Clemson Head Coach, Tommy Bowden
On preparation for the season opener:
"There has been nothing done differently as far as preparation. Nothing has been done differently as far as practice, when you go out in shorts, when you go out in shells. The only difference with Wake Forest is instead of having about three days to prepare, we've had a considerable more time to prepare. Nothing has changed though as far as time on the field, the number of scrimmages in the stadium, or how much 1's go against 2's. Will the extra practice time help us? I hope so, we have been working on them for a long time. We certainly need to stop th run, they have gained over 600 yards on the ground against us the last two years.
On preseason expectations:
"The expectations are probably based on performances by last year's team. This year's team hasn't accomplished anything. The teams that finish ranked in the top 10 start fast and finish fast and are pretty solid in the middle. Those are things you have to do and things you talk about, and they are things we haven't done, at least since I've been here. We started fast in 2000 and ended fast last year, but we haven't put it all together for an entire season yet."
On Wake Forest's Offensive Line:
"They are really aggressive, which to me that is how the game is played. You just look at them with envy. To me it comes from coaching personality. It really is a credit to Coach Grobe and their offensive line coach."
On gaining more yards rushing:
"I'm more interested in scoring than running or throwing. If I could win the game and throw for 300 and rush for 85 I'd be completely happy. I don't have a set number of yards that need to be gained to deem it successful."
On last year's game at Wake Forest:
"I think 99.9% of the time teams around the country when they win the coin toss, defer, I know I do. Last year when we played Wake Forest they won it and took the ball. You talk about confidence, they took the ball and went 80 yards in about 8 plays. They took it and scored again and again and again.
Wake Forest won't be intimidated at all. I have the utmost respect for Coach Grobe and his team. They have the respect of all of our players, that is for sure.
Duke Head Coach, Ted Roof
"We're excited that it's finally game week. It's finally here. All the conversation, all the preparation, all the other stuff, we finally get ready to play a football game against an opponent. We're really excited about the opportunity to do that."
On preparing for Navy
"We've got a ways to go. We have some work to get done this week. Usually (for the first game of the season) you start preparing for the opponent around Thursday, so you get a week and a couple of days. But because of the nature of the opponent, we started a couple days early. Last Tuesday we actually started working on a lot of Navy stuff. We mixed in some good speed work and some good-versus-good to keep everything sharp, but the focus is 100 percent on Navy. I know it sounds coach-ish and clichéd, but we really haven't talked about any game except Navy. All those other games will come in time, but I want us worrying about Navy."
On starting the season with three road games
"I've thought about it and that's the way it is. I don't want our players wasting any energy on things they can't control. They tell us where we're going to play, where we're playing and what time, so I don't want us worrying about stuff we can't control. You'd like to play all your games at home, but we can't control that. We're playing them at Navy so we have to get ready to go."
On playing at Navy
"It's one of the neat venues in college football, with all the tradition and the pageantry, but I don't want our guys worrying about that. I want them worrying about the guys who are trying to hit them in the mouth. Those are the guys who are going to be defending our country and thank goodness there are people like that, who want to do that with their lives, but this Saturday, their football team is trying to beat our football team. It's a football game, so we need to get ready to play football."
"They've got 15 starters returning and the thing that kind of gets lost in the shuffle is that they have 18 senior starters. That's a lot of experience. And with the success they had last year, confidence and experience is a pretty good combination. I have a lot of respect for Paul Johnson and the job he's done at Navy. He's done a wonderful job. They make you be very, very precise in your preparation. Everything they do on the offensive side of the ball is a read, where you have to take care of the dive, you have to take care of the quarterback and you have to take care of the pitch. They don't beat themselves. They make you beat them. They're committed to what they do and they have answers. The `almosts' won't get it done against a team like this. It's the precision that will help you beat Navy."
On Navy Head Coach Paul Johnson and his program's progress
"I think his kids bought into his system and he's won everywhere he's been, regardless of what level it was, he's won everywhere. And that option game is a big equalizer. They bought into it and they live it every day of their lives. What they're trained to do is fight for the duration of the battle, what the Naval Academy trains them to do. That, in combination with an offense that makes you be perfect in how you defend it, that's part of the reason for his success. But he's a good coach and he's surrounded himself with good coaches and I also think they're recruiting better players, too."
"Coaches do hate preparing for a team like this because of the fact that you have to be so exact. But all I can say about that is thank goodness we open up with them. We've had to get ready for teams that play this style on short weeks and it's tough. It's still tough now, don't get me wrong, but any added preparation time is a bonus."
On managing the game against Navy's option style
"In a normal game, you get about 12 possessions. When you play the Naval Academy, you get seven, maybe eight, because of the time of possession, because of when the clock ticks. So each possession is critical as far as taking care of the football. It can be a very short game and that's what frustrates you when you play against teams that play this style: they get it and they don't give it back. All downs and distances are critical, but first down defense is very critical because if they're getting four or five yards on first down, then it's second and five. Then they get three and it's third and two, then it's fourth and one or fourth and a half-yard and they're going for it. Now you're banking on stopping a play for less than a half-yard and the percentages don't dictate that. So getting them off schedule early in the series of downs will be critical to our success on the defensive side, along with our ability to take care of the ball on offense."
