Who would be your starters on the DL for Saturday?
Kenny is a no brainer. He is ready to go, as he practiced on Sunday. Matt Kroul, those two guys for sure. After that, it's kind of a coin toss. We wouldn't have moved Mike Follett unless he had an excellent chance to be in that mix. If I had to project, I think Mitch King will factor in. Bryan Mattison is another guy that would have been one of those guys. Ted Bentler will probably be playing one of the ends and he has done some good things. Nate Roos has been solid.
Based on this spring, the two guys that have been most consistent have been Matt and Kenny.
You seem to be plugging the DL with Tyler Luebke clones with Mitch King and Kroul. Do you see some Luebke in these guys?
I will start with Mike Follett. Going into spring, we were not sure with the outside backer position, and Ed Miles has made great strides. He is practicing with the kind of consistency that we have not seen, so that afforded us the luxury of looking at Mike. He makes sense, because he dropped his weight down to 240, and he is back up to 260. He has played with his hand on the ground at tight end, and there is some carry over there blocking at tight end against a defensive linemen. That made sense to us.
Then in Mitch's case, we have had some guys nicked up and the thing that afforded us that opportunity, though we liked him at linebacker, is that Mike Klinkenborg is another guy that has practiced well this spring. He was hurt last fall, but he was out there most of the time but he was never himself.
Between he and Ed Miles, we have a couple of guys that have taken the step where those guys could start games and we would be in good shape. So that afforded us the chance to have Mitch in there. So we are robbing Peter to pay Paul, because we are not deep at linebacker. But with his toughness and motor, we feel he could develop into a pretty good football player for us. He has shown a knack.
How has George Eshareturi looked?
George has been OK. The other guys have done better, that is all. Hopefully he will pick it up.
Alex Willcox, will he be in the mix when he comes back?
Right now, nobody has a spot outside of Matt and Kenny. I think Brian was on the road to establishing one. Whatever we write down in the summer for the media guide, outside of Ken and Matt is guesswork. We expect Alex and Ettore to be involved and compete for playing time.
Is there a chance that if Mike (Follett) shows something that Bryan (Mattison) could move inside?
Yeah, that is possible. We are open to anything. We will try to get the four best guys out there. But that being said, it could be six or eight best and a freshman could factor in there. None of the coaches will know til mid to late August, then it may be an ongoing process. I would not rule out anyone.
Is Bentler an end or a tackle?
He is playing both, but we have worked him more at the end position this spring. He started out inside, but we moved him more outside.
So with the kids coming in, you might have 15 guys you are looking at?
Yes, its in that ballpark. But we will try to sift through it early. I can see us trying to work 10 guys the first couple of weeks.
Is that the only position you are in the dark on going into the fall?
Well, there are a lot of questions to answer there. We know our two starters at receiver, but there are questions after that. The punter position is up for grabs, we need to learn more about our tight ends. Our backup linebacker position is fuzzy because we have moved some guys. We feel comfortable with Follett on the outside. Klinkenborg has looked good at both the Mike and Will positions. We are trying to figure some things out in the defensive backfield with Paschal being out, and then we will learn a lot this fall at the running back position until we see them our performing.
How has Charles Godfrey looked?
He has done a good job. The debate was prior to Marcus' injury was do we work him at corner? But we have not had that luxury.
What is your assessment of the offensive line?
We are a lot more experienced than we were a year ago. Marhal Yanda has done a good job; he is the only newcomer in the mix. We are deeper, we don't have a Gallery, but we have a solid group.
David Walker has bounced back?
He is rusty right now and has a lot of work to do. He has been injured so much since he has been here, but he has been here start to finish for the 12 practices thus far. He has had a tough road. Last year, you couldn't have had a more rough year. With the Achilles and then comes off of that.
I think he played 12 snaps then shifted a stance, unbeknownst to us and play five more snaps and then boom. He had a rotten year, so it has been a positive. He is not ready to play Big Ten level football yet, but he is moving in the right direction. It's just good to have him out there working through things.
Outside of Klinkenborg, who are your backup linebackers?
Klinkenborg, Klinkenborg and Klinkenborg. The few, the proud, the three. There are just a few guys out there. Zach Gableman is healthy and he has done solid at MLB. We were happy with Mitch there. We are toying around. Humpal is still out, but we think we have a chance to get him in August and we are banking on Brevi coming back and being more mature than he was a year ago, which he should be. So we are banking on some things.
Do any true freshmen have an inside track?
It'ss more by position. We are intrigued to see what the defensive linemen can do. The running backs, possibly. But we will have to see what our health situation will be there and what they show. We will be open to everybody.
What has Majerus done that has you talking about him making strides?
He has gotten better and is playing with a lot more confidence. I use the term young player some times and I don't mean it in a demeaning way, but young players play young. They are not as confident; they are not as stout, not as decisive. He has always been a hard working guy, but you can see it paying off. He looks more mature and comfortable. It's in everything he does. You can project him to help our football team now. I think he will be good on special teams, too. You hope players do that and he is on that path right now.
Some guys jump out at you, and he is one of them. Klinkenborg and Ed Miles have made big strides, too. Mike Jones. Even though he has played, he is totally a different guy right now. Experience means so much.
Did Mike Jones wants to play tackle?
The thing we were guilty of as coaches last year is that he was a young guy. It's his second year on campus. He is young for his class, too. In the old days, guys came and sat for two years and played three. Here he is two years into this, going into year three and he has played a year and a half. He is maturing, too. He is able to take the experience he has gotten and make it work for him.
Is Brian Ferentz 100%?
I think pretty close. He has practiced pretty well. He is thrilled to be out there. Not that he likes practice.
After Saturday, what are the plans for your staff?
We will watch soap operas and play cards next week. Then the week after that, we will start recruiting. We take a week to clean things up. All of the coaches will interview their players next week. Basically, they have two jobs. Interview the players, talk things out, and then get organized to hit the road. We have been recruiting since signing day. That is basically it, then hit the road the next four weeks.
Do you feel any obligations to help your seniors prepare for the pros?
First of all, when I talk to high school coaches, I don't think its their job to produce college players and I don't think it's our job to produce professional players. I think it's a byproduct rather than objective
That being said, we try to be a full service outfit. I think we educate them about agent awareness. We try to school them on what to expect, at the appropriate times, if they get that NFL opportunity and that it's really competitive; there are no scholarships. Nobody really cares about your feelings anymore. It's business. They need to understand that and they will be fine.
One thing that we do a heck of a job with, and this is Chris's (Doyle) department. He takes great strides in getting them ready for the combine. He is open for business all the time. The seniors have the opportunity to train with him during the off season. About 98 percent of the guys have stayed here to train with him since we have been here, and that is uncommon. A lot of schools you read about the guys going to Florida or Arizona to train, but our guys stay here. They believe in Chris for obvious reasons. The NFL people have all been very good in terms of our players asking them what to do, and tell them to ‘stay with Doyle, he is the guy.'
Chris doesn't get paid extra to do that. I have read of places where the strength coach charges players for that. What, are you kidding me? All of the sudden we are going to disown you? They are our guys. Chris does a great job with that and its beneficial for our guys.
Then the former guys come back. This year, Kampman, Gallery, Clark, you name it, all of those guys come through here and train some. Sharing those experiences helps, too.
I think we could have six or eight drafted or 8 to 10 get opportunities. It's a neat experience. After that, it's in their hands. But at least they will be ready.