Can you get anything out of your first practice and if so, what is it?
Well, I think you certainly can, and I tell you, the one thing I tell our kids, it’s hard a little bit when you go split practice but that first group today that I watched practice. I thought, the challenge that I gave our football team about preparation, understanding what we tried to do in the spring and where we ended spring practice to where we begin fall camp, I thought there was great execution today, I thought there was certainly a higher level of comfort in what we were asking our kids to do on both sides of the ball and you could tell our kids really worked through the summer so I really appreciated that. So I think that’s the biggest telling point at this early stage.
What true freshman have you pinpointed early that could contribute right away?
Yeah, now that one I think, is really tough right now. The thing I do know is, we’re really excited about this freshman class and it’s nice that that group got to be in here at the beginning of June so we have seen two months of them and I think it’s a group across the board that can compete, especially with our situation where the depth within our football program has to continue to get better. I think this a group that we feel like there’s guys within this group that can do that but until they go out and practice and sustain some success here, it’ll be hard to know that answer here for about a week or two but I can tell you we’re really excited about this class and they showed why they are a special group coming in. Their work ethic has been outstanding.
Do you envision a group of them possibly contributing though?
Well I’m not afraid to play the best players. And I think we started fall camp with the message last night that the best players are going to play whether you’re a senior or a freshman. It’s the guy that can consistently do what we ask them to do and we have great trust and faith that they’’ do what we ask them to do. Again, that’s me being honest and that’s me, kind of, how we run our program, the best players play and if it so happens they’re the best players out of fall camp then they’re certainly going to help contribute and help our football team.
Marchie Murdock and Justin Stewart are on the roster officially now, what do you guys get in those two late summer additions?
Yeah, I think that’s big for us and then obviously, Mackenro is another one. That’s three guys that I think all have -- the one nice thing about all those guys is, there is video tape evidence that they can have success at the collegiate level. Whether that translates, what have they done since they’ve gotten here, where we couldn’t be with them, we’ll wait and see what that looks like here as we get into practice. The thing I appreciate is they all look like they’re in really great shape and they all look like they’ve worked really hard to get themselves here and put themselves in a position to come in and compete so again, it’s nice to have guys that have video tape evidence at the collegiate level of having success.
What’s been your biggest challenge adjusting here at Iowa State so far this early…?
I don’t know. To me, the only challenge for me is the ability to continue to develop the program and the culture of our program. And any time - I said this a couple times -- any time that your program hasn’t had success, we have to re-elevate the standards of what it looks like to come on day in and day out whether it’s in the weight room, whether it’s practice and then to consistently do those actions. So that’s tough, that’s not easy to do but that’s something that’s been our greatest challenge as we’ve challenged our football team.
Is there anything specifically you’re looking at trying improve when you’re looking at what’s going on in camp?
Well, everything. I think obviously, it’s all a matter of challenging to improve, improve our effort, improve our attitude, things that take no talent to be able to control and then obviously, improve in terms of our skill development across the board whether it’s special teams, defense, offense, so there’s a lot of work to be done, we know that, we’ve said that and obviously I looking forward to being back on the field with these guys to be able to do that.
What did it mean to see Mitchell Myers back out there actually practicing?
Yeah, I was just talking with Coach Rasheed on our way over here, just talking to him a little bit during stretch lines when we were out at practice and then watching the video tape already a little bit of what he did at practice, I’ll tell you, I’m really impressed. It meant a lot to me but I know it meant a lot to this football team to see 58 out there running around and active and not just being a guy out on the football field, but being a guy that matters out on the football field and that’s great to see.
Matt, part of that elevating the program thing, how much does that factor into you being so hands on on the field, coaching the quarterback drills, line drills, working with the tight ends, that stuff?
I don’t know. I think we’re all really active. That’s the one thing you’re going to find from our staff is, we’re all involved, we’re all active. I think when you come watch practice, it’s not just one guy yelling and screaming, it’s all of us in terms of actively being involved in development or players and again, that’s where, it’s great to be really good recruiters, that’s one thing, but the thing that’s really important in any program, it’s not about recruiting, it’s about developing the players within your program. And that’s one thing that I really stress that on our own coaches is be great developers, give these kids the tools in the tool belt to go be successful whether it’s me doing it or being actively involved but our coaches being actively involved. And I think, one thing I’ve always told our coaches is coaching is teaching and I think our coaches are really good teachers.