On what a 1-0 start to the season would mean
"I think it would certainly give us some confidence and confidence is such a powerful thing. What we believe in, what we do, isn't based on one game. The foundation of our program is not based on what happens in one game, but maybe it will generate some enthusiasm outside the program, maybe dump some fuel on that fire."
On Ben Patrick
"We expect him to have a good season. And it's not hard to see how his teammates feel about him. He was elected captain as a redshirt sophomore. I haven't been around that too much. He comes to work every day, he pushes himself and he pushes his teammates. If you really want to know what he means to this team, ask his teammates."
On the offense
"The younger receivers have improved a lot since spring practice. I think they were a little confused during spring ball, but through practice, they've gotten better and I think they've made the older receivers better. As far as our identity on offense goes, our buzzword has to be `efficient.' We're not going to blow anybody away, but with the ball, we have to be efficient."
On the quarterback situation
"It says a lot when your backup quarterback (Chris Dapolito) is elected captain. I think the two of them (Dapolito and starter Mike Schneider) have great appreciation for each other. It hasn't been an adversarial relationship at all. They've just made each other better. Your quarterback is a guy who has to be in the game all the time. He can't be standing there drinking water, watching the cheerleaders and all of a sudden his number gets called. It's been a positive relationship for both of them."
On preparing for Navy's offense:
"We've been looking at films of it all summer because this is our first game and we knew that it was going to be hard to face. As far as practice, we went through camp and did our thing, learning the defenses and getting the freshmen ready to go. About halfway through last week, we really started looking at Navy stuff and practicing against Navy stuff. They were first in the nation as far as yards per game rushing, so that says enough right there. They make you play assignment football. If you don't play your assignment on every play, they'll find a way to pop one on you . You must be precise. If you're not, they will find a way to get down the field on you or to bust a big play."
On practicing to defend the option:
"It's not the most fun because it's pretty much the same stuff. There are not a wide range of things that they do, but they do what they do and they do it well. That makes you have to prepare that much harder."
On lessons learned from Andy Roland:
"Coming in as a true freshman, I had to learn how to block. That was the hardest thing for me. Andy Roland is a great blocker and I worked with him, met with him outside of football to talk about different techniques and what to practice. He's done a good job of pushing me in the process."
On starting the season with three road games:
"We deal with it one week at a time. We try not to look ahead and just look and that particular week and at that time and just take them how they come. That's how the cards were dealt, so that's how we're going to play."
On being named a team captain:
"I was very surprised, being as young as I am and being viewed by teammates as a captain of a football team. It is a tremendous honor to be chosen by your teammates and I really appreciate it and know that I have to step up each and every week and play hard. I come to work every day and I was here all summer and stayed as healthy as I could. I just try to produce every time. I just try to work hard every day."
On starting the season with three road games:
"Personally, it doesn't really bother me and I don't think it bothers that many guys on the team. I haven't heard that many guys dwelling over the fact that we're away for three weeks. More so, it's just the students around campus that are upset that they're not going to be able to tailgate at a home game for a while. For us, we're just worrying about Navy right now and the following week doesn't matter because we're just worried about going to Annapolis."
On the relative inexperience of the offense:
"There are a lot of young guys playing, but I think that there are enough players that didn't necessarily start, but got a lot of playing time that will make the transition easier. Jim Moravchik and Dan Mooney weren't starters in the past, but they got to play a lot of snaps. I think that there is enough experience to pull the new guys along and push them through the first few series' or games or whatever it takes."
On added pressure on the quarterback with the young offensive line:
"It puts pressure on everyone offensively to be efficient. You know mistakes are going to happen no matter who you play with, whether there's a senior or a freshman, so you really have to be prepared and efficient when things do break down. That puts pressure on everyone."
Georgia Tech Head Coach, Chan Gailey
Are there continuity concerns going into Saturday, offensive line in particular?
Yes, there is. It doesn't matter what the situation is. It doesn't matter who you are playing, when you are playing. If you have this much disruption in your offensive line your going to have issues. Our guys are working hard. They are doing a good job, but it's not the same when you don't have the same five out there for any successive days in a row. I don't think we've had the same five out there in a row more than three days.
Talk about how you have achieved depth:
We found some people like Brad Brezina, which has been a very pleasant surprise. That's helped us. Matt Rhodes has gotten a lot of work, and that has helped us. Nathan McManus, out of necessity, has come on. Andrew Gardner has gotten more work than he ever would have gotten without the situation. That is the silver lining to the cloud. It has been a challenge to Joe D'alessandris and the entire offensive line.
Has it showed up more in your running game or your pass protection?
Really, it's a whole communication issue. It's not pass protection or run game, it's communication. And that falls in to both categories, run game and pass game. You have to communicate. We have to simplify some things to make sure we are all on the same page in all areas, pass protection and run game.
Is it difficult to pick up where you left off after the bowl game with such a big change in the offensive line?
