When you start these press conferences at the end of the summer, getting ready for the season you really don't know where to begin; there' a lot of things to talk about. At one of the outings I found out where I stood with one of those things, because I said I don't really know where to begin and one of the guys up front said why don't you start near the end. So I'm used to being in front of all kinds of people, but I appreciate the opportunity to get a chance to spend a little time with you today. Let me give you a little update on some things and give you some information and then open it wide open to all of you for any questions you might have.
Our meetings so far, conditioning check that's all we've been able to do since the kids reported yesterday. It's gone well so far. The only one in the two deep that was here to begin the spring was Roger Wright. He's a walk-on and it looks like he's not going to come back and return to the team. Walk-on kid that had a lot of potential. It's not a 100 percent that he's not going to come back but he's not with us right now and we're going to hopefully, find out maybe he'll come back and give it a shot again. But he's not with us, that's one of the guys in the two deep at the end of the spring that's not with us now.
I think the summer leadership on this team has been real strong. We don't get by rules to be around these kids very much so I rely on Matt McGettigan and Chris Ruf and their staff and talking to players every single day either on the phone or bumping into them in the hallway or stopping by the weight room. But Matt McGettigan has been with me since the first day I took the job, he's a pretty good gauge. He knows what I want from a leadership standpoint and I think it's been pretty strong.
We'll elect captain before we break camp but I want the newcomers and all this team everyone in the 105 to get a chance to identify who the real leaders are on this team.
The health of the team is real good. Todd Blythe I know that's the first name that always comes up when we talk about injury and rehab. He's ready to go. His conditioning time and his speed is better than it was prior to the injury. We won't hold him or pace him through anything. There isn't anybody who's going to [tell] Blythe he's gotta pace him on anything – you stand back. He's ready to go he's 100 percent, more than 100 percent. He'll do everything everybody else is doing all through camp in these 29 practices before we get started.
Houston Jones one of our new
comers played in an all-star game in
Brandon Gunn who had to rerun his conditioning check today because he wasn't in the kind of shape he needed to be a couple weeks ago pulled a hamstring today. It doesn't sound like he's in the kind of condition yet that he needs to be. But he won't be starting when we get started because of the hamstring but other than that very, very good shape overall with the health of this team.
2005 class of recruits we added a
couple, Reggie Rock defensive back, athlete quarterback from
Dominque Rocker did not qualify because of his test score, he will be going to a junior college we'll continue to monitor him and recruit him but whether we bring him back or not I'm not guaranteeing that at this time but he is the only that we think we will miss out of all that class that we signed from last year.
Jason Berryman is in the final phase of my evaluation and my expectations and the things I laid out for him he took a couple of classes this summer as soon as we get those final grades backm if he did what we think he did and could do and should have done and he's eligible. Then he will be reinstated on the football team. He will practice and he will be put back on scholarship before we start the first day of classes.
The final phase is to see what happens here academically. He won't be out there today because we don't know if he's eligible or not he had to take care of his academics. We could know later today. We might know tomorrow. We might know Saturday. As soon as we do and if he's eligible we'll give you a session with Jason Berryman, let you visit with him, interview him. But this is not about Jason Berryman or Dan McCarney or Bret Meyer or Stevie Hicks or Nick Leaders this is about a football team and a lot of people don't realize that some times that never have had to walk in our shoes as coaches. This is about a team, not about anybody individually. So we'll give you an opportunity to ask your questions, do your interviews and then after that for awhile I'm not going to let him do anymore interviews. You can have as many as you want when we give you that session. Talk to him, visit with him, get your feedback, get your stories and then this is about my team and this team, not any one person.
So he needs to get back on this team if he qualifies academically and win a spot back on this football team. I'll start him as a 5th stringer and see if he can work his way back up and then we'll put him back and let you interview him the week of the Illinois State game if he's in position to play for that game we'll let you talk to him then.
We're beginning our fourth phase
right now we go through January-February-winter workouts. February-March when we
continue those workouts and is still part of that phase. We begin spring ball
March and April which is the second phase. They get a break in May. They come
back for summer workouts. They just finished seven weeks of that and now the
next phase two-a-days. 29 practices and you find out even more about your
football team and continue your evaluation and development of this team. So this
is a very important 29 practice. Four weeks from Saturday night we open against
We'll continue to build our team one day at a time. There's some guys we know right now we can win with in the Big 12 there are clearly less questions than there were last year at time, but there are still clearly some very big question marks as far as who the starters are going to be, who the best player is, who the backup is, who the role guy will be, who the swing guy will be and that's what coaching in practice and evaluation is all bout.
The final grades of our team are not all in. We anticipate having I think everyone eligible who was here in the spring. Some of the grades are starting to come in and we've got lots of A's and B's in our summer grades. They've been very good so far and we anticipate taking the same team on the field that we had academically last spring.
Season tickets already been well documented we're on a record pace right now. We'll continue to beat the drums, talk to people get them to the stadium and I'm really hoping that all six games at Iowa State this year it's going to be hard to get a ticket. I know it is for some of the tickets right now, but we want it that way for all of the games and the season tickets sales are going fantastic.
