Q: How beneficial is it to have two veteran guys like Jermauria Rasco and Danielle Hunter to anchor the defensive end position?
“Those guys are mature. They’re proven veterans. Both of them played well last year. Danielle takes on a new role as a starter and a guy that we expect a lot of good things out of. He’s a very talented guy. We’re excited about where he is. Those two guys together a good pair of ends, there’s no question about that. It’s always exciting when you got guys on the edge that have already proven they can play on this level.”
Q: How tight is the competition to fill out the two safety spots?
“It’s big right now. Who are the starting safeties? That’ll be determined. There are some guys that have played there with some experience coming back that’ll be in the mix. Right now we have as many as six guys battling for those two positions. Ronald Martin’s played a lot of football for us around here. We’ve got several guys that have done that. It’ll be a battle that’ll continue right up to game week.”
Q: How much did Quentin Thomas’ injury test those young defensive tackles to rise to the occasion?
“I don’t know that test is the right word. You have holes that you have to fill. Sometimes they’re unexpected but the next guy gets ready to go. We’ve got several guys that could be the next guy. It’s unfortunate for Quentin. I feel for him, but we can’t look back. We got to look forward and move on.”
**Editors Note: This interview was conducted before it was known Thomas’ injury wasn’t as severe as originally reported.
Q: What is it about Lewis Neal that allowed you to move him around to a couple different spots on the defensive line, and how will that rotation fill out behind the starters?
“He’s a guy that’s very talented. He gives you a little something different there. He and Frank Herron, Quay Bain, Greg Gilmore are all guys that’ll be in the mix for that position. We’re going to play more than two guys. It’s not about who the starter’s going to be. It’s who’s going to be in the rotation and who’s going to get snaps. We’ve got some young guys that we’re excited about and it’s there time now. They’ve got to shine.”
Q: What has been your impression of Davon Godchaux through the early part of camp?
“He’s off to a good start. We’re excited about that. We knew he was talented. He’s excited about being back on the field to be honest with you. It’s been a long time since he’s played in a game. He’s working thatw ay. He’s got a lot to learn. He’s a true freshman but he has some maturity that a lot of true freshmen don’t have in terms of his ability to play well against big guys. He holds the point real well. We’ll see how it goes, but we’re excited about what we’ve seen out of him.”
Q: Has it been frustrating not having Travonte Valentine here yet?
“We got what we got. We can only worry about so many guys. We’re going to go with what we have out there and coach them up. We’re going to get them ready to play and that’s what you do.”
Q: How much has that group of defensive tackles from the 2013 class improved from where they were a year ago?
“They are steadily making improvement. I’ve been pleased with their progress. These guys have worked their butt off. They had a good summer. I’m excited to watch them play. Everyday is a learning experience for them, but they continue to get better day in and day out.”
Q: How much has Christian Lacouture accepted his role of being the leader of that group?
“He’s been a good leader for us ever since he’s been here. He hasn’t changed any in that aspect. Do we ask him to take a bigger role? No, not necessarily. We want him to continue to do the things he’s been doing and work at the things he knows are his strengths. He does that very well. He’s a great guy to have in that circle for those young guys.”
Q: Frank Herron pretty quickly made the move to defensive tackle once he arrived. What was behind that move, and how has he blossomed since he made it?
“His weight. He continued to eat a lot. As you get bigger, you move closer to the ball. But he’s had a great summer, worked his butt off. He gave himself an opportunity, and he felt that was his natural position. Now hopefully it’ll pay off for him.”
Q: How has Lewis Neal accepted a move to defensive tackle, and how important is it for those defensive linemen to have that versatility?
“The one thing about our room is that those guys are joined at the hip. It’s about team, not just about “me.” A lot of guys are asked to do things they wouldn’t normally do. But they accept that role and they keep moving. That’s what it’s all about. It’s about being a unit, not an individual. He’s been ecstatic about it. He’s a great guy, great attitude. The situation’s going to work out for everybody.”
Q: There’s no denying that Danielle Hunter is a physical specimen. But what else is it about him that sets him apart from the rest?
“Danielle’s a guy that you want to respect, not necessarily in football but just because of the person he is, the attitude he has and the love he has for the game. He’s a total guy. It’s not like he’s just a football player. He’s not just the first guy off the bus. He has great stature. The thing about Danielle is he has great attitude. He’s going to do the things he needs to do to get better.”
Q: What have you seen from your two freshmen defensive ends — Sione Teuhema and Deondre Clark?
“I’ve been very pleased with their progress so far in terms of them picking up the system and doing things properly. They’re able to play with some intensity and fast. That’s been great for us, and I’m looking forward to seeing them this fall and see where the fit, their niche for this program.”