Chatting with the coaches

Comments from head coach Nick Saban and offensive and defensive coordinators Jimbo Fisher and Will Muschamp from Sunday's LSU Football Media Day.

 

HEAD COACH NICK SABAN

"I have been very pleased with what we have been able to accomplish to this point in the seven practices that we have had to this point.  We have gotten a lot of work done, and we have a lot of carry over from some of the older players. We have some young players on the team that have made significant amount progress. That obviously will help our team because we do have a very, very young team. I think we have something like nine seniors on our team, and probably well over 50-plus guys that are first incoming freshman or have been here for one year. It's going to be important that those guys mature, and add a kind of chemistry that we need to this team.

 

"As I have talked about before, what the team accomplished last year was special, but there is a uniqueness to being able to get people to have the kind of chemistry that we had last year. It is difficult to get 11 people in any walk of life to go do something together and to do it in a special way, and every body buy into what you need to do to make it special. It is pretty unique. That is a challenge for this team. The mindset that this team has in trying to do that is very important. I think it is even more difficult to do once you have accomplished it, and I think our mindset as I said before has to be about this is a new year. I know you are going to ask me about the rankings, but basically we are ranked this year because of what we accomplished last year. We have not won a game this year. Right now that (preseason ranking) will have no bearing on anything at the end of the year unless we play well as a team and have success in the games we play, and our focus is to do that.

 

"Same example as I used before, we are at base camp. We are at the bottom of the mountain. We have a tremendous opportunity to climb a mountain that has a lot of challenges, very treacherous and is going to be very difficult, and that has got to be our mindset. I'm not sure that I was one hundred percent pleased at the mindset of our team when we came in, which I articulated when they ran their tests, but I have been pleased with the mind set of the since we started practice. The one thing we are trying to emphasize with our players is consistency. Every day they go on the field they get better of they get worse; you don't stay the same.

 

"Every football player this time of year is sore tired, some muscle somewhere hurts. So it is difficult that when you walk to the gate to come on the practice field, mentally to make yourself push through those very unpleasant feelings of being hurt, tired, empty physically and mentally and emotionally about getting up at playing football at seven each morning to eleven at night. But, that is the way it is supposed to be, and that is a good thing. I think it will condition our players, and serve them well in the future.

 

"I have been pleased with the progress of most of the players that we expect to be the bell cows. You may call them or refer to them as leaders, but I think just because you're a good player doesn't make you a leader. I think the example you set is a part of leader ship. We certainly have some guys that are setting a very good example out there in how they go about their work every day, and what they do and how they affect other people, and that's a part of leadership. I have been pleased with that. I am talking about guys like Joseph Addai and Justin Vincent at running back, Skyler Green as receiver with some young guys around him, (Andrew) Whitworth, Ben Wilkerson in the offensive line, and Nate Livings. I'm pleased with Kyle Williams, Marcus Spears up front on defense. Cameron (Vaughn) has had a very good camp so far. Corey Webster and Travis Daniels have done a nice job out there so, those are the kind of some of the core guys that I think have come back and done outstanding so far in this camp."

 

 

LSU Offensive Coordinator Jimbo Fisher

"To give you a brief summary of how things have gone … we are very pleased. I think our young guys are making a lot of progress and we are working hard and our old guys are taking a leadership role and developing on some things to helping the young guys come along because they got help last year by our guys. We've got some big challenges ahead of us and we know that. Very pleased with the progress our guys are making, we know we aren't there yet. We've got a lot of work to do, but we are making headway. The last few days I've seen a lot more positive things. Some of our young guys, the first two or three days, they were swimming pretty good. We go back and repeat what we put in the first three or four days and they are starting to get more of it. The execution is starting to get better. We've got a long ways to go, but Rome wasn't built in a day."

