Q: Tell us about three players: Matt Melloy, Drew Tate and Mike Follett, as each of them are on the depth chart.
Ferentz: "All three guys have made good progress. We have seen Matt and Mike for some time. Matt went through the spring last year with a severe ankle sprain but would not come out, as we were short on receivers. That told us a lot about his mental toughness. He is a tall, physical guy with a great attitude and I think you will see him make plays for us this season."
"Mike, as you know, moved from defense to offense. He was a little tentative last spring, which is common with a position change. I really think he started to hit his stride this camp and we are very excited about his future."
"Then Drew Tate is a newcomer. We had a good feel about him during recruiting. The best thing I can say about Drew is that he keeps getting better each day. I really think that he caught fire the second half of camp. That is not to say he is perfect, because he hardly is, but he really did some good things out there and I think he rose above the rest of the pack. We are really high on all of the guys, but I think he is the guy that is most ready to play right now. That being said, it is a little scary because he is a true freshman. It's going to be exciting if he gets in there."
"If you look at it, he grew up in a football family, which is an advantage. For the last four years, he has thrown the football. That was the structure of their high school offense, his dad is know dummy. I think Dick (Olin, Drew's father and high school coach) realized that his kid could throw the ball around a little bit so that is how they geared their offense. Dick has always liked to throw the football."
"Drew has thrown the ball an awful lot during his career, and Eric (McCollom) had a different style coming in so that is the big difference. He has been able to pick things up pretty quickly. All of that being said, when you throw a young guy out there it can get pretty exciting, but we like the way he carries himself and he is a very confident kid out there."
"I am not sure that Drew's team had a running play in their playbook, other than when he pulled it down and ran with it. This guy can throw the football. He committed to Texas A&M after his sophomore year, so I think it tells you that they recognized down there that he is a pretty good football player. He likes to throw the football."
Q: Will he play for sure?
Ferentz: "I don't know. He is our #2 guy, so he is one play away from going in the ball game."
Q: Was it disappointing that a guy like Jason Manson or someone that has been here didn't beat out a true freshman?
Ferentz: "I don't think so. We are pleased with Jason, I think he is doing a good job. Typically in a case like this, it is one guy accelerating more than we thought he would. We are not down on Jason, he has four years ahead of him in this program and we are excited about that. But at this point, I think that Drew is ahead of him a bit. They are both in the mix and Jason is our #3 and he has to be ready to go as well."
"Everybody is in competition with each other, but one thing about all of this is that they are races. We have not played a game yet so we have a lot of guys that are in that boat and they have to do a good job when they are out there, because there is a lot of competition."
"The biggest plus that we learned in the spring is that Eric Rothwell can play center; we didn't know that a year ago at this time. Eric has to be ready to go, as he is technically our #2 center, but we are really high on Mike Elgin and I think he is a good prospect there as well."
Q: Did Nathan have the kind of camp that you had hoped?
Ferentz: "I would say that in the first half, no, but the second half yes. He started slow, and I don't want to say it was disappointing, but we had hoped for a little bit more. During the second half, he started doing some good things from last Tuesday on. He looked more like what we had hoped for. I am real confident that he will do a good job this week."
Q: What specifically did Nathan improve the most on in the second half of camp?
Ferentz: "I think it was an overall mode of operation. I thought he took a major step in the spring in terms of confidence and decisiveness, those types of things. I am not sure that we saw a visible jump when camp started, I am just being honest with how we all saw it. But I really think that somewhere early last week, we saw him come around again and operate the way we had hoped."
Q: When do you expect Albert Young back?
Ferentz: "He is walking around and doing fine. It is a little bit like a broken rib in some ways. Broken ribs are painful initially and that limits what you can do, but eventually it starts to feel better and you feel better. The fact that this is a non-weight bearing bone, or it takes just 20-percent of the weight, is a good thing. He is walking around right now though certainly not ready to play, but we are optimistic that he will be playing sometime in September, I don't think we are talking about October. We will take it one day at a time, but he is in great spirits right now. He is missing some critical training time, so once he gets to the point to where he can start training, that is going to be important for him."
Q: At running back, was it disappointing that you had to keep Fred Russell out of contact situations this camp?
