WA: How mobile is Anu Solomon?
Rod Smith: He’s slippery. I tease him. If you clock him in the 40 he will probably run you 4.8 at his best. He’s more slippery, elusive than he is fast and that is a good trait.
WA: Is there a point in camp where you are watching Anu and you think to yourself, that’s my starter?
Rod Smith: No, I don’t want to say that because we want to make it a competition. You see things where you are like ‘okay, he can potentially be our guy.’ He has certain characteristics that we like, but to say that's our guy, we don’t want to put it that way.
It’s evaluated over practices and performance and done daily. He will be evaluated tomorrow and will be the starter on Saturday. Not to put pressure on him, but we want all our guys to play well and if you don’t play well, we will have other guys that are ready.
If he does, then he will be continue to be the starter. We told him not to look over his shoulder, but we will have other guys ready.
WA: When you recruited Anu out of high school, is this the progression you expected?
Rod Smith: We thought he could be pretty good and I think he is starting to come into his own. Now, he hasn’t played a game, so for me to say how good he is, it’s very premature.
From practice standards, he is starting to come in from what he hoped he could do and he still has a ways to go. He’s nowhere near a finished product. This kid is a redshirt freshman. I need to remember that and we need to remember that. He’s still a young pup, but he has a chance.
WA: Is that exciting knowing he is not a finished product?
Rod Smith: Absolutely. Any kid that is like that, there is more molding, there is more coaching to do and he has a long way to go. He’s progressed, he is night and day then what he was from the spring.
WA: He talks a lot about his calm demeanor and how he is trying to change that a bit, have you seen it?
Rod Smith: Maybe a little. You want a guy to be aggressive and take charge and there is good and bad to that. The bad is that you want to him to be more aggressive, you want him to be more vocal, you want him to take charge more.
The good is that when stuff goes bad, he doesn’t get fazed. When you get up in his tail, he doesn’t get fazed. There’s good and bad that comes with that and if he can accentuate what he needs to work on and become more of a leader, more of a voice of the offense, then he will be at the best of his ability.
When things go bad though, it is nice to have somebody that is not going to get shook and I don’t think he is going to get shook.
WA: How do you handle playbook stuff with a player starting his first game?
Rod Smith: Honestly, we won’t do a whole lot. There is quantity in the options and different things off of what we do in terms of the pass game, run game. There could be three or four different things going on.
They could run this route versus that coverage and break it off versus this coverage, so that’s where the comfort level and the quarterbacks and wideouts have to be on the same page. We don’t do a whole lot, but we have options.
WA: Is there any way to avoid nerves?
Rod Smith: No, I don’t think so. If you aren’t nervous, you are not a competitor. You know what the nerves are? The nerves are you don’t want to fail. If you knew you weren’t going to fail, would you be nervous?
If I’m playing a game, I don’t want to fail, so the nerves are going to be there. The more you prepare mentally, the less those nerves will be. You still have to go out there and do it on the field, but I think it is good to have the nerves because that is what is going to drive him.