 

(on the offense)

"I say this every year but on offense you have to feature the players. The players you have that have experience, you have to get the ball in their hands, you have to be versatile enough that you can feature your different guys on offense. The basis of our offense won't change, but how we tweak it or turn it or who touches it, may change just a little based on experience and who is playing well at the time. I don't think you'll see major changes. I just think you may see us trying to feature different guys with the ball. Last year our skill guys were a strength going in and our running backs were inexperienced. This year I think it will be just flipped so we still have to be as I call it, a two-headed monster where you've got to have balance. We still have to be able to run it and throw it. But how we do it will depend on how we develop the quarterback and the young guys, how our progress comes."

 

(quarterback reps)

"The way we practice, the way coach (Saban) has it set up, it's not hard with reps because we split our team in half. We keep half on one field and half on the other so they are getting an equal number of reps. So the way coach does it really helps in the way of getting reps. Not everybody is standing on one field you're getting three reps. That develops each guy getting the exact same amount of reps with the same plays. We get the film evaluated every day so by the way we practice I think really helps us when we have the situation of three guys like we have now."

 

(Corey Webster on offense)

"I think he's batting 1.000. Everyday he comes over for about 2 or 3 plays and we throw him 2 or 3 balls and he makes 2 or 3 big plays. I can't remember us throwing one incompletion to him. He comes over, gets his reps, does it and has been phenomenal in his retention of the offense and knowing what to do. I guess being friends with Marcus (Randall) doesn't hurt. Corey's done a great job going both ways and he made a play, made a good play every day he's come over."

 

(about quarterbacks again)

"I think every quarterback different in their own way. Marcus (Randall) is really in the last two or three days starting to take a lot of qualities that Matt had of controlling things and being consistent on things. Marcus' strength has always been his athletic ability when things broke down, he could ad lib and run and make plays. But now what he is learning to do is stay in the pocket and makes good decisions and pick up blitzes and in the last couple of days has done a much better job. If you can pick up Coach Saban's blitzes you can pick up anybody's blitzes. JaMarcus' (Russell) big strength is size, vision. You forget about the vision. He does such a good job because he can see a lot of things the other guys can't just because of pure size. He has the strength and the ability to get the ball there. Matt (Flynn) is kind of the in between of both of them. He is more like Matt Mauck in a lot of ways. He can run, makes good decisions, throws it well. They are all similar and they are all very good athletes and in each, strength is just a little bit different."

 

(on Marcus adapting to the quarterback race)

"Marcus has been with team the whole way. He has never put himself above the team and understanding even when he was the backup he was one play away, that he was as vital to us as anybody. Like I say you are one play away from playing. I really appreciate his patience to get the opportunity that he has gotten and he's starting to run with it. I see him developing every day, taking a bigger role and feeling more confident in the role he's in. You can't say enough. Marcus is a super young man. We've been very fortunate, at least the guys I've coached at quarterback on this team. Whenever the battle has been there, they've never let it, where the team is littler than they are. They've never put themselves in front of the team and he has never done that and now it's paying off for him because he has a great opportunity and he's doing a good job with it."

 

(on college experience)

"In college if you can get a guy to stay five years it's a miracle. Guys don't do it anymore in any sport. Basketball and baseball I don't know how they get along. In football, it takes time and the quarterback position, not that it's better, there are so many variables and the knowledge and the number of reps and that comfort zone you get in by doing it day in and day out and to get it for the fifth year, I think is a huge advantage and I bet that if you look at the track record of anybody that keep them that long, I bet it's pretty good because the retention level of those guys is good and they've seen so many different things happen. They've seen the situations happen to the guy that is in front of them in practice. The knowledge they've gained from just being there for five years is just tremendous and it's hard to fool guys who've been there five years. I think that's the biggest thing.

 

(Skyler Green)

"We've challenged him. The last two or three days he's really pushed through practice. He's really starting to emerge. He's always been a great guy with the ball in his hands, punt return, when you handed it to him, little quick game, but what Skyler is learning to do is play beyond 10 yards down the field now. He is becoming a much better route runner, understanding coverage, getting in holes, getting in places and he's really developing into a receiver. Again, it's the experience. We always knew when the ball was in his hand, he was great, but now Skyler is taking his game another step and learning to play over 10 yards down the field. It's not quick throws it's now getting open understanding playing without the ball. He's a guy who always had the ball in high school and it takes time for those guys to learn how fast they have to play without it to get it. Every time else in his life they handed it to him and he ran around everybody. And he's really taken on that role as a receiver and getting better.