I think the landscape of college football changes every year because of the people you lose and the people you gain. Your team is different. It's not like the NFL where you have eleven of your starters back every year. That normally does not happen. We are in a situation now where, not only did we lose two guys, then we have had a lot of injuries, so, no we are not going to pick up right were we left off. There is no way to do that. Now, how fast can we move and get to that point? I don't know, we'll just have to wait and see.
Can you comment on the value that Andy [Tidwell-Neal] has to this team?
He is probably the one piece of the puzzle that locks it all together, so to speak. He directs people. He gets people lined up. When Kevin [Tuminello] down, that was our next choice to get him in there. He can now direct everything. And that has been a big plus and that will stay a big plus for our offensive line. When we are in this state of flux on our offensive line, he keeps everything on an even keel. I don't think you can understate what he does.
How is the structure of the O-line affecting the other players?
I don't think anyone realizes it that much. The guy that probably realizes it the most is probably Reggie [Ball] because of the protection situations and making sure he is protected in the pocket. You can't play if you don't feel comfortable in the pocket. I think that will be an issue that we will have to look at and address during the ball game Saturday. But the other players are trying to learn what they are doing themselves. They are not worried about another position; they are trying to do their job. So they don't pay attention to it that much.
How is your tight end factor in?
He is a part of it. He is a big part of pass protection and the running game. Darius [Williams] has come on and solidified the number one spot there at this time. The other two guys have been out with injuries and Darius is playing better. That's probably given us a little bit more continuity with the tackles on either side when we go left or right. He is a senior and knows the calls, so he has given us a little bit more there. We need more than Darius there to get through the season though.
What is the status of [Brad] Honeycutt, Leon [Robinson] and Kevin [Tuminello]?
Kevin is probably the least likely to be ready for Saturday. Leon has the next best chance and Honeycutt will be back today. So we still won't have the original offensive line on the field all week.
Will Honeycutt be ready to play on Saturday?
Yes, he played all last year, and that's not an issue for him. He's fine. He's been running and doing enough cardiovascular. The key is, "are you in playing shape?" There is a difference between running and breathing shape and moving, bending down, cut blocking shape. Getting up off the ground and hustling. There is a big difference from being able to run up and down the field and being able to play the game.
Is Reggie better equipped to handle injuries in the offensive line now, than last year?
This is something I can sit down and talk to him about. 'Hey look, we are going to go through it, but don't worry about it we are going to handle it. We will figure a way to get done what needs to get done.' He understands that and he knows we can do that. We have had to do that against different teams we played last year. We had to make sure we did certain things to get him out of the pocket and do whatever we needed to do to protect him.
You don't want to expose too much too early, does an injured offensive line make you make the game plan even simpler?
We are putting together what we have to do to win the game. There is no holding back in the game plan this week. I can promise you that. We are using as many different formations, as many different sets, as many different personnel groupings as we always have. We haven't cut back the game plan. We are going to make these guys come up to the task.
Are you ready to go as far as the defense is concerned?
We have some nicks there as well. Eric Henderson will not practice all week, and I'm not sure if he will make it for the game or not. It looks less and less likely as the days go by. We will have to mix and match to get enough pressure on the passer because this team we are playing can throw the football. We have to find ways to put pressure on the passer and stop the run. Those are the two biggest issues. We have had some pretty good continuity since we got Dawan Landry back in the lineup. He came back about a week ago. We have really been able to develop our continuity on the defensive side of the ball with a couple of exceptions on the defensive line.
With the game being in the afternoon, are you going to be substituting people in and out more frequently?
We are going to play our guys to win the game. It may take overtime. It may take the whole game. It will take, whatever it takes to win the game. I don't think about playing time right now. I think about winning the game.
Have you changed some things defensively with the potential absence of both defensive ends?
Coach Tenuta will always adjust to get the right people in position to put pressure on the passer. The thing about it is, Adamm Oliver and Chirod Williams and some of those other guys are going to play. Darrell Robertson will probably play some this week as a pass rusher. They are going to have to do their part. You can't just go into a game saying we are not going to play. Those guys can play and do some things to. It's up to them. They have to get in there and do some things in the scheme of the defense.
You have some veterans on defense that do not have a lot of game experience, how does that help you?
That is the one thing; I hope our guys are excited about hitting someone else instead of just each other. I think they are. You have got a lot of guys that have got something to prove. There should be some good play out of those who are going to get the chance to play this Saturday.
Is Eric's injury something that could last longer than this week?
We don't know. It's not a season deal, but it could be one week, it could be three weeks I don't know. We get an injury report every day. He hasn't gotten better as fast as we would like. He hasn't gotten worse.
How different is it opening the season at home?
This is a lot better. You would much rather play at home to open the season. Everybody would, but half the teams don't get to.
Do you have to work harder to motivate the team to play?
I think that you have to realize where we are. Every team is different. Some teams you have to do that with. Some teams you might not have to do that. I think our football team, and the thing that I have talked about all off-season is learning to dominate every time you step out there. Learning to play at a high level no matter who the opponent is. Learning to treat every game as a playoff game. That's were we are as a football team. We are not so good of a team where we have to try to get up to play a lesser team. We are not there yet. We would like to be there in a couple of years, but we are not there yet.
