I was privileged enough to work with Jeff today and picked up some notes from the talks today
-Really reiterated that "It's my school man!" to the Mizzou rumor. Said there is nothing to it.
-Again stated that an Access Bowl is the goal, only variable is time. In that pursuit we need to be continually improving our facilities, recruiting, and budget.
-Past 2018, we're still working to nail down the schedules in football. Said that Zvocec is working on that and fields calls daily about offers.
-Mentioned that Strength of Schedule talk for the CFP has helped us with our "advanced-training" games. Our increased profile is why Alabama is paying us so much. In the other direction, lower tier P5 schools don't want to schedule someone who isn't an easy win. There are also some G5 schools who have said they will not play us (mainly AAC and C-USA), the MWC is much more open to playing against us. However, Terry mentioned that he really wants to schedule home-and-home games regionally, so that fans can travel.
-Interesting note, Terry talked to JD McKissic, and the veterans on the Falcons voted him into a specific locker, was the only UDFA that got that treatment.
-Doesn't think that the experience brings any added pressure to the OL, because "Pressure comes when you're unprepared".
-All the guys who missed Spring have been cleared and because they have played so many snaps, that missing the Spring reps shouldn't be as big of a negative as it would in another situation. In fact, Rudolph mentioned that it was blessing in disguise as a lot of young guys got quality reps against really good competition. This helps him feel better about depth moving forward.
-Guys who were mentioned who we could see move around the depth chart: Alex Novak, Dalton Ford, Cam Davis, Brandon Berg, and Robert Maxwell. Berg and Maxwell he mentioned as guys who played some last year. Also called Maxwell a guy who he could stick in and be okay with.
-On dealing with the pace of play and practice: Said that it's like a couple who is going to have a baby talking to others who have had them. You can't get them totally prepared for it, but you can tell them about it. They have to experience it for themselves to get used to it.
-He would love to have one feature back who gets the lion's share of the carries, but with the pace that we want to play with, need to be able to rotate to keep them fresh. Would love to be able to identify a top three, but if they can help in special teams, or have specific packages, the coaches could play more. A lot of it will deal with game management of players.
-Armond Weh Weh is in camp and will hit the field tomorrow morning.
-Said he thought that everyone who was here in the Spring looked fairly well rounded, meaning that their receiver skills and blocking had come along to where they weren't a liability.
-Leapheart has been there and done that as far as being a DI TE.
-Mack is a great addition, bringing wide receiver skills to the position. Needs to work on his blocking.
-Jonah Hill is a "thumper" who has what Dodd likes to call "contact courage" which means he's not afraid to block.
-Avery Johnson says he feels comfortable in his new role after moving over at the beginning of Summer, but it will be in pads where that will be judged. Good athlete there though. Playing defense has helped him with his "contact courage"
-Excited to see what the "new toys" can do in the offense.
-As fast and explosive as we were at WR last year, said that his year is on another level.
-As a punter, that Cameron Echols-Luper presents a match up problem, and that he has a legitimate shot to be our punter on Sept. 2.
-The true depth at CB is to be determined, but he's excited to see the competition with his guys.
-Names he mentioned as possibly shaking up the depth chart at CB: Chris Humes, Nehemiah Wagner, Brandon Byner, Jeremy Smith, and Kyle Martin
-Said that Gildersleeve will be in but may have to wait on a transcript before he practices (Austin Copeland and Sterling Wright had the same thing when they came in)
-Said that special teams experience as freshmen really gets the guys in his room ready for the speed of the game.
Allen "Bo" Sentimore
-Bo is a nickname, got it two years ago.
-Said his ankle feels good, and that he was so frustrated last year that he's ready to get back out there.
-He said that he talks to everyone on the team to get them focused and playing better (I witnessed this last year when he was hurt, he would be on crutches urging on DBs, WRs, DL...anyone) said his voice carries weight with the team (backed up by coaches).
-He's ready to play. Glad for the fresh start.
-Transferred to low playing time at Alabama, and uses that as motivation to drive him forward.
-Welcomes the high expectations that come with being a high recruit and coming from a high profile program.
-Says that AState is great place for anyone to come, not just transfers, but sees why it is so good for transfers.
-The transition to a new team is going really well.
-Said the offensive talent is as good or better than Pittsburgh
-The transition in the offense has been smooth as it doesn't deal with as much material as the previous offenses he played in (Four different offenses in Five years) however the speed at which he processes information is much higher in this offense.
-Staying in the playbook really eased the transition last year as he came in just as camp started.
-Said he's trying to help the new teammates who are in the same situation as he was last year, coming in as camp began.
-Ankle is feeling better and he has been cleared. Running and doing some lateral jumps, and will see how it goes in camp.
Apache and Bojo's takeaway on positions
We sat down and went over what we got on and off the record from each coach and player, analyzed our notes and came up with some takeaways on these positions.
This will be a two man race pretty quickly, we think they'd like to redshirt Bonner and Pearson doesn't seem to be consistent enough. After stating that he'd like to name a starter at least 10 days out from Toledo, the battle may drag through the start of school unless someone just wins the job outright early.
With Weh Weh in and McKenzie liking all the scholarship backs, there could be as many as five contribute (Weh Weh, Wand, White, Jamal Jones, and DRD, who he was high on for his pass blocking which seemed to be the weak point early in Spring ball).
The top three are pretty well set. What remains to be seen is if Avery Johnson can contribute as a special teamer or a 4th TE.
Paschall says they like to travel 8, maybe 9. That figures to be a pair of outside WRs at each spot, a pair of A-Backs, and a guy who can back up at either outside spot then one who can back up at the A. The final two usually need to work at special teams to advance their chances. Most interesting take away is that the #1 A-Back when camp starts tomorrow morning is Sterling Stowers, NOT Cameron Echols-Luper. A lot of names could see reps in camp as the slots fill themselves.
The starting five from last year, seem to be set as the starting five for this year. Past that, the rest of the depth chart will work itself out throughout the camp. With a lot of new faces will be interesting to see if that shakes things up.
Probably the most stable part of the team, with Mondie back and if his business gets taken care of, means we are at least 4-deep at each DL position.
With so many young guys there, don't be surprised if a few names from other positions move through there as depth. As far as linebacker goes, the depth is pretty good, so may see some bump for some time at Nickel just to build more depth.
Cornerback will be an interesting position to watch throughout camp, as there are a lot of options, though not many with a ton of experience there. At safety, there is not as much concern with 3-4 upperclassmen to man the positions.
Seems that JD Houston will definitely get the first crack to retain the job, best guess is that Sawyer Williams will be his back up (and may attempt longer FGs).
With the stronger leg of the two, Williams will get first try.
This may be one of the more interesting battles of camp and with Mark pointing out that for all of our offensive prowess last year, we punted more than anytime in the last eight seasons, a very important battle. Damon Foncham, Cameron Echols-Luper, and JD Houston all will get looks (Houston mostly as an emergency punter) and we're still looking at bringing a high schooler from South Carolina.
Blaise and CEL will get first crack, but with the amount of speed on this team, a lot of guys may be used at some point.
NOTE: All practices save for the Fan Appreciation Day will be at 8:50 AM, so set your alarm clocks.