We're really excited about the start of spring practice. Our guys have been really working in the off-season. What we're trying to do is just build a team concept here. No one is pleased what's happened over the last three years but what I really like about our kids is there's been no resistance or resentment they've just come to work each day. One of our mantra's has be 'Take Another Step.' It's really important as we go into spring ball we're going to have to [work on] fundamentals. There's a lot of excitement in the community and I know it's a great honor for me to be the head coach at the University of Louisville. The passion and excitement in this community is unbelievable and everybody wants a winner.
On the team's response to coaching change
I've been really accepted here by the players and with their attitude. I know by the way the players have worked that they want to win. It's amazing how well they've worked. We have a new strength coach in Pat Moorer and he said each day the guys came to work. The overall attitude of this team right now is great.
On the start of spring practice
I'm really ready to go. Just going through the off-season, going through recruiting now we finally get a chance to see what we really have. I'm just excited to see that football team take the field and practice.I think they want that to happen because of what happened last season. We have a whole new coaching staff and it will give us a chance to see what they really can do. We're going to find out a whole lot once we get them out on the field.
On the player's taking ownership of the program
I've talked about ownership. I've talked about empowering guys. What I've told them is that if they are always looking toward me as the [leader]...someone has to be empowered on the team and the senior group has to develop ownership of this football team. When a problem arises, I want to take that player and sit him down in front of that senior group of guys who I feel comfortable enough can make a decision which direction we need to go. What I did during the off-season was divide up the team in eight different groups and took a senior and made him the leader of that group. I try to empower the seniors so they could develop ownership in this football team.
On goals for spring practice
We hope we get better each day and make progress. It's more fundamental. It's going to be a whole new system. It's going to be different fundamentals and different techniques. Can we get better each day? At the end of spring ball can we say we got better and learned the system?
On the quarterback position
It'll be split a bunch of different ways. Mike Sanford and his staff are going to run that. We're just hoping that at the end of the day somebody is going to come out on top.
On opening spring practice to the fans
It's really important and the thing I want the city of Louisville to understand is this is there football team, too. I want to give them a chance to come out and see this football team. I feel when players are practicing and they look and see fans watching then they feel more accepted. When we take the field in our stadium we want the fans in their seats and that's one reason I opened up practice. I want everybody to have ownership in this program.
On the returning team he inherited from the prior staff
I sit in the defensive meeting a lot and get a chance to watch the defensive players. There's a lot of room for improvement. There are a lot of defensive linemen coming back. There are not as many defensive backs or linebackers but I feel we have a good corps of defensive linemen. On offense we'd like to get some guys in there at wide receiver because we signed six in our recruiting class. Quarterback we were able to get two quarterbacks in Dominique Brown and Marcus Smith. The running back position I think is a solid position. We have enough guys at that position that we feel pretty comfortable. We need some wide receivers and depth at offensive line. Some guys who haven't played in this program need to step up now. I say all the time 'some of you guys are eating up scholarships.' If you're here you've got to contribute somewhere to this football team. There are no more days of just sitting here eating up a scholarship.
On Louisville's 4-8 2009 season
When you look at it...I think back to last year and we won four game but they were in ball games. It's not like we collapsed in the second half. So now let's go finish the game. Let's take another step and go finish the game. I don't know when we're going to get to that bowl game but we will get to a bowl game here.
On the pace of practice
We're going to go boom, boom, boom. There's going to be some tempo out there. I hope we're not standing around. I told the coaches I want an uptempo, upbeat practice and let's move around and get guys going because if you practice fast you will play fast. If you walk around in practice you're going to walk around everywhere else. I want an uptempo practice.
We're going to do a lot of things on offense. It's going to be the spread but we're going to have two-back sets and a lot of variety in our offense.
On off-season strength and condition workouts
I think our strength and conditioning coach Pat Moorer has done an outstanding job. Any time you change and come in there's some resistance. But he's been very pleased with the way guys have come in and worked. I think we've made tremendous strides in the strength and conditioning program. Each guy has really developed and reshaped their body in some way.
On players learning a new system
It's going to be tough at first and it's going to take some time. Through spring practice they should be able to pick things up.
On changing the culture of the program
We talk about core values and it's something we're not going to compromise. I tell them all the time we're not going to negotiate a core value. That's the way it's going to be. It's the same thing with ownership. You have to have ownership in a program and you have to empower someone to be a leader. Once we get players to stand up on this football team and say they're tired of losing, tired of this happen we'll go forward. Once that happens we're going to change the whole culture around here and we're trying to change the culture.