Gene Chizik Q&A

Get the latest update on ISU fall practice so far from the head man himself. Gene Chizik discusses the most recent developments as ISU continues to prepare for the season opener on August 30th.

Q: Talk about the receivers. How are they looking pretty well and you can you name a few guys that are doing well in that position?

Chizik: Well, I think there are some guys that have come on. I think everyone's equally distributed themselves. We've had our good days and we've had our bad days like every other position. Todd's had a great camp and made a great effort. So has RJ. I think they're coming along as a group right now. I don't know if anyone is heads and tails above anyone else right now, but I think it's been a solid camp.

Q: How about Zac Sandvig at defensive back?

Chizik: With Zac, it's a learning process. He struggled at times, but he's also made some nice things happen. Again, it's going to be a work in process to continue to understand the speed of the game at that position. That's a very dangerous position. Just understand all the little intricacies of playing corner. He's made some progress, but he's got a way to go, but we're proud of where he's at right now.

Q: Is he a guy you could see getting on the field this season?

Chizik: Yeah, I'm hoping he can get some playing time. Obviously we have battles going on in that position. He's obviously in the thick of things for some playing time. I hope he can win himself some playing time in the next two weeks.

Q: Who's returning kicks for you right now?

Chizik: We're really testing out some guys right now…Allen Bell is one, Drenard Williams is one…RJ Sumrall, Zac Sandvig…We're looking at some different guys. There are three or four guys in the mix right now. We haven't really decided who's "the guy." I don't think anyone is ahead of anyone else. We have some decisions to make.

Q: Is Milan still in the mix? I think three games last year he returned some kicks. Is he still in the mix?

Chizik: He's one we've looked at. Obviously he's in a situation that he's trying to win some playing time at white out. I think kick returning is secondary to him right now.

Q: Anybody stepping up in running backs? Anybody emerging?

Chizik: Well, they're all staying the same. They're all playing hard and trying to learn the offense. They've all had their good days and bad days. No one's ahead of anyone else.

Q: Who would start if you played tomorrow?

Chizik: Probably Jason Scales just because he's had some playing time and he's been in the league…experience is the great equalizer for sure. But, Jason's had a good camp, but there are a lot of them in the mix and it'll take 2-3 weeks to weed that out.

Q: Can they go 3-4 weeks at that spot?

Chizik: No, I think you need to go with a couple guys that can get in a groove and carry the football. That's just a position where you can't give them three plays and then another guy three plays and then they're spaced out. I think that's really hard to do. We're trying to find our top two and those will be the guys that end of carrying it.

Q: Is JJ in that #2 mix or is it just Harris?

Chizik: It's really…everyone's in the number 1 and 2 mix. If I had to play tomorrow, that's what I said, but I don't.

Q: How's the defensive line shaping up right now?

Chizik: A little beat up right now in terms of camp things, but I think we feel good about 5 or 6 of them. There's some young guys that we've got to keep bringing along as far as depth goes, but I think as far as we hoped they would be, I think they're at that point.

Q: How about the O-line?

Chizik: The O-line is a little bit of an enigma. They've had their good days and bad days. I really like the effort…great effort…they really want to get it done, but again, that's another position that I'm glad we have two weeks left.

Q: How's Ben Lamaak coming along?

Chizik: He's doing really really well. Ben's had a great camp so far. A guy that moved so late in the game…we didn't have him there for much of spring practice. It's really a kind of a learning experience for him every day, but I'm really proud of how far he's come since we started two weeks ago.

Q: You'll have one scrimmage left…is that right?

Chizik: Yes, one scrimmage left. Possibly two, but we know for sure one. As you get closer to game time, there's a fine line there.

Q: Do you still like that one more scrimmage to shape the depth chart?

Chizik: We do. The scrimmages are so important because this is the only time you get to tackle a live game like situations and it's really hard to back off of that and expect your defense to tackle well and play well if they haven't done it in a month. This is very advantageous for our defense…very advantageous for our offense to be able to really show whether they could make a guy miss or not. There's so much we get out of it, but there's a fine line between us doing it enough and not doing it too much.

Q: Who won the scrimmage tonight?

Chizik: It was a tie. It was dead even. All the way across.

Q: It's amazing how that works.

Chizik: It is. They are just exactly as good as each other every time we scrimmage.

Q: Were there any specific game time situations that you were working on?

Chizik: Yes, there were. We did a nice drill today. We worked on overtime today. We worked on 2-minute yesterday just trying to drive home situations that could happen. We had the officials out there today so we brought out captains and went through two overtime periods. Every day we're trying to address another situation that might not come up too much, but it does come up and we've got to feel comfortable when we get there.

Q: Have you had officials at every scrimmage?

Chizik: Yes.

Q: Have you chosen captains yet?

Chizik: No

Q: Anybody's that come out of nowhere that you didn't see?

Chizik: Not really. There's no real surprises of anyone jumping out and you think wow, where did they come from. I think we're right on track that we thought would be able to help us. I think those guys are right in line with where we though they'd be at this time. Just to say that someone jumped out of the woodwork and surprised us…I don't think that's the case anywhere.

Q: Do you get into Kent State with the guys at all?

Chizik: Sure. You know that's a great question. Again, there's a fine line with that. We've got to work on us right now. We're not where we need to be as a football team doing our things. There's plenty of time to work on them…it's two weeks away. It'll be shortly we'll be getting into that phase of it, but right now there's a lot of wrinkles we have to iron out with ourselves.

Q: When will you make a decision about your 2-deep for the Kent State game?

Chizik: We'll make it that week and we want people fighting and clawing for a position down to the end. I don't want people telling anybody they're the guy…they got to keep working on it. I'm sure you'll see some shuffling as the season goes on. It's one thing playing against each other and thinking here are our starters and then you get to the game and there's no production or they can't handle the situation. It'll be a continuous process even through the season, I'm sure.

Q: Any players move position in the last week or so from where they started in the spring?

Chizik: No, everybody's pretty much right on and doing what they did from day 1.

Q: Linebackers…who's playing at the ones?

Chizik: Well, it was…we mixed them in and out. Alvin Bowen ran with the ones, as you'd expect. Banks ran with the ones. We through in a couple other guys. Schmidgall ran with the ones. We mixed them up today. We wanted to see exactly how some of the guys that were potential backups would react when we put them in there with the first group.

Q: Back to Lamaak really quick, was it a case of he had so much potential as a offensive lineman or it just wasn't going to happen for him at tight end?

Chizik: I think it was the first. I think it was…as we looked at him there is great potential with him. When he left spring practice, he was probably 290…maybe 285…he comes back and he's 306…he's embraced the move, which helps us. We thought athletically right now that would be a very good move for our offensive line and the bottom line is that if you can get tight ends that are big enough to move there, that's what you got. Evidently if they were good enough an athlete to recruit as a tight end there, that helps.

Q: Is he a guy you see playing some this year?

Chizik: Yeah. I really do. I'm hoping that Ben can win a position. I think he's right in the thick of things and in the battle for it. I think he's got a chance to really win some playing time and have a great career here.

Q: How's he doing in terms of competing with the JUCO guys for spots?

Chizik: He's right in the mix with everybody. Ben has done a great job in learning what to do at offensive line…learning how to compete. He's a young guy. It's a learning process for him every day, but he's been competing and he's really showing us he has a chance to play in this league.

Q: Is that something you try to do…if you're going to change a guy's position, you change it earlier in his career?

Chizik: I think so. I think the later you move a guy, by the time he actually gets comfortable with the position…he's gone. You'd like to try to do that in his first year…maybe second. Once you get to the third or fourth year, it's hard.

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