Swinney Laying the Law

We caught up with one of the top new coaches on the Tigers' staff after practice to get the complete scoop on Roscoe Crosby and the rest of the Tigers' wide outs. "I told Roscoe just like I told everybody else in our group- if you are the best guy, I don't care who you are, or what the magazines say about you, be the best guy on the field, it's that simple."

Will Roscoe Crosby play early in the year for you?
Swinney:I told Roscoe just like I told everybody else in our group- if you are the best guy, I don't care who you are, or what the magazines say about you, or what you did last year, if you are going to be best guy, be the best guy on the field, it's that simple. The thing I ask out of my guys is great effort, intensity, and adjustment. Those things have nothing to do with talent. Now if you take a guy that's got great talent and he's giving you those things, then you are going to have a special kind of player. That's pretty much the minimum for me, as long as he's willing to do that, then I think he'll be fine and there's a job out there for him, but he has to earn it. I think if you throw him out there before he's earned it or before he's mentally ready, then you've made a mistake. He's got two weeks to make up and he's a little behind.

What's been the reaction of the other wide receivers with Crosby in the mix?
Swinney: I think everybody's excited. Competition creates the kind of environment as a coach. You find out what guys are made of and who's going to step up. Roscoe is a guy that's going to challenge some people and that's what you want. I'll take all the great receivers I can get, bring them on.

Which position is he going to play, the X or Y-receiver?
Swinney: We have to take a long look at the depth chart and figure all of that out. We'll probably start him out at the X, just because the one he can learn the quickest. That would be the easiest position for us to plug him in right now. I think we've got great competition with our 2-receiver set with Hamilton and Currie, and that will give us a little more competition at the X-spot with Youngblood and Baham. I've got be careful about where I'm plugging him to make sure we give him the best opportunity to be successful. With his skill level and his overall athletic ability- he'll be fine.

What kind of shape is he in?
Swinney: I would have been disappointed if he would have reported sloppy and out of shape. He's in decent shape. It's one thing to run around in shorts out here on a cool evening and it's another to put on the full pads and everything in the middle of the day and scrimmage 60-snaps. That will be the true test, but he's a pro-athlete in another sport, I expect him to come out here in decent shape, and he is. He's raw, he's just kind of an athlete running around, so we've got to get him polished and make him a good receiver again.

Realistically, how quick can he come back?
Swinney: Well, we are going to go on his pace, like I told him, we've got a lot of time we are going to make up, and a lot of time to spend together. The good thing for him is that even though he's missed a lot of installation, we are going to start gameplanning now. So, he can just begin to focus on a gameplan, instead of the whole playbook. We'll just take it week by week, but we'll go at his pace. How quick that is, I don't know, but I'll have a better feel after I spend a couple of days with him.

The perception is on Roscoe Crosby is that he was a great player coming in from high school, can you give us the reality?
Swinney: Well I'd be disappointed if that was the case because I think we have a lot of good players here, we have an outstanding group. So it's a challenge for the guys at the position when you have a talented man come in, but it's also a challenge for Roscoe. We've got some good players. Derrick Hamilton, Airese, Grant, Baham, we've got good solid football players at the position. Roscoe's got some work to do, but that's what it's all about. There's competition at every position on our football team, and receiver is no different. Nobody is going to lay down and say here's a job, he's got to earn it.

Even if he's not ready for Georgia totally, do you try to get him some snaps in there just to get him readjusted?
Swinney: Hopefully, if he can help the team. I don't believe in putting anybody out there that isn't ready to play. If he can help us win, then you better believe he'll play. If he's the best guy, lets get him out there and lets go. We'll see what he does the next couple of weeks during practice. He's a mature kid, and he's had to grow up a lot quicker than most 19, or 20-year-old guys, and he's handling things just fine.

As a position coach, how do you deal with the sensitivity factor with guys coming out here during the spring and summer now having to compete with a new player?
Swinney: Well, there's two ways to look at it. One way is that you don't want to penalize Roscoe because he hasn't been here, his situation is different than a guy who just chose not to be here. This guy is a professional athlete and he's a first or second round draft pick in a pro sport. These other guys don't have that situation. He can't be penalized from that standpoint, but at the same time, he can't be just because he's a great athlete you can't just put him out there. That's the biggest thing with chemistry, every football team in America has guys on it that think they are getting the shaft, but the problem is when the players know that player is getting the shaft. As long as you are fair and consistent chemistry is not a problem when you've got great players. If he comes out here and wins the job then the team will not have a problem at all because he will have proven it on the practice fields. You know the film doesn't lie. What you put on film is how you evaluate it. I love all of these guys; we are a family. It's not personal, but my job is to put the guys on the field that are the best guys. I don't care if it's a walk-on like Gene Pate, Ryan Charpia, or Derrick Hamilton. It doesn't matter to me, I just want the guys on the field that will give us the best chance to win. They have to play hard every snap, play hard without the ball, play hard with the ball, and make plays.

Has he missed anything at all in preparation for the Georgia game next week?
Swinney: Well, yes and no. He's missed a ton of the offense. He's not getting the same kind of foundation that everybody else has gotten. The "no" to that is that we will start gameplanning tomorrow (Tuesday) and really focus in on what exactly we are going to do to attack Georgia. The thing is that it's not like he's never played college. He played a year and I expect him to pick things up, but we've changed so much from what we were doing two years ago, system wise and how we are organized and how we operate. With a lot of one-on-one time, I think he'll pick up things faster. The timing here was critical because if he would have come in here this Saturday....I have to get guys ready to play that following week and that wouldn't have been possible.

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