Coach Don Soldinger Q&A

Running Backs Coach Don Soldinger is in his 15th season as an assistant at Miami. Currently he is in his ninth year as running backs coach. With the loss to starting tailback Frank Gore for the season, Jason Geathers has moved back from wide receiver to running back. Soldinger took time to answer questions about Geathers.

What do you remember about him when he was at Spanish River High School?

He was an athlete. He was a quarterback and a defensive back. He did a lot of different things. I knew his coach and his coach said that he was the best athlete he has ever coached.

Was he a receiver at Miami strictly because he wanted to be?

Yes he wanted to do it. He probably should have been a running back from the beginning. I think he is a big-time player.

Will he primarily be a running back or will he work on being a wide receiver also?

He will strictly be a tailback.

Talk about his willingness to move back and forth with positions over the last two years?

We have done that with a lot of kids in a lot of positions. If you are going to win football games at this level with 85 scholarships you better be able to do that otherwise you are not going to be real good. You get kids hurt and you better have a lot of flexibility. I don't think any kid can play just one spot especially in the backfield. You get beat up so much in the backfield, you better have a little bit of depth.

Will it be hard for him to adjust to being a running back even though he has not played there this year?

No I don't think so. He has played there before. He runs great routes. He is excellent. Take a look at the big games last year against Florida, Florida State and Tennessee. He averaged nearly 100 yards per game for us. He just has not been playing a lot for us this year.

It says a lot about him being unselfish in moving positions, how exactly is he?

He always has been. He never moans about anything. He just wants to play.

How quickly can a guy return to the backfield and find holes again?

He is pretty natural so it's not that hard for him. It is just a matter of doing it. Even as a young guy he understood what we were trying to do. He is just a natural back there.

Where does he fit on the depth chart with Jarrett Payton and Tyrone Moss?

I am going to use all three of them and we'll see how it goes. Tyrone is not ready and the biggest thing is pass protection, but he is an excellent back up.

What are the differences in styles between Geathers and Payton?

Jarrett is a little more physical guy and is an excellent pass protector. He has good hands out of the backfield. He got tired last week and he has not been called on to play that many snaps. I think Jarrett would be a lot better playing 35 snaps a game. Jason could be more physical, but he just has to get back his steps. As far as picking it up I don't think it will be a problem.

What are your thoughts on having fresh running backs in the game?

I think that is one of the reasons Frank did not have a huge game. Willis was an unusual back. I have always thought that you do better with a running back by committee. Even when E.J. was here Jackson played quite a bit. Then Portis played a lot when J.J. was here. I don't think you are as good if you are in there for over 70 plays compared to if you were in there for 35-40 plays.

Why did you move away from that?

I have always had guys that were close. I don't think anybody was really that close to McGahee. He was head and shoulders above everyone else.

Does it make it more difficult for him given the opponent? Would you prefer him to have played against a lesser opponent?

It is going to be more difficult for everybody. This is like playing us. How would you like to play us? That's what this game is about. Us playing us. That's what it comes down to. You have to make fewer mistakes, keep working hard, and keep swinging. I wish he had more snaps and I think it would help him. His natural ability will come through.

Christopher Stock is a Staff Columnist for CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at stock@grassy.com.

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