Quick Hits with Coach Burns
Easy Transition for Brad Scott
Coach Lovett Eyes Wake Forest
O'Cain Discusses New Role
Bowden Discusses Trip to Norman
Quick Hits with Coach Swinney
Quick Hits with Coach Blackwell
It sounds like Coach Bowden is really expecting a lot of production from the running backs this year. Can you see that from this group based on what you saw in the spring?
Burns: Well I think we had a productive spring across the board, but there are three guys that really stand out. I think those are the guys that are in position to help us win games if we played one tomorrow. But there's a lot to be done between now and the first game in September. We've got the guys back here in summer school, and they are working hard in class, and they have an opportunity to get together and workout and try to get ready for the upcoming season.
Take us through the depth chart right now as it stands heading into fall practice.
Burns: Well, I think you want to start off with a guy that was really productive for us last year in Duane Coleman. You expect him to be better this year of course. Duane is probably our most consistent receiver in the backfield. Last year I think inexperience hurt him. We are looking for him to show marked improvement this year. I think the thing with him last year is that he was trying to make something happen on every single play. He became a smarter runner in the spring. Yusef Kelly is a guy that obviously everyone knows and we've been waiting for him to be our prototypical back in this offense. Last season he has hampered by a variety of things, he was working through some personal things and injuries, but he's got things moving in the right direction. He had a good spring and I think you are going to see some things out of Yusef this year. He's at the point in his career where he should be able to help us win games this year. He's been in the program now for 5 years. Reggie Merriweather is the wildcard. Overall, Reggie has the potential to be probably better than both of those guys in the long run, but the thing with Reggie is with his consistency and his overall game. Again, in the spring, we all always felt comfortable with Reggie as far as a ball carrier. He's got to work on some things and some techniques that he wasn't real comfortable with last year. But if we had to play tomorrow, I'd feel real comfortable putting any of those guys in there. They are fighting to be a starter. The fourth guy would be Brandon Nolen. He's got a ton of potential, but he's real inexperienced. We redshirted him last year, but it's just a matter of him getting on the field. Obviously the thing that's hurting him is that he's got three guys ahead of him. I think in the long run, he'll be a good back for us. We are going to try to get him ready.
Is Brandon Nolen faster than Reggie Merriweather?
Burns: If you put them on a track, yes he is. Brandon was a top sprinter coming out of high school, and I think the thing with him is that he's big and powerful, but he's inexperienced. He needs to get acclimated to the offense. We think he has the potential to be a good player for us.
Has Yusef Kelly done anything in your eyes to warrant consideration to be the starter this year? Did he make a push this spring to do that?
Burns: The thing that we were really pleased with this spring that all three were competing very hard against each other. All of those guys want to start. You saw that from Yusef because this is last year and he has extra motivation. It was obvious that he was really mentally staying focused on every single play.
It seemed like that some people maybe underestimating the value of a running back like Chad Jasmin last year. Who do you have that can step in for him, and is there a role in this offense for that type of back?
Burns: His role was kind of a unique thing in that it just kind of happened. We always felt good about Chad, he's always been a good football player for us, but we just didn't figure out how he fit into the offseason. We searched and searched for three or four years for his role in this offense, and then last year it was just something that fell into place for us. With the guys we've got coming back this year, they've got their own unique talent. They give us more of a threat. Yusef, Duane, and Reggie can give us some things that we haven't had as much in year's past.
What's the story on Kyle Browning? I know he's been moved from running back to cornerback, and then back to running back. Where does he fit in this year for you?
Burns: I think we are going to get Kyle back (at running back). He's such a good football player. He's someone that we really depended on last year. We knew that if we needed him to run for us last year, he'd be ready. He's just a competitive and consistent football player. You have to remember that we are trying to get our 11 best guys on the field here on offense and defense, so we gave him the opportunity to play cornerback some this spring. If he can help us, then he could be someone that could help give Tye Hill and Justin Miller a breather. I think the experiment was good, but at the same time, he's probably better helping us out at running back. You can never have enough good running backs. Kyle will be a guy that we get him ready to go.
Will this season be a situation where you are utilizing the talents of Charlie Whitehurst to help set up the running game, instead of vice versa?
Burns: Obviously, Charlie is the guy that makes the offense click. As running backs, we want to play around him. Our approach has always been to take what the defense gives us. With the threat of Charlie to be a consistent passer, it does open up things for us in the running game, but the thing is, you never know. You never know from week-to-week what the defense is going to give you. The thing we have to do is week in and week out is to understand that and understand that the offense goes around him.