Do you think that this team rises to the level of its opponents?
I don't think it was this particular team. I think that it is the mindset since I have been here. I think that has been the mindset. It took me a while to find out what direction that is coming from and to come to that conclusion. After two years of being with this team and here with Georgia Tech football, I realized we play to the level of our opponent more than we should. That's not what we need to do. We need to learn to dominate and play to our level every time we walk out there. My attention was drawn to it a little bit in the first year and then last year after going over the season it became very evident. I evaluated last season and looked at notes from first season. I started comparing notes, and realized it was one of the issues we needed to address here at Tech.
This year you are asking the guys to play at their highest level every game?
We are talking about going to a certain level. I think our guys in general respond to whatever you try to ask them to do. Our guys are high character guys. They understand and they trust. If you tell them something, they will believe it. I can give them examples of when they have done something and they will understand it. Now understanding and doing are two different things. We have to prove that we can do it and play at a high level every time.
How has Gerris [Wilkinson] evolved as a player?
First of all, Gerris is great football player. He didn't play linebacker last year, so he has had to learn a whole new set of rules and a whole new set of responsibilities, a whole new way to see the game and that's hard to simulate during practice. But, he knows the game. So he has the first part down. It's just turning that level of play and that responsibility into this position, and that's not easy to do from defensive end to middle linebacker with a stop in there at outside linebacker in between. He has done an excellent job. He will be an excellent middle linebacker at some point. He may already be there, it might take a while, and I don't know when it is going to be. We will find out in the next couple of weeks. But he is going to be a really good linebacker before it is all over with. We knew he understood the game. We knew he had athletic ability. We knew he was big and strong and tough and he fit the mold of a middle linebacker. But he hadn't done it. We looked around to see who could stop the run, take on the ISO, and run the defense and he has had all the attributes to be able to do that.
What would a win against an ACC team mean to Samford?
When I was there we played Auburn. We hung in there for a little while and then we wore down and got beat, but we hung in there. What a win like that would do for small program, you just can't put it into words what it would mean. For Georgia Southern to go up to Athens, same thing. For any I-AA team to be an I-A team, that's a big lick for that school.
How would you rank Samford's talent?
That receiver over there, the quarterback over there, the safety over there, those guys can play. Where you struggle on that level is most of the time is finding the big dominant linemen on both sides of the ball. You find guys that are fighters and tough guys and good players, but they are a little lighter and a little shorter than you find at the major colleges. But the skilled positions, corners, defensive backs, safeties, linebackers, running backs, wide receivers, the are very comparable.
What caused you to go to Samford?
They folded the World League. I was hunting a job. My son was getting ready to go into his senior year in high school and I would rather not move. So it worked out that Terry Bowden left and went to Auburn. They needed a coach and I was there. I was talking to several people, but that looked like a very good option at the time, and it ended up working out. We were blessed to be able to stay there for a year, and I would have stayed there a long time if Bill Cower hadn't called.
Can you comment on Samford's wide receiver?
He was a tall skinny quarterback coming out. So, nobody really knew. Then all of a sudden, he goes over there and they turn him into a great wide receiver and he comes on great. That's just one of those deals.
How has it helped to have a sapper like Andrew Economos?
That is one of the most overlooked, underrated positions in football. The only reason it ever gets noticed is if you don't have one or he makes a bad snap. I think Andrew made the comment the other day, 'I hope this is the only time I get interviewed all year,' the other day when he got interviewed. Normally, the only time they talk about you or to you is when something bad goes wrong as a snapper. He is excellent at his job and is good enough to maybe go to the next level as a long snapper.
Do you guys look for long snappers when you are out recruiting?
You bet we do. We certainly do. We are very fortunate Gavin Tarquinio is an excellent long snapper as well. We have him sitting there as a back up. Sometimes it's hard to get one, but to be able to have two is really a blessing in disguise.
How did you hear about Andrew?
Coach [Butch] Brooks. Brooks said you need to talk to this guy and get him back out here. I told him to call him and tell him to come see me. It's one of the best meetings I have ever had. It has paid dividends. I didn't know where he was; I just knew he wasn't on the football field. It's been great since we got him back out there.
Have you made a decision about punter?
Not yet. We are getting there. We will know by Saturday. I think it's hard going into a ball game knowing if I mess up one time I'm going to get ripped out of there. I put myself in his shoes. If I win the job, give me a game or two to prove I can or I can't. Today, it would be a gut feel. I'm hoping by the end of the week we get some more statistics that give us a better idea who the punter will be. We tried to put them under the gun a little bit Saturday and we will try to do that today as well. See who performs.
Who will start, Kenny Scott or Dennis Davis?
That really doesn't matter. Both of them will be so tired at the end of the game, it won't matter. They both will get plenty for reps against most of the teams we play.
Given Leon's injury, are Kyle [Wallace] and Salih [Besirevic] get a good bit of reps?
Yes, that's right.
