Interview with Coach Jeff Monken

Will Roddy Jones be ready for the Jacksonville State game, who will be the punter for the opening game, what progress have the backs made in the preseason camp, these and other questions were answered by Coach Jeff Monken following today's practice.

How much progress have the a-backs made in the preseason camp?

"Our guys are tired. They're not moving as fast as they were at the beginning of camp when their legs were fresh. I hope we get that back. I'm pleased; I think we're coming along. Orwin Smith has been a nice surprise for us. I think he has a chance to help us. Anthony Allen is a nice addition that we didn't have last year. We'll miss Roddy Jones in the first game and hopefully we'll have him back shortly."

Is it nice to have bigger backs this season like Allen and Smith as opposed to last year when you only had Cox?

"Backs that are bigger and can run are better. That doesn't mean there's not a place for players like Embry Peeples and Marcus Wright. They had good camps. Embry in particular did a nice job all through camp. He's really getting a good feel for the offense. I'd like for all of them to block better. That's probably the area where we're least consistent. Having a bigger guy when you're blocking certainly helps. I think if Anthony and Orwin can be consistent on where to go and who to block can really help us there as well as breaking tackles where a smaller back may not be as good in doing those things."

How is not being able to take part in all the drills going to affect Roddy's play?

"When he comes back, I don't have any doubt that he'll know where to go. Having started all thirteen games for us last year, he'll know where to go and what to do. He's such a smart conscientious kid that he'll know his assignments. It's going to be the conditioning part and the contact part that he's going to have to get used to. I'm sure he'll be a little out of shape. It doesn't matter how much you run on the side. It's not like playing. Just getting in the groove of getting down low and getting people on the ground is something he hasn't been able to do dragging that arm around. He's a good player and certainly we got a lot of production out of him last year."

If you could, would you like to get him some reps in the Jacksonville State game to get him ready for Clemson?

"I'd like to. I hope we can. I don't know if we'll be able to, but I hope we can. If we can, we'll certainly get him in the game."

What does Orwin Smith bring that you didn't have last year?

"He's a bigger kid. We played with Lucas last year and Roddy. I wouldn't necessarily call him a big guy. Marcus and Embry were smaller. To have a bigger guy is nice. He's a hard runner. He breaks tackles. He's run away from people. He's not afraid to block and he's very conscientious about things we're trying to coach him to do. We had a scrimmage early in camp and we got on to him about his effort. He was watching the play when he didn't have the ball. He's tried really hard to play with better effort and be a better blocker. He's been really conscientious to learn his assignments. He's going to have some busts. There's going to be some situations when you'd like to have an older more experienced guy in the game. He's a good runner with the ball. I think he can be different with the ball. I think that's where we'd like to get some mileage out of him."

When Roddy comes back, where will Orwin be in the scheme of things?

"He's going to be with the second string. He'll be in the ballgame early. We'll play Roddy, Anthony, Embry, Orwin, Lucas, and Marcus. They're the guys we can probably count on now. We're also working Robbie Godhigh some. He's had a good camp blocking and is getting better. We see some potential there. I think those six guys are the ones you'll see."

How is the punting competition shaping up?

"We really backed off with Blair to try and let him focus on kicking. We made it a race between Chandler Anderson, Kevin Crosby and Sean Poole. We had Anderson and Poole in camp and they both punted it good. I think we could punt either one of those guys. Chandler is probably the clear leader at this point. He's punted it well, so I think he'll be the punter going into the first game."

Will the long snapper position, with all things being equal, go to the upperclassman?

"I think right now Jeff Lentz is the snapper. He's been the most consistent. On a day-to-day basis, all of them have had their share of days when they weren't as good, but he's been consistent. He's been the most consistent in getting it back there with a nice tight spiral and in the right spot without throwing it on the ground and not throwing it over their head. We're going to go in the first game with him as the snapper. Tyler Morgan would be the backup in an emergency role at this point. He's a good snapper. He's got good velocity. He's going to be a really good player for us. I think Lentz is the better snapper right now.


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