One-on-One with Marcel Yates sits down with Marcel Yates to discuss what the defense will look like, who has impressed, and more. Obvious question, how has camp gone?

Marcel Yates: We got out of it healthy, which is always great. Guys got better. We got the schemes in, so the schemes are all in, at least the concepts. There will be some changes, but we have got every concept in we’re going to use this season. Week to week there will be a different blitz here, different blitz there maybe, but the concepts are i.

WA: Every defensive guy I talk to mentions intensity. What is that a reflection of?

Yates: It’s a reflection Coach Rodriguez and then it’s a reflection of me and our defensive staff. What happened with Coach Rod is that when he brought us in I think it gave him some energy to get even more involved with the defense and say more and I think he has been more involved.

The one thing we both want and the one thing we both have common ground in is what we want the defense to look like. People need to understand, he hired a mentality. He hired somebody that has his mentality. We’re not the same people, but we want to have a physical, disciplined, running to the ball defense. Period, point blank.

WA: How hard did he have to work to get you here?

Yates: I will never let him know. It happened. I’m here and that’s the most important thing. I probably could have made him sweat a little bit more, but I don’t like to do things like that. When it all happened was during recruiting season and it was a weird part of recruiting season.

What I didn’t want to do is have to go into a kid’s home with Boise State and I didn’t want to go into a kid’s home acting like I was going to be at Boise State and three days later be at Arizona. I had to do it pretty fast because I didn’t want to go through that where I am sitting in somebody’s home knowing I might be leaving the next day or in two days. I would rather not go and then just tell the kid the reason I’m not there.

WA: Personnel wise, was it what you expected?

Yates: It’s good and bad. There are certain spots you are okay with and certain spots you know we need to get better at. That’s just based upon philosophies and what you want on your defense. For the guys here in the past, it might fit exactly what they want.

For me, we need to get a lot better in certain spots. When I say better, I am talking about depth. I think we have the players right now to be successful, but going back to last year, you have a couple key injuries and it could change everything. You want to be able to build that depth where even with injuries you will be okay and to me, you then have something special.

WA: The defensive line is excited because they have been saying they finally get to rush the quarterback. Do you notice an increased excitement with everyone?

Yates: I would say so. Anytime you are on defense, you want to attack. However, there are going to be times where they’re not rushing the quarterback and they need to be in their gaps or running a stunt or whatever they need to be doing. The hardest thing for me is that because there are so many different concepts, they probably have to learn a little more.

Once they get it, they will be fine. One thing we don’t want and Coach Rodriguez was very clear with this, is we don’t want those guys out there thinking too much. We want them to be able to learn the system and play hard fast. You want to implement and get your system in, but you also don’t want it to reach the point where you have too much in.

WA: I know you won’t give details, but how similar will this be to what you ran at Boise?

Yates: Probably not much, maybe a little. The reason why is because there are different teams we are playing. The one common team is probably BYU, but they’re different. If it was the BYU staff from last year, I would know what was coming, but it’s a new staff. The offensive coordinator was in high school, the offensive line coach hasn’t coached for a while. 

WA: It’s a weird game.

Yates: I’m getting curveballs. I’m getting sliders. I’m getting a lefty out of the bullpen. I am going to get everything. 

WA: Are there any freshmen sticking out or in good position to play?

Yates: I wouldn’t say good position to play because we don’t know yet. Sticking out are Tristan Cooper, Lorenzo Burns, Jalen Cochran, and Francisco Nelson. 

WA: These freshmen are the best players on their high school team. Do you make it a point to get rid of their ego right away?

Yates: I think it kind of works itself out. if you have maybe a super, super five-star all-world that is expecting to come in and start right away, it might be an issue. When you have a kid that is just coming in and even though he might be a superstar, I think once they get here and see how fast and how strong and how fast things are going, the ones that can pick it up are the ones that will play early and the ones kind of overwhelmed with the speed of the game and how fast things go off the field are the ones that struggle.

It all depends on the kid. I think with guys coming in early and going through summer training, that helps a lot. They aren’t homesick, they know people, have been around the city before, so it helps out.

WA: First game is in less than two weeks. Is the defense where you want it to be at this point?

Yates: No.

WA: Is it ever?

Yates: No. I have never been apart of a team where 14 days from the game, we are where we need to be. Once the game gets here, we will be there. They need to get in their regular routine with school and all that, but we still have a ways to go.

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