Maryland Head Coach, Ralph Friedgen
On Northern Illinois:
"Northern Illinois is a very fine football team and we're going to have to play a very good football game in order to win. They have, what they believe, one of the best offenses in the history of the school coming in. Their returning quarterback is very good, and a new tailback who they feel is fast and big in A.J. Harris, who is 6-1, 221 pounds and runs a 4.3. The offensive line is very big and they have everyone back except the center. Dan Sheldon who is also a very good punt and kick returner, is one of their wide receivers and he made a great play against us last for a touchdown.
"Defensively, they've lost some really good players. Their middle linebacker has left and their Sam linebacker Brian Atkinson is in to play in the middle is a very good football player. Lionel Hickenbottom, their free safety, is a good player and their defensive linemen and ends are also very good.
"Special team-wise, they have a good punter, Anthony Gallagher averaged around 40 yards a punt. They have a new place kicker, we don't know who that is, he could be a true freshman, it could be someone from last year."
On new starting quarterback Joel Statham:
"He practiced very well last night. Joel is more prepared than he was last year. When he played against Georgia Tech last year he was our third string quarterback and had very few reps. I'm sure this is going to be a learning experience for him. If he can get over the butterflies and go out and play the way he's capable, I think he'll play very well.
"Joel, by his personality, he wants to do things and he speeds up, and that's not him. With as many young players that we have, we're going to experience some of that on Saturday. It's just a matter of staying patient and not panicking. If you make a mistake, get it corrected and hope we don't make the mistake again. We have a very young football team. They're very competitive and enthusiastic, and I know that when the adrenaline starts we're going to make mistakes because they are reacting and not thinking.
On starting a new season:
"I think I have more [butterflies] this year than my first game. I really don't know how this team is going to react because it's so young. In our last scrimmage, I didn't think we scrimmaged very well until I looked at the tape, and then I thought we got after each other pretty good but the problem was that they were all freshmen out there scrimmaging. Some of them are going to be very good, the problem is that they're not ready – they're not mature enough. It's hard for a lot of these kids to understand because they were good in high school and now they come in and it's a whole other level. They'll grow and learn and hopefully as the season goes on these kids will get better, bigger and stronger. There's just so many things that we don't know about this team that we're going to find out a lot more on Saturday about where we are."
On addressing last year's game against Northern Illinois with this year's team:
"I really don't think I have to address it a whole lot. They should understand what type of team Northern Illinois is and how well we are going to have to play in order to be able to win the football game. Northern Illinois went into Alabama and beat Alabama, so it kind of speaks for itself. They're a pretty good football team and we're going to have to be ready to play."
On the competitiveness of the team:
"The thing I love about this team is that they will compete. If I think they are going through the motions, all I have to do is put a prize at the end of it and drill comes alive and they compete. I enjoy coaching this team a lot. Once we get over our inexperience and as we mature and get more confident, I really think that this is going to be a good football team. I just don't know where they are at right now, and I'm waiting to see."
Miami Head Coach, Larry Coker
On the team playing its first game in the ACC:
"We have talked about this ACC thing now for a couple of years it seems like, and now we are getting ready to play our first ACC game. The reality has set in and having to play Florida State is a great way to start and an empathic welcome to the ACC. We are excited about the game. At practices the tempo is starting to pick up and our coaches and players are getting anxious and ready. It is an exciting time for us."
On the physical health of his team:
"We are just as physical as we have been in the past during practice and we had similar practice plans as last fall. We came in with a lot fewer hamstring problems. With fewer injuries it has helped our team hopefully get better because a lot of guys have gotten a lot of work in practice. We are much more healthy at the start of this season as compared to the last couple of years."
On the rivalry with Florida State:
"I've been fortunate to be around some big games and big rivalries with Nebraska and Texas and Michigan, but this is as good as it gets. We recruited a lot of their players and they recruited some of our players and the players know each other. The thing I like about this rivalry is the game is a hotly contented battle but when it is over it is all handshakes. That is the way you really like to see college football played."
"This is definitely a two-blimp game. The winner of the game will think that this is a big step forward. Without question, the winner of this game will feel pretty good about where they stand."
"What always concerns you about a team like Florida State is the big play. With the players they have like Craphonso Thorpe and the veteran quarterback in Chris Rix with a great arm, the big play concerns you."
On the play of Brock Berlin and Chris Rix:
"The difference between the two is Rix has played a lot more for Florida State. He has been there forever, played a lot and won a lot of football games. Brock has only been playing with us for one year. That's a big difference with the experience level. The quarterbacks at Miami and Florida State are going to get maligned if things to not go well, so that without question is similar."
On running back Frank Gore:
"Frank Gore is a player that can make you a very good football coach. Everyone on this staff wants Frank Gore to have a great year and be successful. He is such a quiet kid and doesn't say much and he is on track to graduate and get his degree. When I talked to Frank after I got the job here, Frank never asked me for anything other than to help him graduate. He is just a special player. He is going to have a great year for us."
On playing on Monday Night Football:
"This is a great stage for college football. I hope it is a great game. We anticipate it to be a great football game between two great institutions and two great rivalries. I hope it turns out to be that way for our fans and their fans and for TV."
North Carolina Head Coach, John Bunting
"There is nothing tricky about this season in terms of our schedule and the preparation we've had in this training camp. It's been a lot of physical play, been a lot of continued nourishment of this football team, the young players in particular. It's seen an offense that is very capable of scoring points and moving the ball, a defense that has gotten better, and special teams that should, I hope, be equal to or better than last year.
