Q: I don't want to start off negative, but is there anybody we should know about injury-wise, or academic casualties or anything at this point?
Chizik: No, our whole football team's here and we're ready to go and today I thought was a good first day.
Q: The ‘NFL camp mentality'. . . what does that mean? I heard you kind of tell them, "We're in an NFL camp mentality right now." What are the kids . . . what should they pick up on that, and what does that mean to them?
Chizik: Well, it's 24-7 football, bottom line. So when they go home tonight at the dorm, they're not thinking about where they're going next week, they're not thinking about their girlfriend. They're thinking about how to get better for this football team. So it's 24-7 right now, we're going to eat it, sleep it, drink it . . . and that's how we're going to prepare every day to get better.
Q: Now, are you guys in an actual camp mode, or are they going back to their own dorm rooms and roommates? Some schools, you know what I mean, they'll literally lock themselves away where the whole team stays in the same place.
Chizik: No, we're . . . we've got them in separate places, but it's all the same thing.
Q: It looks like you didn't ease into anything today.
Chizik: No, there's no easing into anything. Our expectations are very high and, as I told them, the expectations of myself and my staff are very high, and we're not coming down, so . . . Today was the first day but that doesn't mean it's a slow day. Today started out fast.
Q: What went well today? When you walked away, what was the thing you were maybe most encouraged about?
Chizik: Well, I think that the effort, as practice went on, got better, because they understood where we left off in the spring. I thought we started slow, I thought that they didn't get it, and I think as practice went on we picked up the tempo and we kind of got back into the same mode we were in at the end of spring practice last year.
Q: When it comes to position battles, is it the same as it was in the spring, where everything's still wide-open?
Chizik: It is. Everything's wide-open until we play our first football game.
Q: Take us through . . . as far as Bret and Todd . . . how are they as far as setting the tempo and setting the pace? They look like they're obviously kind of working with the ones and all. What do you expect from them?
Chizik: Well, I think . . . I expect a lot of leadership. I expect guys that . . . you know, you practice like you've been in the league three years and you've played for three years, and so . . . obviously my expectations of the whole team are high, but those two guys certainly fall into that category because they've been here too long. So they should be able to set the tempo and the standard out here themselves, so that's our expectation of them.
Q: Got it. Now Texas and Auburn . . . certain level of football. Obviously the athletes overall and the numbers are maybe overall a higher caliber, but you say, "I'm not gonna come down to your level." Was it a different level off the bat that a lot of these guys just don't know . . . they haven't been there yet, or they don't really know what goes on at those types of schools?
Chizik: Well, what I mean by that is that I have an expectation, and if your expectations are lower than mine, you're going to have to come up. So, that's just kind of the mental picture I want them to gather. They know what we've set in everything we do, and the bottom line is, they've got to come up, or they're not going to play.
Q: You have to replace seven out of nine linemen on offense and defense. Do you have a timetable for doing that in the sense that . . . a ‘weeding out' process so that you get good practices with your first unit going into the first game? So, do you have a timetable for setting the front five and front four?
Chizik: Well, we don't, you know, it's just like we've told our whole team, "Every day is about you, setting a goal for yourself to get better, and then the next day follow it up with another goal to get better than you were the day before." So, we're not putting a timetable; we're trying to ask these guys to be all they can be every day, and then in the end of the day, if they'll do that, then all the other stuff will take care of itself.
Q: You talk about them coming up to your expectations, your level of expectation. How do you grade them, early on?
Chizik: Well, again, I thought we started slow today. I thought that they weren't playing to the level that we'd like to see, so we started practice over again. So . . . I think they get it.
Q: To follow up on Andrew's question a little bit, in a larger sense when it comes to fall camp, do you take it . . . this many weeks we'll prepare to be the best team we can and then take a week to prepare for the first opponent?
Chizik: Exactly. You know, every day this is a step-by-step progression, because everything is still new. We have a lot of new guys here, we have a lot of junior college guys, freshmen. So, everything is still new for the guys that went through it once, and then you throw those guys on top, so there's still just a lot of new things still being thrown at them, and so it's going to be a learning process and that's why you can't look forward to ‘What are we going to be in three weeks?' You've got to look forward to what are you going to be tomorrow, and then three weeks from now, that ought to take care of itself.