We're excited about the start of
the season. I don't know of any head coach or coaching staff or players that
aren't excited this season. There's no losses, no setbacks, no adversity, yet
but we all know we're going to have it. We can't always be successful here at
On his feeling heading into this season compared to others…
I think I feel as good as I have with any of them and probably a better than a lot of them because of some of the experience coming back. As the head coach I know every problem that's there and every inexperienced position. So those things I worry about as a head coach, but we've got seven or eight guys on offensive, seven or eight guys on defense who have played a lot of football/
Ben Barkema was starter in the bowl game. He wasn't a starter all of last year, but I've seen him do some good things as a redshirt freshman for example.
We've got some positions where clearly I wouldn't trade those guys for anybody in this league. They may not have all of the accolades, all of the honors of some of the other ones but there's some guys on my team I wouldn't trade for other guys in this league.
And then it's a team still obviously in growth. When you look at our offense, your roster, there's probably going to be one at the fewest and two or three at the most senior starters. This is a young bunch still. So you know they're going to get better and better if they stay hungry and follow our lead and respond to coaching. We have a chance we think to continue our improvement. There's still plenty of positions wide open on this team. It sounds good as a head coach when you're talking to your team, so hopefully have a good morale and attitude they're going to have a shot.
I know who my starting quarterback is, I know who my starting tailback is. I know who my starting nose guard is. You can line up 16 of them who aren't going to beat out Dobbins at MIKE linebacker. So it's our job to keep them sharp, keep them on edge, keep them improving and getting them ready.
When you look at the o-line two-deep, you look at corner two-deep, the backups all those guys behind Barkema, Walter Nickel at tight end. You look at our punting position, our kicking position. I don't know who our starters are going to be September 3rd, you don't either. The backup spots all over a number of positions. No. 2 and No. 3 quarterback those guys aren't relaxing right now knowing they got No. 2 iced behind Bret or No. 3 iced. So there clearly are some spots that are really wide open on this team and then they're are some spots that I know what's going to happen if they still healthy God willing because they're going to be ready to go September 3rd and they're going to be starters because I know they've already been tested against some of the best in the country.
On open positions….
All those that are wide open means
that no one has solidified themselves yet as the best as either the starter or
the backup. There's guys there who have played. Tony Yelk has played, he's going
into his 16th season at
On Tony Yelk….
Tony has had a good healthy summer that much I know which is great. Culbertson has done a real good job; he's been up here all this summer. I'm anxious to get on the field and start evaluating. We've got as good of a snapper as there is in the Big 12 and one of the best in country in Landon Schrage and that sure makes those punters and kickers feel good. One of the main reasons we didn't get a punt blocked and they're going to try and come after us this year is because of our snapper and every punt and kick starts with that guy and he was just phenomenal just phenomenal and he's going to get some looks in the NFL if he continues to get bigger and consistent because his times are outstanding.
With those kickers and punters its just wide open so I'm bringing the kickers to camp, I'm bring Culbertson, Yelk, Corey Paetznick, and we'll have more walk-ons the first day of class some that were with us before and some that are new. I have a feeling one of those three guys will be our guy September 3red and then Blankenship and Yelk will have to battle on for the punting job as we go on these three weeks.
On the expectations for Hicks and Meyer….
Real high expectations, being
realistic though knowing we're going to see some real great defense. Obviously
again, when you can do the things Bret Meyer did when you're 12th in
the country turnover ratio as a freshman quarterback. His presence, his
personality, he doesn't flinch. I've seen him handle adversity. I've seen him
handle success already. I've seen him handle some setbacks and I just see all
those things from an intangible standpoint you're looking for so I know those
will continue to get better. But you sure don't see his name in the top three
quarterbacks in the Big 12 because of what we have in this league. But I think
he's pretty special and the
Stevie Hicks is a big strong physical back. He's 218 right now and we told him to come back at 212-215 unless you don't lose a step and you're faster. Matt McGettigan says ‘He's 218, Mac. He has not lost a step and he's faster.' So he can go ahead and eat four times a day which we can do during two-a-days as long as he keeps that speed.
I'm real, real excited about both those guys. Those guys are play makers. Those are guys that have shown they can do it on game day and they still have a whole lot of room to improve and that's a great combination.
On utilizing the tight end more…
We need too. Ever since Mike Banks graduated we've been average at best. And we haven't been better than average since Mike Banks graduated and he was one of the best that this school ever had. Ever had at this place and since then we've been average, solid, okay, below average and hopefully with Barkema and we got three more guys coming in, freshmen tight tends there will be a real good chance those guys will play. A couple other walk-ons in the program. We need to be better than average. When you have a performance of Mike Banks four years in a row and then you're below that performance since he left. We need to do a better job of recruiting and developing and coaching to get that back to Mike Banks performance which is one of the best in country. We want to get back to that and hopefully Barkema and Nickel and these young guys will be able to eventually get there. They're not there yet but hopefully they'll be able to get there.