 

(Young receivers)

"We've been pleased. They are making progress. Some of those freshmen those guys are all learning and the last couple of days it's starting to come back to them. Amp's (Hill) out there practicing and that's been encouraging. He's still got some work to do and getting all the way back. But the strides he's made from the spring have been good. The competition has been good and that's what's great. They are wanting spots, they want on the field and the competition is pushing each guy's level of play up every day. I think they are making a lot of progress."

 

(On red shirt freshman QBs)

"I was a nervous wreck when Joseph Addai, Shyrone Carey and those guys went down and Justin and Alley had never carried the ball and they went over there. Sometimes guys when the lights come on have that knack of playing. I think those two young guys (JaMarcus, Matt) did not waste their red shirt year. They prepared and worked as if they were in the game plan and I think if that situation occurred would be very good for us because their knowledge of the offense is far above the freshman I've ever been exposed to."

 

(Coach Saban)

"I think the way Coach handles himself and handles our program, his team and his team dynamics and the things he does is as good as I've ever been around. He's always thinking ahead. He has never let it change him. He's been humble and taking his rewards as he should, but he hasn't varied. He always thinking two days ahead before things happen and what he says and how he wants to present it to the team. I think it's been super for our team because he's kept their focus and not let us get complacent in what we are doing, but we still had fun with it. We still enjoyed it, we still knew we had won, but we knew that was over and we had to go do another one. The way he handles the team's mental preparation is as good as any I've been around."

 

 

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR WILL MUSCHAMP

"We've got seven practices under our belt, and we're pleased so far with the progress of our defense. We still have a lot of things to work on and we've got a short time to get there. The opener against Oregon State is going to be an exciting opener and got a great opportunity. They finished at or near the top of the Pac-10 in about every offensive category, and our kids know the challenges ahead of them."

 

"We've got to continue to develop toughness on our football team on defense, continue to develop depth on our defense. We lost four good starters last year, and more than anything we lost a lot of good backups that gave us a lot of quality snaps. Right now that is really what we are trying to do is develop those guys, develop some guys up front, at linebacker and a couple of more guys in the secondary that can step up and play some quality snaps for us."

 

"I'm sure I'll be answering about what freshmen are going to play. I can tell you we've practiced seven times, and I don't think you really get a true indication of who is going to contribute until after the first scrimmage. That's really the first big test when they're out there on their own, playing on their own, making the calls and doing the things they've got to do to be successful."

 

"We're very pleased with the freshman class we've got. Up front right now Charles Alexander, Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson are three kids that have really progressed well for us. Tim Washington has been out a little bit with an injury. He came back yesterday, and we are pleased with his progress. Marlon Favorite and Tremaine Johnson have done some good things as well. We've got big guys up front that move and change direction well from the freshman class, and we're pleased with those guys so far."

 

"I think, obviously, our junior college signees are going to help us. E.J. Kuale, a linebacker, is a guy who has really come along. He's got a quick change of direction, a fast burst, is an instinctive player, and we're playing him at SAM linebacker right now. We're pleased with him. Claude Wroten, of course, was with us in the spring. Claude's really practicing hard, practicing well, a lot of toughness, a lot of things he adds to the table on our football team. Kenny Hollis is a kid we signed a year ago and were able to redshirt this past season has really progressed well, and we're pleased with him. We signed him out of East Mississippi Junior College. Mario Stevenson, of course, was with us in the spring. Those are four good additions for us from the junior college ranks along with the high school freshmen we signed."

 

"We've got some good guys progressing in the secondary and at linebacker. We're pleased with where we are, but we've got a lot of work to do. There's no question about it. We've still got a lot of questions to be answered as far as depth, some positions we need more guys to step up that we can rely on. But I guarantee you this, we'll work at it."


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