Skladany: Going into the spring we had concerns with the spots of the seniors that we lost last year. We wanted to make sure that we could come out of spring feeling like we had established some starters at those spots.
We had LaMarcus Hicks who played quite a bit last year, and we moved him back to corner. We moved Adam Carper to SAM linebacker. We've had Matt Robertson and Jamarr Buchanan at the WILL backer. We've had Cephus Johnson at Shawn Moorehead (as defensive ends).
I think we have established right now a starting eleven. If anybody beats them out it would have to be from a J.C. kid or a freshman coming in. We have a starting unit that can play winning football.
CN: What are some particular strengths of this defense?
Skladany: I think we're strong down the middle. With Nick Leaders, Brent Curvey, Tim Dobbins, and the two safeties Steve Paris and Nik Moser, I think they've got a lot of experience and stability. We're building from the inside out, which is good.
I think they've shown this spring that they'll run to the ball. They know our scheme. I think our execution has been pretty good through most of the spring. They've grasped what we really wanted to try and do. That's encouraging.
CN: List a few of the weaknesses that need to be worked on between now and fall camp.
Skladany: We're always going to have to develop depth. That's a big key. We really need to fill out a quality twenty-two, a two-deep. We've got some kids that we identified through the spring that look like they can help us. We've got to make sure they have good summers and preseason. We want to couple the guys that we have returning and any newcomers so we end up getting the best twenty-two. We're going to need some guys to step in and help at times with injuries and fatigue.
CN: I would assume the secondary is an area you want to develop some depth?
Skladany: You can take a look. At cornerback we don't have a lot of depth. We moved Chris Brown over to help us, but we're hoping a couple of the four kids coming in will have a chance to help us and give us some depth. At safety, Caleb Berg has had a good spring. Brandon Hunley is a redshirt freshman that showed some promise before breaking his hand the other day.
CN: What's your impression of Adam Carper at SAM linebacker?
Skladany: For right now it will. He's a big, tall, athletic guy that we're looking for. He can play out in space and in the box. He gives us an athlete out there. I'm hoping he can grow into a Jeremy Loyd-type of player. He has that kind of speed and athleticism.
We talked about who was the most likely guy to start a spring. It was after just a day, but we had talked about it since last year. I had him as an inside backer during bowl practice. We kept him in our thoughts for a long time. Nick Frere is also doing a good job, so we've got a couple of young kids at that spot that are going to give us a good future.
CN: How has Hicks adjusted to his move from nickel back to cornerback?
Skladany: He's picked up fine. He played some corner last year. It wasn't a lot during games, but he was trained at corner all the time. He knows what he's doing and the scheme of things. He's a good football player.
CN: Staying at nickel back, is your plan still to use Brandon Gunn at the position this season?
Skladany: Our nickel back this spring really ended up being Adam Carper. We let him do both. If we're going to put another defensive back in there for our nickel and dime things, it will come from the new guys coming in.
CN: What kind of impression did walk-on defensive lineman Bryce Braaksma make this spring?
Skladany: He has gotten himself bigger and shown some good promise. He was scout team player of the year last year, and has continued to put on weight. He just makes plays out there. I'm hoping he'll keep progressing and give us some depth next year.
CN: Do you think Robertson will finally stick at WILL linebacker, instead of moving back and forth between inside positions?
Skladany: We will just have to see. The best guys will be on the field, and he has really played well this spring. Jamarr Buchanan had a very good spring. I'm very pleased with both those guys. Matt has really improved himself.