"I'm real excited about getting started here, it's been a long time. This is the week that we get started on this 2004 season, and I feel real good about how we've worked and I'm excited about playing."
On the team's preparedness coming out of training camp:
"I think we're kind of where we wanted to be at this point. There were things that took play in the two or three big scrimmages and workouts that we had that were pleasing. There were those that were kind of expected by me, but we have the benefit of four preseason games, so that's where you try to get your evaluation and that's where you try to put them in as many game-type situations, even though it can't be real because you aren't playing against a true opponent.
"What I think we did get was some of the penalties, the game-type operations that we need to have in terms of substitutions and alert on the sidelines. The way worked that last scrimmage I was really pleased. I don't know what else we could have done to get us better prepared to start the season and get ready for the rest of the season. Right now all of our focus is only on William and Mary, it has been yesterday and the last couple practices of last week. We're about where we want to be."
On the defense:
"I'm not going to say I'm not still concerned about a lot of places, I think there are some unknowns about our defense. There are good things I've seen every day on the practice field with our defense. I've seen our guys run, I've seen our guys surround the ball like I hoped that they would do.
On the linebackers:
"The linebacker situation has been a concern. I think Fred Sparkman has earned a starting role, I think Fred Sparkman has earned a starting role and I think Jeff Longhany has earned a starting role. I don't expect those three to play the entire game. I expect other people to get in the game – Mahlon Carey being one, Hilee Taylor being another. And I hope at some point Larry Edwards makes a contribution at linebacker again. Right now he's playing on most every special team and trying to work his way back into a role with our defense."
On Trimane Goddard:
"He just displays a real penchant for football, he loves the game. He's really a pleasure to be around, he loves to play and he loves to do things right. He's what you want to be at corner, to be at nickel back and to be a kick returner.
On Connor Barth:
"I think that he's very mature, he's got a great deal of confidence. I don't think he's completely unflappable but none of us are. I think he's a guy who will have a short memory with a bad kick. I think he's got a great work ethic, which I think contributes to his confidence. He loves to kick and he loves to do it right."
On Gerald Sensabaugh:
"He's really been a pleasure to be around. He's got great instincts, particularly against the run. He's a very inquisitive football player. He's strong and can change direction. He's got overall speed and is an explosive tackler. I'm expecting big things from him, he's caught on with our defense, and I think he's really flourished under the tutelage of Marvin Sanders."
On William and Mary:
"I discovered this morning that if (quarterback Lang Campbell) was in I-A football he'd have been in the top 10 in passing efficiency (last year)…He has a strong arm and throws all the throws. They have three senior receivers coming back. They had a great season last year, and they won their last four games.
"(Head Coach) Jimmy Laycock is a guy that I do not know personally, but I've admired him for a long time. Besides Division-III, I've always followed I-AA football and been intrigued with William and Mary and Richmond and New Hampshire."
"They've had dynamite offensives, Jimmy Laycock's done a great job of scoring a lot of points. They averaged close to 30 points per game last year. They've got two big backs, they have an offensive line back and they have a quarterback that can put some numbers up."
Virginia Head Coach, Al Groh
Is Temple ripe for an upset?:
They've got what all teams really want to have- they have a really good quarterback. If you have one of those, you're in every game. Plus they have 16 junior college players coming in, so their team will be heavily personneled with a lot of players that we don't have much background on. We always like to know who we're playing against as well as what we're playing against. In this particular case, we know more about the 'what' than the 'who.'
Talk about Temple LB Rian "Goo" Wallace:
He's a very good player. He was sixth in the country in tackles last year. He's cut in the mold of our guys- big, tall, can run, 6-4, 245-lb. He certainly would fit right in with us.
Will you change the defense for QB Walter Washington?:
We've got to pay special attention to him. There was a game last year when he had 36 carries or something like that. You have to pay attention to that. This is almost like back in the days of the single-wing where the tailback had the ball on every play and it was an exception when he didn't. That's really pretty much the case here. I'd say he's pretty close to being the principal runner as well as obviously the only thrower.
LG Brian Barthelmes is listed ahead of Ron Darden on the depth chart:
It's just what happens in training camp. You just keep taking a look at different combinations until you find the one that you like the best. That's Brian. He's tough, he's dependable, he always keeps resurfacing. (He moved back to guard) sometime last week.
Does S Marquis Weeks think more like a safety (after playing four years at running back)?:
He's got to see like one and think like one. He gets better all the time. It's just how fast can we accumulate the looks. This offense we're playing against is very different in structure from what we run. So he got pretty good exposure through spring practice, training camp. He's gotten really good exposure to what we do, and that will serve him well down the road. This is another learning chapter for him; that's good. But by the same token, it is so diverse from what we do which means there's not a lot of continuity in what he's experiencing.
Is Brian Barthelmes a special case?:
I think if you've ever met him, you'd say yes. This will be the fourth position he's played here. While we do certainly preach and work to develop versatility, he's taken it to the nth degree for us. That's what makes him so valuable. There's a saying, 'the more you can do,' and he certainly has applied that. He does a lot for us. He's just a good part of the team personality.