Along that line, I noticed Ayeni a few times talking, doing some things with Lazard, I mean, he’s got nothing to do with Lazard unless Lazard’s going to be a running back --
I think the biggest thing you’ll see with us is, we’re constantly allowing all of our coaches to coach the different position groups. Lou, what’s Allen do? Allen’s got to carry the football and you’ll see us even at times, if you’re out at practice, our defensive guys will come over and get coached by our offensive guys, how we take care of the football, how we hold the football and same thing with our offensive guys, they’ll go down with our defensive guys and tackling and how we tackle because they’re going to play on special teams and have to do some of those things, so again, to me, it’s all hands on deck. It’s our entire coaches coaching all of our players, not just hey, you’re the running backs coach and that’s all you talk to. It’s kind of an all in approach from our end.
Does the whole split-squad practice kind of facilitate that?
Yeah I think it does, at least early on. My biggest thing and I was talking to Randy early on about the split practice, we’ve done this all the way back in our days, when I was at Mount Union, we had 330 kids that we had to get through practice and what I love about split practice and doing this is, it gives our kids the ability to learn. Kids learn by doing, kids don’t learn by sitting in a meeting room just sitting there drawing up plays. And so, it allows guys to get reps. They’re not super long practices, as you kind of saw today, so they’re more of short, to the point and then gives us the opportunity to evaluate our kids and gives us a chance to really let kids show what they’ve done what kind of improvement have they made, especially as we’ve come in early on, we’re still trying to evaluate this football team.
Demond Tucker, I know he wasn’t in pads for that --
Demond is 100-percent fine. He had the flu a little bit last week, we’re going to be really smart in how fast we bring Demond back. I expect him to probably be out of practice tomorrow, so just trying to be smart with him.
Nigel Tribune, any update there?
No, right now, it is as I left it, he’s indefinitely suspended from the team and I think we’ll address it at a later date as we continue to get the details and see what happens with Nigel.
I know you’ve been getting ready for this for a long time, practice is finally here, fall camp, how much fun is this for you and do you try to have that enthusiasm spill over to everybody?
Yeah I hope so. I think football is still a really fun game. To me, it’s about going to camp and I love this. This is my favorite time of year because this is when you can really coach and teach. It’s like I told our kids last night, we don’t have school right now to deal with. You get about 2, 2 ½, almost 3 weeks where it’s just football and this is a really fun time of year cause that’s all you have to worry about is that so I love this time of year, obviously the excitement, I think everybody in the country is excited about their football team right? But it’s about the development piece and really teaching, how far we’ve come, so it’s a great time of year for us.
You’ve been impressed with Nedden and your other kicker during spring ball, is that a legit competition or is that right now, is that kind of Cole’s to lose?
Well, I think everybody across the board is a legit competition. It’s so hard for us, not having been here or any preconceived notion. Again, Chris had a really good spring, Cole’s got great talent and Cole had a really great spring, so we’ll continue to see what that competition looks like. I think everybody at every position right now, it’s open, and you hope guys that you have high expectations for meet those expectations.
Chase Allen going to be restricted at all when you guys go full pads?
With him, are you amazed at how quickly he was able to come back?
Yeah, he’s really lucky to be honest with you. It was a scary situation. Nobody’s fault, just a fluke thing that happened and he’s just really fortunate and really blessed that he didn’t get himself in a great, serious injury.
Why is it important to practice things such as recovering the football and the form of recovering the football? I noticed a lot of the defensive guys working on that.
Well I think you saw a lot of practice today revolved around, we call, it’s the win the 12th drill. And that’s teaching and understanding the ability to create that turnover margin and obviously, if you look at us last year as an Iowa State football team, we were -11, dead last in the conference. It’s really hard to win football games when you don’t win the turnover margin. And those are things that – again, it doesn’t take any stellar offense, it doesn’t take any stellar defense to be able to do those things so you’re going to see us, that’s a constant, we’re going to do it every practice and every day, talk about it and work at creating turnovers and doing a great job taking care of the football.
What are some of the drills you do to, I guess, create those turnovers and stop them?
Lot of it is circuit drill, just working at, defensively, a lot of the techniques, whether we’re punching the ball out, whether it’s how to recover a fumble, whether it’s how to intercept the ball, offensively, how to do we hold the football, how do you go through traffic? All those kinds of things. We try to create as many situational areas as we look back, studied why did we fumble the ball? Why did we turn it over? Why didn’t we create that turnover? And then try to replicate those situations and put our guys in situations to kind of do that on the football field.