"I am not going to suspend any of the three players for any games. They will be penalized and disciplined on some other issues, and I have volunteered them to help build a home for the 'Habitat for Humanity' on Sept. 11. They will pull a shift on that particular day. One, I think it's an opportunity for them to be in the community and show that we do in fact have good, young people on our team. Secondly, it reinforces our commitment to our community. Third, it reinforces to our team that if we put a side forward that is not as complimentary as we would like, we have to work hard to earn that back within the community."
Question: What do you expect to see from Northern Arizona?
Mackovic: "They do a lot of everything (on offense). They are very similar to us in the sense that they are multiple. What I will expect is that they will take some of the best things people did last year that they saw on film and try to use those against us.
"They came down here a couple of years ago and spent an extensive amount of time studying this defense, and they play it in its purest form. We will see the double-eagle flex on both sides of the ball with exactly the same lineups. They are making the same kinds of transitions that we have been talking about making. They will have a good idea about what to do and how to attack us, but I think that we will have a good idea as well."
Question: What players impressed you the most in camp? Who would you consider the most improved?
Mackovic: "Lance Relford has kind of been behind the scenes. He is our most flexible (receiver), and I really have been impressed and pleased with the way Lance has come on. Chris Johnson might be the No. 1 improvement on the offense. He always thought he was a guard, but I told him that he is a tackle. His arms are so long that he is a natural pass protector. If I were to pick one guy on defense, Ray Wells has shown as much improvement.
"Those guys (defensive line) have really come along. This is the most depth and the most size we've had up front. Carlos Williams is the guy who can do the most things of anybody. Carl (Tuitavuki) is going to have to play himself into the kind of playing shape because he came in and wasn't ready for this level. But, I think he will be able to do that since we don't have to play him all of the time."
Question: What is the status of the various special teams positions
Mackovic: "I would expect that Sean Keel would handle our PAT/field goal work, but Bobby Gill has been closer to him in practice than he was last year at this time. I'm not against giving him (Gill) the opportunity to kick as well if the opportunity presents itself. We are not necessarily having a competition for the sake of competition.
"On the other side, I think the competition at punter is very interesting. Ramey Peru came back to school and has not given up the fight to a young freshman who has been very impressive to people who have watched. Ramey has improved his hang time and distances, and he has battled to get his opportunities to handle that job as well. That will be more of a game-time decision, but I do expect that both Danny Baugher and Ramey Peru will be available to punt for us.
"Bobby Wade is going to be back for kickoffs and punts this year though not necessarily handling kickoffs all of the time. I want Gainus Scott and Mike Bell to be back there on the kick returns because I think both players can be explosive return men, and we are looking for more big plays from a year ago in those return units. No one is a lock at the start. Gary Love is likely to start there first, but gradually, I want to move Gainus and Mike in there to get more opportunities.
"We have extended our daily practice schedule for special teams every day this week in order for us to be ready at the beginning of the season. The biggest thing is to prevent teams from making the big play against us."
Question: How is the team different going into this opener than they were last year?
Mackovic: "We are far more comfortable about what to expect from each other this year. We've been able to move along. The players will have their noses to the grindstone all week, and I'll be grinding the wheel. We will get ready to play. We are going to go out and prepare to play the very best that we can each week. No one will take anything for granted."