Ferentz: "We were not anxious to see Ladell get tackled his last couple of years here. Once you know that a running back is going to protect the ball and that they know how to play, I think it's only smart to keep them out of contact and not take any foolish risks. That is one of the tough things about practice in football. It is hard to get a team ready without scrimmaging, but there are certain things that we do not do. We don't cut block, we encourage our guys about the kind of hits they make, so it's not quite like a game. But it is hard to go without tackling. But if you have a proven player like Fred, it's silly to have him take the hits. He will get hit enough in the fall."
Q: Has Bob Sanders been hitting anybody?
Ferentz: "Yeah, he sort of slipped in there under the radar the other day, and we covered that in our meetings. It was a heck of a collision and I am glad that both of those guys are still fine (it was one of the backs). It was scary though. The other guy didn't back down. (Question from Al Grady: ‘Is Marcus Schnoor 100-percent?') Kirk: Good timing there Al, yeah he is. (One assumes that Schnoor was the back that took the hit from Sanders)."
Q: Will there be more carries for the fullbacks this year?
Ferentz: "We will wait to see how that plays out. The way that we are designed, when we are in two backs, the fullback is a glorified guard position. We are really a one back team, unless you have a guy like Jeremy Allen that you can mix up some two-back carries. I am not sure how much of that we will be doing."
Q: Talk about Marshall Freeman on the depth chart at defensive end.
Ferentz: "Derrick (Robinson) will not be with us this week or next, and Marshall has been with us a few years and is a real hard worker, very conscientious guy. Our defensive line is going to get worn out this week, so they are going to need to be rested and well, because they are going to be chasing around a lot of passes. I am not sure how many passes we saw last year, it seemed like 65. It might not have been that many, but we might see 64 this week."
"We are hoping to play an aggressive, fundamentally sound game. If we give them any, we have to make sure they earn it. We don't want to give them anything easy, and that is true in every facet of this game, be it offense, defense or special teams."
"We have been working hard under center, with calls and with cadences. This is the first time out in a live arena for a lot of our guys, so we are just hoping that we can play a solid game and if everyone does their jobs, hopefully we will come out on top, but it will be a great test for our guys."
Q: What would be a successful season in your mind?
Ferentz: "It's like every season. Ability is ability, and it changes each year along with experience, but we just ask our guys to compete hard each and every Saturday first and foremost, and to do that, they have to prepare well during the week. It all starts with your preparation and we emphasize that. I like to think that we have young people with good motors so when it's game time, they are going to show up and play as hard as they possibly can. I think the people in our state appreciate that and they want to see it."
"It is a team sport, so you want the team to play like a team. If we take care of those areas, then we will have a chance to have the kind of season that we should have or deserve to have."
Q: How is Jermelle Lewis doing?
Ferentz: "He is doing well. He is in great spirits. I am not going to put a time frame on it. We spoke about some things during our medical meetings this morning. It is possible that he could get back this year, but we will wait and see. He is a fast healer, but that being said, we will not do anything silly to jeopardize a senior year for Jermelle, because he certainly deserves that."
Q: How are Mo Brown and Bob Sanders?
Ferentz: "I would not say 100-percent. Mo and Bob are ailing and I think they will be ailing all during the season. It may get better as we go along, but they are not 100-percent. But they are tough young people so I expect both of them to play."
Q: With so many receivers coming in and out of practice, does that hurt the quarterbacks?
Ferentz: "A little bit, but I am trying to remember the last time our receivers were out there intact and healthy; it just doesn't happen. That is not only the last five years but the last 20. It seems to be the nature of things."
Q: When do you expect this Offensive Line to come together as a unit?
Ferentz: "I don't know. Like last year's defense, I felt that once we got things going we would be fine. We can't expect things to be as smooth as they were last year right from the get go. That probably won't happen and Miami will have something to do with that as well. That being said, I am confident with our guys and they will be ready to play aggressively and smart and I think we will improve quickly."
Q: Are these the guys you are going to stick with to build cohesiveness or are there others in the mix?
Ferentz: "We will keep an open mind like every position and evaluate things every day. Things could change before Saturday as far as that goes. This is where we are now. In a perfect world, you would love to just take guys right through the season, but I don't think we are in that position quite yet. We will judge it day by day."
Q: Talk about CJ Jones and what he has been doing for the Browns
Ferentz: "They approached him about playing cornerback a couple of days ago. I am not sure if he played that position in high school and he did not here. I am pleased for him and I am not totally surprised. We had five guys drafted and five others get selected as free agents. If you look back at guys like LeVar Woods and right on through; I think if a young guy goes into the NFL prepared, he has a chance and CJ certainly has taken advantage of his opportunities and I am very pleased for him."