Have you received encouraging news regarding TE Patrick Estes?:
He has participated since the game preparation started.
TE Jonathan Stupar is not listed on the depth chart:
He's not; he broke his foot.
Have you put in new things with the returning offensive line?:
No, we haven't changed dramatically what we're doing with them. It's more a case of what they can do themselves. Their skill level has increased and their strength level in some cases. Yes, their versatility has increased, but it's the versatility of their techniques and their skills rather than different things we're doing with the scheme.
Talk about freshman S Nate Lyles:
For a young safety, I'd say Nate's pretty advanced. He's got an idea all the time. It may not be the right idea, it is a lot. But he's got an idea all the time. That might not seem like much, but sometimes with those young safeties, this early in the season they take a look at some of these formation changes and adjustments that must to be made and they have no idea. He's always got an idea what it should be; he's usually pretty close to it. He's going to be a good player.
Talk about the punting situation:
I think it's whenever we decide to make a final call on it. Both punters (Sean Johnson and Kurt Korte) have had a good camp. This is another one of these situations that final determination will probably only come from game competition. With athletes, that establishes a lot who plays well in the games. So we might want to see both of them here in the early going of the season. Each one of them might have a different role.
Talk about QB Marques Hagans?:
Using the previous preseasons as a foundation for him, without which any of the progress this camp could not have been made. Probably the degree of his improvement in these three weeks has been equal to or exceeded any of the time frame that preceded it.
What's he doing better?:
I think in his overall awareness and presence.
How has LB Ahmad Brooks played since returning to camp?:
Very well. He plays the same as when camp started.
What has CB Mario Moore done to get on the depth chart?:
He's a spunky kid. He's another first-year player. There's a lot to like about him. He's got a lot of energy. We'll see what happens when we play the game.
Has C Jordy Lipsey turned the corner?:
He got off to a slow start last year. His pace has been good here in camp. For all the players who play early, there is a significant jump between the first year and the second year. That jump doesn't occur in three weeks of training camp. There is a process involved in that jump, and he would seem to be in that process.
Talk about the experience of the offensive line:
D'Brickashaw (Ferguson) started as a true freshman at left tackle and played every play. That's really remarkable to say about a team that won nine games. Just think about all the first-year players who don't play football and have difficulty with the transition to college- homesick, tough classes, don't know where to go to buy toothpaste. This guy has played left tackle as a true freshman every snap of the season. (Brad) Butler is much the same way. He came in to start the latter two games and the bowl game. To do what he did, it's quite a remarkable thing on the part of those three players.
Talk about walk-on WR Imhotep Durham:
We have some nice human interest stories here. He's a kid who really had a limited football background before he came on with us. He's very determined. He's got a spirit about him that he wasn't going to be denied. On the 'show' team all last year, really too far below the surface to see the light, we never dissuaded him for a second. He kept on coming on. He gave us plenty of fits running patterns against the defense and wasn't able to participate in the spring. That didn't deter him; he came back. He's done a nice job.
How do you approach getting Hagans comfortable as the fulltime quarterback and the need to get the guys behind him some time too?:
I'm not even thinking about that. I'm thinking about the quarterback who is going to start the game, and we'll just take it from there. This isn't a preseason game; this one counts. So we're going to play whoever we need to to get the job done.
How good a receiver was Hagans (before he switched back to quarterback)?:
He did a good really good job for us at the position. He could catch the ball. That's the really big thing. That's why they're called receivers, not called droppers. Sometimes at that position, you look at height, weight, speed, what's he do the 40 in, and the guy drops the ball. He's not a receiver. Receiver means you receive the ball. He's very good at that. He caught the ball real well. Besides his obvious athletic ability, that's the big thing that he brought to it.
Are you looking for consistency from WR Emmanuel Byers?:
Yes, he's a lot like the other players in his class who have made a progressive move from where they were last year. But they've demonstrated things for the first time. Now you need to see it on an on-going basis.
Impressions of freshman DL Chris Long:
Very positive. I'd say Chris is certainly advanced at the position, technique and strength-wise for a kid coming in. I think he'll probably get some plays on Saturday.
How many freshmen will play on Saturday?:
(DE Chris) Long, (S Nate) Lyles, (S Jamaal) Jackson, (TE Tom) Santi, (CB Philip) Brown. I think there's a good chance they'll all play.
What kind of athlete is S Jamaal Jackson?:
We're pretty excited about him. He's a 6-2, 215-lb. safety who can run. He's a real find. He's got a very high upside.
What kind of atmosphere do you expect in a pro stadium like where you'll play Saturday?:
I really haven't given it much thought. I would think it would be pretty good. We haven't been up in that area to play. We're hoping that we get a lot of Northeast Virginia fans. It's a holiday weekend. People have extra time to travel. We're hoping we have a large contingency of Virginia fans. From what I can tell, there's good optimism with the Temple program and their fans. There's early season excitement for both teams.