Q: How far into practice were you, Coach, when you started over, as you said?
Chizik: Uh . . . we were probably 10, 15 minutes into practice.
Q: Coach, my last one . . . At Media Day people talk about . . . "Oh, the experts predict this, the experts predict that." And you said something to the effect of "You can't listen to the experts." How do you keep your guys focused on the team, focused on what you guys can control and not where you're predicted to finish in the Big 12?
Chizik: Well, it's like I said. We're a family. And as anybody's family goes, you're very protective of that family. So what goes on in the confines of our family only we know and nobody else knows. Nobody knows our guys. Nobody knows their hearts, nobody knows their desires, nobody knows their work ethic. So that's why I don't give a whole lot of credence to what they say at the beginning of the season. I'll be very interested to see where we are at the end, however.
Q: How about this schedule, Coach? I know this is day one, maybe I'm getting ahead of myself, but some people call it one of the toughest in the nation.
Chizik: You know, it is. And that's what happens when you play in a great league, and that's what makes the league fun, that's what makes it exciting. So, again, we don't look that far ahead. We're just . . . it's baby steps, so we're just taking steps day-by-day.
Q: Coach, first of all, we know that the conditioning was a huge part of this summer. You took before pictures and after pictures. What did those look like?
Chizik: Well, I thought there was a definitive change. I think that the kids think that. I think that we think that. You know, it builds a certain level of confidence, so you know, again, we're just going to continue to work in the weight room, even through two-a-days and make sure that the strength gains that we've made, and the conditioning gains that we've made, that we don't lose them.
Q: In terms of things like the body fat measurements, speed tests, have you done those things . . . timing guys to see where they are?
Chizik: We haven't really timed a lot, but we did test them and of course you know, at the end of the summer, if they've done what our expectations are of them, then they're as good as they can be, and so, you know, you can test them . . . obviously that's for a confidence thing, and we did that to a certain degree, but you also have to be smart because you don't want to get anybody hurt.
Q: Sure. So in terms of speed . . . I know that's a top priority . . . have they gotten faster since they first met Coach Sheppard back in January, or . . . ?
Chizik: I think our overall team speed's changed. I think we brought in some guys that'll help change that. But you know, I think Coach Sheppard's done a great job , both in trying to build our speed and our strength, so I think we've made gains everywhere.
Q: Now we know that they spent a lot of the summer breaking down film and doing the little mini-camps. How much of what they learned through the spring and over the summer do you think they've retained coming into today?
Chizik: Well, you know it looked today like they were a little rusty, as we expected. And again, it's been three or four months since they've had any of this, so you know it's going to be a little bit of a refresher course here for the first week.
Q: Last couple questions . . . in terms of the progression from here, what's the pace? I know you said ‘no letup' but what's the winnowing process, both in terms of beginning to narrow starters towards the 30th, and also in terms of deciding who might be redshirted and who might be . . . I know that was a big part of your statement regarding some of the JuCo's is . . . you know, they have three years or four years, and so how does that process move forward beginning from day one?
Chizik: Well we just take it day-by-day and look and see who's mentally progressing, because there's a lot to learn, and then you've got to throw the physical side there into the game. So we won't know a lot until we've had scrimmages and game-like situations and just different situations that we've put them in that really can tell us whether, when we put 11-on-11, when we put the pads on on Saturday, they can do what we ask them to do. So it takes a while, but the process will be very thorough and it'll take us a week or two to start kind of getting things in line and giving everybody a fair chance.
Q: Last question, Coach . . . you got the three guys in here for spring ball, Blaes, Alvarez and Dedrick. How are they looking as part of the offensive line?
Chizik: Well, they're doing good. Again, they're going to be in the process of . . . us really looking and seeing if they can help our football team, you know, three weeks from now when we play. So it'll be interesting, but I think that they made a lot of gain. Being here in the spring right now was invaluable, and I think they made a lot of gains, but they're going to have to continue to really stay on that pace in order to be ready to play a whole Big 12 season.