CN: Now, Coach, you have a chance to get back with the players after being away for the spring. Let's talk about the ‘eye test' first. How do these guys look now compared to how they looked when you originally took their pictures and at springtime?
Bolt: I don't think there's any question; Coach Sheppard and his staff have done a great job, and the players as well. They've bought in to what we're doing, and there's a distinct difference. And the kids look good, they feel good, they're stronger, they're faster, and in the best shape, they say, they've ever been in. So, you know, we'll see. We'll see when it comes around.
CN: We know we're only two days into this, but are there any pleasant surprises that you're seeing out there?
Bolt: You know, I think there's great competition everywhere on defense, you know, all 11 positions, which makes for a great defense . . . there's nobody can take a break. Ace Bowen is a great player, he's been our leader, he is our leader. But he's getting pushed well by Derec Schmidgall and Josh Raven's come in . . . and so he knows our philosophy, and that's "Get better every day. Find a way to get better from what you did from play to play, and then the last play's over, forget that one and let's go move to the next one." And that's sort of the philosophy we're taking now with it, and I think our kids have bought into that, and it's going to be interesting to see what happens in the next couple weeks.
CN: These guys, from the first day I looked at them . . . I mentioned to people the first day of practice, I said to you, "These guys look little." And I look at them and you can tell the difference, but how's their speed? When they get out here and run on the field, how's their speed right now?
Bolt: Right now we're pretty fresh-legged. Right now we're fresh-legged; we're two days into it. And you know, that's part of training camp. As you get going, the legs will get tired, the mind will get tired, and it becomes mental and physical, and that's what you've got to fight through. We preach to them every day, you know, "Right now you're fresh-legged and you're fast and that's good. Now a week from now, let's be the same way." And that's sort of been our saying.
CN: Um . . . Howe was listed as a defensive lineman, but I thought I saw him catching passes yesterday. Has he been moved over?
Bolt: Yes, we moved him to tight end. You know, we've had some injuries at tight end and we moved him to tight end, so he's over at tight end now.
CN: In terms of some of the newcomers . . . Bell . . . Bibbs . . . how are they looking?
Bolt: It looks like all of the junior college kids are what we thought they were. They‘re big kids that can run, all of them. And they're all spinning right now; we've thrown a lot at them in two days. We've not had a time to sit down with them and coach them, except for the last two days. They've been here with our strength people and they've been working out and going to school and running, but they haven't done any football with us. And so they're sort of spinning right now, and as they're learning every day, they get better, and we'll see what happens with those guys.
CN: Coach, what is going to be the keys to . . . between now and the first game, is it going to be more installing the defense, is it going to be more defining who's going to be on the field? What are the major two or three challenges facing the team between now and Kent State?
Bolt: I think it's a conglomeration of it all. You know, we've got to get better learning the defense, we've got to be in better shape, we've got to solidify a two-deep, and when we do that I think we'll be ready. And the kids have bought in and they're doing everything they can do, you know, so we're really proud of them. And the motto is, "Get better every day, get better every period, forget the last play and go to the next one, whether it be good or bad."
CN: In terms of the defensive line, we talked to Tibbs on the offensive line. He said he lost a lot of body fat, and he's gotten faster and stronger. In terms of the defensive linemen, what have they done in terms of maybe adding size, losing fat, you know . . . particularly Braaksma because I know he was smaller . . . as you say, very smart, but . . . what have these guys done physically?
Bolt: I think they've changed their bodies, you know, there's no question when you looked at them when we first got here and the way they look now. They've changed their bodies, but the main thing . . . they've changed their mentality. And I think they've bought in to what we're doing, and that's a big part of it, it's mental and physical. And they're in the best shape . . . Shep feels good about them, we feel good about them, and you know, we'll take it one day at a time.
CN: Tuba's looking good.
Bolt: Tuba (Rubin) looks good. He's a big body that can run, and he's got to be a good player for us . . . but he's getting pushed too and that's good. It's good; he gets better and the guys behind him get better.