Tiger Authority.com recently got the chance to visit with new Head Football Coach Justin Fuente to get this thoughts on several topics on the minds of most Tiger fans.
TigerAuthority Question: You just completed your first spring as the head coach of the Memphis Tigers, give us your initial thoughts when you arrived on the job compared to where you feel you are now.
Coach Justin Fuente's Answer: The attitudes of our players have improved greatly since we arrived. They have really bought into what we are doing as a coaching staff. They are being accountable to each other and to this coaching staff on the things we are asking them to do.
TigerAuthority Question: What was the one thing you wanted to see improvement in from the players on your team?
Coach Justin Fuente's Answer: Learning accountability was one of the main things. Learning how we practice and how we expected them to practice on a daily basis. How to be a good teammate and how hard we expected them to work and the tempo we wanted to practice at.
TigerAuthority Question: What was your biggest surprise coming out of spring ball?
Coach Justin Fuente's Answer: The play of the defensive line. They really are a physically mature group that played really consistency and well through the spring for us. The improvement of several key guys, got a lot better during the spring, we still have a lot of work to do. The overall improvement at several positions was a pleasent surprise.
TigerAuthority Question: How would you assess your team offensively at this point?
Coach Justin Fuente's Answer: A long way to go. I'm pleased at some positions. We started to develop an understanding on how to play and practice. Got to improve on our killer instinct and attitude. We made larger strides in this area during the spring, but still have a long way to go.
TigerAuthority Question: How would you assess your team defensively at this point.
Coach Justin Fuente's Answer: Definitely the most consistent unit on our team. Not nearly where they need to be. We can't give up the big play. Day in and day out the most solid unit on our team. We still have some depth issues and we need to mature a little at some spots. I'm encouraged by the potential some of those guys have at those spots.
TigerAuthority Question: What is going to be your biggest challenge rebuilding this Memphis Football team?
Coach Justin Fuente's Answer: We have to change the team's expectation levels, their accountability level, their toughness level and change the overall culture on this football team. We already have some guys willing to do that, but we have to get everyone to buy in and do what we ask.
TigerAuthority Question: When will you realized you have accomplished the things you are asking the team to do.
Coach Justin Fuente's Answer: When something goes wrong and how we react will tell the tale. When something goes wrong and the player points his finger at someone else, is not what we are looking for. We are looking for the type of player that will point the finger to himself in the mirror. Those are the kind of guys we need to get where we want to go on this football team. We have to learn to pull together instead of pulling father apart.