Jay Boulware Interview Transcript

ISU's new running backs coach/special forces discussed the competition this spring at each of those positions.

Q: How's spring practice?

BOULWARE: They've been going awesome, the guys have been working really hard and we're pleased with our effort, we've had six practices so far to date, and we haven't wasted one of them.

Q: Coach Chizik has talked about the importance of special teams, he's reminded us not to forget about that along with the offense and defense. How are things going for that unit?

BOULWARE: They're going great, we're introducing one phase of our special forces unit right now and we've gotten it pretty much tightened down in terms of the protection phase of it, and the kids have grasped it really well and doing a great job of it right now, so . . . so far, so good . . . so far, so good.

Q: When you're talking about protection, are you talking about field goals, punts, extra points as well?

BOULWARE: Yeah, those are the two phases that we have introduced, you know, when I talk about special forces, usually most people just include the ‘big four' but that's definitely one of them for sure, field goals and punt protection, yeah, and both have been introduced.

Q: Coach Chizik has talked about also using whoever, be it one of the starters or the last guy on the bench, whoever is most effective in special teams roles, that's got to be exciting to knowing you kind of have the pick of the litter there.

BOULWARE: No question, whenever you make a commitment to winning ball games you've got the play the best personnel at every position. Obviously we're going to be smart throughout the course of the year, but you know, everybody's fair game, especially when you talk about some of your coverage units, the punt's very important, obviously, and then some of the other phases, you know, you're going to have some returners that are starters as well. Every phase is important and everybody has a role on the football team.

Q: When it comes to starting with place kickers, Culbertson's been here a few years, I see him penciled in number one right now and who else is there to maybe push him a little bit?

BOULWARE: Well, we've got three guys right now that are working. No one's earned a position, as Coach Chizik keeps saying. We're all battling right now for a position, we're charting those guys every day out in practice, and checking out their get-off times, their accuracy at certain levels of the field, and he's going to have to earn that spot just like everybody else.

Q: How about the punting battle?

BOULWARE: The punting battle's still the same. We've got a couple guys competing and we've got a third guy in the hole, so, you know, those guys are competing every day in trying to achieve the standard of excellence that we want here at Iowa State, and we're going to get it.

Q: Are we going to see somebody specifically to handle kickoffs, or somebody to do both punts and kickoffs, place kicking and kickoffs, one for each position, something like that?

BOULWARE: It's whoever the best man is, right now we haven't had those guys penciled in these particular spots yet, but whoever the best guy is will be out there when we open up against Kent State.

Q: You feel that you have good candidates at each position, though?

BOULWARE: Right now we've got good guys. All our guys are solid, they're older guys, most of them, but we've got good candidates and we've got good competition in the room.

Q: I want to focus first on the running game. From '95 to 2001, seven straight 1000-yard rushers and there's only been one since. How do we rectify that?

BOULWARE: Well, we're obviously going to place an emphasis on running the ball in the Big 12; that's something that's very important to this staff. We've earmarked running the ball and going out and recruiting, trying to recruit the best running backs possible that we can get. Obviously we've got a few players across the nation that we say we're going to go hammer those guys and try to get them in here, so obviously placing more of an emphasis on the running game, as well as just developing those guys that we have, the young talent that we have, and trying to get more consistency with them.

Q: Now the competition at running back and fullback is wide open. How are the fellows responding?

BOULWARE: Awesome, the guys are getting better every day, and that's what I look for in improvement; we've gone from square one to square . . . eight in a matter of six practices, which I'm very happy to see. That's significant progress in my eyes. We've just got to be sound in our alignments, our assignments and obviously our steps. That's the key; if you take good steps and they're consistent all the time and you get your shoulders at the right point of attack, you can express your runs better and that's what our guys are trying to develop right now.

Q: Coach Chizik and Coach Sheppard have stressed speed, explosiveness, being physical. Where is the backfield in terms of those three qualities right now?

BOULWARE: Right now I feel like we're in the developmental stage of that right now. We're not anywhere close to where we're going to be. So our guys are working hard with Coach Shep, and they've gotten better, they've gotten stronger, they've gotten more explosive. But we've just barely touched the surface of where we're going to be.

Q: Now health at running back has been an issue at Iowa State. Where are the running backs health-wise?

BOULWARE: We're pretty healthy right now. Most of those questions regarding the health of the football team are reserved to Coach Chizik, but right now the running backs are in great shape.

Q: Now, three guys, I want to give you their names and have you respond to each one. First Jason Scales, how's he doing? Josh Johnson, and then Jason Harris has made the move from defense back to offense. Talk about those three players.

BOULWARE: I like Jason Scales. Scales is a great competitor, a tough guy, probably one of the tougher guys in our room. He brings a lot to the table that way; he's smart, he's intelligent, and he's going to definitely provide some depth for us, whether or not he's a starter, who knows at this point in time, but I like what he brings to the table so far through spring. Josh Johnson, I think he played a little bit last year. He's going a good job so far this spring. He's got a little knack of running the football, and you know, surprisingly enough he's doing a great job in learning his assignments and his steps, he had a pretty good scrimmage the other day, and he's doing a phenomenal job for us thus far. Jason Harris, I'm really pleased to have Jason Harris back in our backfield, I understand he played in the backfield before. He's doing a good job; he brings a different dimension, he brings a little more speed to the backfield than what those other two guys bring. So they all have their own strengths, and it's up to those guys to utilize their strengths their best, and it's up to me to bring that out of them, so that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to bring out the best of every single player on this football team.

Q: In the media information we were given that talked about running backs, it said that this is a position that won't really fully be resolved until J.J. Bass gets in here. Is there any news on Bass and where he is right now, and where do you see him fitting in in the fall?

BOULWARE: I don't know that J.J Bass is our answer. You know, obviously any incoming newcomer on this football team, is going to provide some added depth to this team. More important than anything, we've just got to bring everybody along, you know, we're only as strong as our weakest link. So every player, in my mind, is important to us, and this issue won't be resolved until we have another 2000-yard rusher or another 1000-yard rusher like you just said, so, until that point happens. . .then the issue will be rectified in my mind.

Q: Now, the fullback . . . how are the fullbacks and how is the fullback going to be utilized in this scheme?

BOULWARE: Well, Coach Fountain is coaching our fullbacks, tight ends. We've kind of got a hybrid position there, we've got two, but one, and he's doing a great job with those guys so far. They're doing a multiple number of different things and he's doing a great job with those guys so far. They're doing a number of different things and his offense is multiple and he's the guy that you've got to ask to talk about those guys.

Q: Finally, Coach Sheppard talked about, once again, the speed, the explosiveness, the physicality. This is more in terms of the special forces. Have you noticed the changes in the guys since the beginning of the year when you arrived here several weeks ago, and now, just in terms of the eye test.

BOULWARE: Oh yeah, we've got some great kids, and they bust their butt in there for Coach Sheppard; he's a great, great strength coach, he's done a great job with our guys. Since I've been here I've noticed a significant amount of change in the guys; the guys that were more physical, they're more confident in what they're doing. They've all gotten stronger, you can see the physical development in their bodies, and I think that's important for us to compete in the Big 12. So, he's done a great job, so I'm just looking forward to that growth and then some in the coming months.

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