Rich Ellerson: I'm very encouraged and pleased with where we are at this point. There is always a learning curve with a new system and some things are not happening that need to happen. Camp has been so important because there is no substitution for the repititions that the players are getting. The gains that they made in the weight room with strength and speed has been great to see. They have really embraced what we brought along with the West Point mission.
CSR: Four offensive linemen have graduated from last year's team. Was replacing them the biggest challenge you had coming in on offense?
RE: Yes, they are the personality of a team. What we do with our offense is not the same as other offenses. We raided the defensive front to fill some spots and they just need some experience. They know what they are supposed to do but its not the same as actually doing in a game. With so much inexperience on the offensive line we just can't do as much as I usually do because the triple-option must be so precise.
CSR: So which quarterback will be running the triple option for you this year?
RE: It's really been a competition among four players and it really will not unwound until we start playing games. We have our returning quarterbacks in Chip (Bowden), Max Jenkins, and Carson (Williams) but we also have a prep school kid named Trent Steelman who has played real well. They all have different strengths and have really done some great things so far.
CSR: It seems you may have the tallest wide receiver in the country in Ali Villanueva (6-foot-10, 283-pounds)?
RE: Yeah we moved him from offensive line and we really think he's going to be a challenge on the perimeter. He's an outstanding athlete who was a great basketball player. He doesn't run great but he's always open. He really compliments what we do with the triple-option much like Ramses Barden did for us at Cal-Poly last year.
CSR: What do you need to improve on with your defense?
RE: Our defensive front needs to keep working to get better and our ability at cornerback. I figured we would be a little better that what we have been able to do so far. However, the players have embraced the system and have really bought into what we are trying to do.
CSR: What needs to improve?
RE: Our reaction to the system is not where it needs to be in my opinion. We're ahead of the curve but we're still a work in progress. Fundamental development is really important but we won't know for sure what we have until the show the ability to play at full speed. The nice thing is that the kids are really buying into what we are doing at this point.
CSR: Iowa State is the fourth game of the year. What are you looking to have accomplished at that point as you head to Ames in late September?
RE: We will really find out so much in our first game. I have a picture of what I want to happen but a lot of times a bunch of those things end up getting blown up. By the time we get to the Iowa State game, we need to know what has gone wrong and hopefully made the proper adjustments. We really need to know who we are by the time of the Iowa State show.