Q: Have your receivers stepped it up since the spring?
I think the whole group has made great strides in the spring. They were not the highlight of the spring, to say the least. They were a young group in the spring, and I think we are seeing those guys mature a little bit and benefiting from practice time. That is to be expected.
You look at a guy last year like Calvin Davis. He was extremely young, and he missed a year of high school football, so his progress has been good to see. Warren Holloway is a senior, and he has stepped it up another notch and he has a tremendous attitude. He wants to make the most of his opportunity and that is evident by the way he is practicing right now.
On the other side, Ed Hinkel is healthy and he played well two years ago for us. Matt Melloy is a guy that we have had good feelings about and he continues to progress. So I think those guys right there have really done a good job for us, and they are the core of our receiving group right now.
It's going to be interesting to watch that thing. That is open for competition. You will see Ed (Miles) in there. I think both guys have done a good job in practice. We have had a guy like Grant Steen there for a long time, and then still being stable there before him. Hopefully that will be a smooth transition.
Q: Have you been satisfied with special teams?
So far, so good. We are counting on David a lot, and I think he is poised to have a good year. Kyle has been doing a good job in practice, but it will be interesting to see how things go when they count. But he certainly has the talent. From a core special teams standpoint, we are really excited about what we are seeing. We feel that our guys have the right attitude, and if we can stay healthy, we have a chance to have a good core of special teams. We have to be careful with how we use some of these guys, and having two backs out this week (Simmons and Lewis), we have to be smart and make sure we are not overburdening guys.
You look at a guy like Sean Considine; a couple of years ago, Dallas Clark got mad if you took him off of special teams, yet he was doing so much for us on offense. Sean is the same type of guy. He would like to be on every team. That would be great, but we have to be smart as to how many snaps we give him in a game.
Kirk on the Running Backs
Both Marcus Schnoor and Albert Young are doing a great job. We anticipated that would be the case with Marcus, the way he has done things for quite some time. We have great confidence in him, and Albert is a guy that we felt great about last year. We liked him last fall, and then he had the setback. But he came back this spring and did a nice job and he has had a good camp, too. They are both ready to go.
Q: Do you know how the reps at running back will be handled?
We have not talked in detail about it, but it's fair to say that both Marcus and Albert will play an awful lot. We are comfortable with both of those guys. After that, it's a little bit of a concern. Sam Brownlee has had some problems (injury) in camp, and we expect him to be 100% this week, but I don't know his game shape level at this point. We are a little thin right now in available backs.
Based on what we have seen, I don't think any of us are concerned about either of those players. We have not seen Albert tackled live in action, but I think he will respond well, and I know Marcus will, too. We felt coming in this year that we would have three quality backs.
Q: Do you have any expectations for this season?
I've never had a timeline, even when we first started here. I really didn't. It's hard to have one. We encourage our players to worry about what is in front of you. That being said, you have to look down the road a little bit. But we never put any parameters on how many wins we want. This is a new adventure. This is a totally different ball club than we have had in the past. Everything is sports is different each year. Hopefully it will be fun.
Did you talk with Bob Sanders during the last few weeks?
I called him twice, and he never returned my call. But that was how it was when he was here, so I didn't expect anything different (laughed). If you look at the facts of the matter…he is not practicing now, so I think you can probably put two and two together as to what was going on during the negotiations. I have a little inside information on that one. So it's not coincidental how things are working out right now the way they are. And that is as far as I will go on that one.
Q: Do you think the players know who the Ironmen were?
They don't have a deep appreciation. They are wearing the helmets and shoes right now, to get them both broken in. They will get the jerseys on game day, and that will be exciting for them. To answer your question, we will probably give them a little bit about the history points of what the 1939 team was all about.
Our first year in 1999, they honored a group of those guys in our opening ball game…we probably should have gone home right after that ceremony…that group came to practice and they shared some thoughts with the team and that was fantastic.
Q: What do you expect to see from Kent State
Coach Martin was an offensive coordinator, and I don't think you are going to see them deviate from what worked last year. We expect the same package. The biggest question for us is that defensively, we are having a hard time getting ready for this game. (Their former coach) was defensive minded and now they have a new coordinator, the guy that came in from Youngstown State, so that is one package. They have the mix of the Miami of Ohio package. So we are not quite sure what to expect Saturday. You factor that in with how many new players we have offensively, it could be interesting in the early going. Hopefully we will be able to handle what we might see, and hopefully we are right on our predictions.