you feel like that’s happening with Nelson? Chip Long: “I do. I believe it has helped him. It’s helped build his whole view of the game and he gets it. But right now it’s about getting reps and getting his timing down with the quarterbacks and all that. So that’s all you worry about from losing him a lot, but he’s a physical player and loves to play so I don’t expect it to be a drawback at all.” Devils Digest: Kody Kohl is someone you mentioned earlier and is someone who’s had a lot of hard luck his first few years, but now that he’s healthy we’ve got to see what he can do. What are some encouraging things you’ve seen about Kody besides the leadership you mentioned? Chip Long: “Just his knowledge of the game. He’s been with me for three years now so he has a pretty good understanding of the offense. There are obviously a lot of things we need to clean up, but he’s really confident right now and being a playmaker for us. His total confidence has been so much higher than it’s ever been and that’s what’s so exciting for me.” Devils Digest: Grant Martinez is coming off his redshirt freshman year. Can you talk about his development throughout camp? Chip Long: “Grant’s done a great job. He’s really improving his footwork, and a lot of that started in the summer too with Grant, just getting in the weight room, attacking, he’s a lot stronger, which makes him a lot more confident. It’s still a growing process for him right now. He’s still underweight, we’ve got to build that up, and we’ll find a spot for him where he can contribute.” Devils Digest: Brendan Landman is one recruit that really went under the radar, but obviously the staff believed in him and started recruiting him as somebody that’s wasn’t going to redshirt. That’s still going to be the case this season? Chip Long: “Oh absolutely, he’s going to play and play a big role in our offense this year.” Devils Digest: What kind of role in specific to envision for him? Chip Long: “Just our heavy sets when we need a short yardage, goal line guy. Then obviously two-tight end, three-tight end packages as well. Then just getting him better and better, understanding the offense and keep growing him.” Devils Digest: When you mention depth at tight end, you really can’t leave out Dan Vear, a junior college walk-on who has surprised a lot of people… Chip Long: “Dan’s been doing a great job for us; he’s on scout team right now, and giving us a great look. We’re really excited about Dan in the coming future, getting him stronger and adjusting him to the speed of this game, but he’s done a great job.” Devils Digest: So he’s probably going to redshirt? Chip Long: “Possibly.” Devils Digest: With the depth at tight end, you should be able to do as many two-tight end sets as last year. That should not really change… Chip Long: “Yes we want to do a lot of the stuff we did last year and add more guys in to it too. It keeps everyone on the heels, but the only way you can do that is by making plays and they’ve got to go out there and make it happen.” Devils Digest: Do you feel like with an improved offense line, your tight ends will also challenge in their own way to be just as good as run blockers as the offensive lineman? Chip Long: “Yes, that’s a major challenge every year. We want to be the most physical group out there and it all starts right there. If you’re not doing that, you’re not going to play. But if you have that mindset, you’ll be a great receiver; you’ll be a big time playmaker. So it all starts there in the trenches.” Devils Digest: What kind of goals do you want this tight end group to achieve throughout the year to make it a successful season? Chip Long: “I just want to win a championship. I can’t put any goals on them because I haven’t seen them play a game yet, but I expect them to go out there confident and execute at a high level and be physical. That’s my goal for them. Whatever else happens, that’s great.”
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