Q&A with Manny Diaz

Read on to see what defensive coordinator Manny Diaz was saying following Thursday's practice.

Manny Diaz, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach
On overall thoughts on the first scrimmage…
“It’s like anything else, there is always good plays and bad plays. But I thought overall, No. 1 the thing you evaluate in a scrimmage is tackling, because we don’t get to tackle to the ground all that often. We tackled very well, there was not a lot of yards after contact, those type things. That’s good, we don’t get a lot of chances to do that. And the fact that we tackled, makes you hard to score on. You try not to give up big plays and get the ball on the ground. Run defense did a good job, too, so there was a lot of positive takeaways and then certainly a bunch of things that we still were not quite pleased with.” 

 

On the third and fourth best defensive tackle…
“Let’s see. I think [senior defensive lineman] Anthony Moten has definitely made some gains this spring. This is his last go round, so you would like to see him kind of have that urgency to realize that this is it and take every spring practice as if this is one more step to my last campaign, so he certainly has done a good job with that. And helping to push [junior defensive lineman Kendrick] Norton, [junior defensive lineman RJ] McIntosh, those guys. [Sophomore defensive lineman] Pat Bethel has shown that he belongs in there. First play of the scrimmage I think he might have sacked the quarterback, on the first play. Second play he split a double team, came off of him. But he is getting double teamed and he stays in there and gets in on the tackle. So he’s done some good things in there, as well.”

 

On the cornerbacks…

“It’s an incomplete right now. Most of the bad things that happened to us on Saturday, happened on the outside of the football field. But we knew that. I would say for both sides of the ball. I think our wide receiver room will look a lot different in the fall and I think our cornerback room will look a lot different in the fall. The guys are getting better, but we tell them we only have so many reps because we need to find out when these new guys come in, in August, what they can do.”

 

On junior linebacker Charles Perry making competition for sophomore linebacker Zach McCloud…
“Let me say this, one, Zach is hard to catch. And not because of his natural talent. But it’s because he and [sophomore linebacker] Shaq [Quarterman] really are just guys that want to do it. If you tell them to do it 10 times they would do it 11. So they are very difficult people to catch because they are obviously talented, but their work ethic, their demeanor, their professionalism is really extraordinary for their age. So, that can be frustrating for a guy like Perry, but he still knows he has a role to play. He came in during the Virginia Tech game a year ago when Zach hurt his arm and really played well in the second half of that game. One thing we are for certain this year, especially in the front seven, we are deeper. And our depth is experienced depth and I anticipate that being the telling in the way we play in the fall.”

 

On sophomore linebacker Michael Pinckney in comparison to Zach McCloud and Shaquille Quarterman…
“More inconsistent then those other two. But like I said, those other two are kind of off the chart type guys. It’s not necessarily an indictment on [Michael] Pinckney. But yeah, he is learning that he has to bring it every day to be classified as a big time guy. We challenge our guys all the time. If you are going to be one of those guys on the wall at the practice field, that is a daily standard that you have to reach. And it is not easy to reach, which is why there aren’t that many guys on the wall.”

 

On senior defensive lineman Chad Thomas…

“I think Chad [Thomas] is an improved player from where he finished the season. I think the challenge for Chad is putting it all together and allowing it to happen on game day. So for us, a game day was last Saturday in the scrimmage. He is playing so much better, but he can be so much better. In terms of being the force that makes the play, doesn’t almost make a play. You know what I mean? Sometimes I think there is some ‘almost’ that I think he can finish on.”


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