Have you scouted the new Marching Band?:
They've been great. The end of the previous week towards the end of one of our practices, they were over on the astroturf practicing. It sounded pretty good to me. They haven't been around, so I asked (director) Bill Pease if they'd like to come over. Some of the players were curious. I asked them if they'd like to come over last Monday night and maybe play a few numbers for the team. After practice, we all gathered up. Everyone was unanimous- they were great. That was only their fourth or fifth day. They did four or five numbers, and the players asked for a couple of encores. They're really good. People are going to enjoy them tremendously.
How has TE Heath Miller improved?:
He is better really in every respect. But he was pretty good in all those phases before. I can't equate to this at all, so I'm just making a fantasy example. I guess it would be like some guy at your country club who regularly shoots 78, 79, and everyone says he's one of the best golfers in the club. Now all of sudden he consistently shoots 74, 75. He's doing a lot of little things better to consistently get down there, but everyone thought he was pretty good beforehand. Heath did everything well before. He's doing all those things real well again. He's progressed in a lot of subtle areas, and I think his game is better in every respect.
Is TB Wali Lundy underrated?:
I guess it depends on who's doing the rating. Not to me. I thought since the moment he walked in here, this guy's a real good back. He's only played two years. He's got plenty of time, his best time yet in front of him to establish exactly what his rating is. I've always felt that most players become really good players around their third year, regardless of how much they played beforehand. He's in his third year. He's been pretty good before. He's a real good, solid, versatile back.
Wake Forest Head Coach, Jim Grobe
On the offensive line's youth:
"I feel better today. I was uneasy in the spring and a little uneasy at the beginning of August, but our linemen have made improvements. I think we're ready now. We had good competition for two or three spots on the line and we will play two or three players in those spots. Everyone will get some playing time this weekend. We had eight or nine guys competing for playing time and they will get it. If we play well up front then we will have a chance. Our offensive line is young and has been inconsistent. It is a work in progress and will be during the season. Players will be moving up and down the depth chart. Those two or three spots will be open for anyone to take."
Offensive line continued:
"The older guys are playing well. I feel that our front has competed really hard. Our philosophy has always been to keep it simple. We want our guys to be aggressive, and being simple is not necessarily a factor of our youth."
On coaching up the revenge factor:
"If you didn't play well one year, the next year you do not really have to tell the kids too much. They really want to get that bad taste out of their mouth. I see it as much a redeeming rather than revenge. This game [against Clemson] has grown into a rivalry for our guys over the past few years."
On the switch to the 4-3 defense and recruiting for the defense:
"I didn't have a timetable of switching defenses [from the 3-3-5 base defense]. It depends on recruiting. We've always tried to find the best players that we can find. We really try hard not to take an average football player just so we can fill a position. The guys that we wanted sometimes we didn't get, so we didn't go after just anyone else. The switch will really help our defensive line. Last year our ends had to line up over tackles last year, and a lot of times this year they will be over tight ends. The interior linemen are better run [stoppers], and this suits us a lot better. We can be pretty specific in the abilities that each position needs."
On Chris Barclay:
"He's stronger this year. He had another spring and August under his belt. I don't think we saw a healthy Chris Barclay last year until the fourth or fifth game. I'm hopeful that we'll see a full 11 games from him. He has very good foot speed. He is a track-oriented runner, and usually those guys run east to west, but he has a knack to go north and south. Other than the bad ankle last year, he has been very durable. He is just a good football player. He is one of those guys that you would pick in a sandlot game; he's just a good player."
On the game against Clemson:
"Our players were hit hard on our finish last season. They are now determined to play well. I think our guys are talking about taking our best shot 11 times this year. We will go down and give them our best shot in their backyard. They have a lot of guys back. Charlie Whitehurst is being talked about for the Heisman Trophy. We have to concentrate on our blocking and tackling and not worry about the environment and Clemson. We need to focus on our game."
Junior Running Back Chris Barclay
On past success against Clemson:
"I don't really know what it is. I've had pretty good success playing them. They have a defense that pursues really well. They are a very focused team and they do the little things well. Sometimes they over pursue and that's when you can make them pay. We will have another good game plan for them. I am focusing on us. We'll be ready for this weekend."
On the conference's competitiveness:
"On any given Saturday, you can lose. You have to be focused each week. One game can put a damper on the season. Especially in the new ACC, there will be some really good games. After our loss at Chapel Hill last year, we just got down a lot and didn't really recover."
Senior Defensive Back Marcus McGruder
On the season opener:
"This is one of the most exciting parts of the season. You don't really know what to expect. You don't know how they have changed offensively. You can watch tape on them, but you can not prepare for changes they have made. It is real exciting coming out of camp. I want to see how much we have improved. We don't know how effective our defense will be, but we think it will be real effective. You have to play each game because you don't know who is weak and who is strong. Everyone is playing their first game of the season. We just need to make sure that we are a strong team."
On changing to the 4-3 base defense:
"The main change for us is that we can stop the run a lot better. [The defensive linemen] are getting into the gaps better and quicker, and that gets us our reads quicker. We can now execute our play calling quicker. [The defensive backs] experience is a huge plus. We really improved over the spring and in preseason and are adjusting to the new defense."
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