Day 9: Shannon goes in-depth

Randy Shannon went in-depth about a number of things following Saturday's practice so read on to see everything he was saying.

On today:
We did a little conditioning before we started practicing to get their blood flowing, get them cranked up. We ended with the receivers and DB's going on a blocking drill, getting off practice where everyone watches them. You're receivers but you also have to block in the running game to give us big holes. We're not gonna tell them just to catch deep balls and be passive in the run game. We gotta be physical in the run game. We're gonna be very aggressive in the pass game.

On compared to last season at this time:
We're a lot better than we were. Just looking at what we have on the team. The tight ends, Richard Gordon is a lot further along and about the same as Dedrick was. We feel like Chase Ford is a lot better than what Jimmy Graham was at this time, as far as in the run game blocking and his receiving the football has been very impressive. O-Line, they're executing very well. On defense, we're executing very well. We have to continue to stress on defense, get the linebacker group going. We have some young guys doing better than what we thought but we need more guys to step up. That was a major point we talked about before fall camp.

On special teams:
Overall, we're getting better, worked on some punt stuff today, punt protection, kickoff return. The more we continue to stress special teams and we see guys giving looks for us will have a chance to be on special teams, we get excited about it.

On Chase Ford:
He reminds me a lot of Shockey. One of my buddies back in Texas called me and he told me about Chase. He was the MVP of their Texas league and when you have a guy the MVP playing tight end, it tells you a lot about him. We knew about his athletic ability, his toughness, his mental part. Now the learning the process he had to go and he came out and learned it. He was a full qualifier out of high school, same as Shockey. He didn't have the weight everyone looked at. We're happy to have him, very enthused about it. We feel like if he keeps progressing the right way, we're gonna be OK at tight end.

On Ford's blocking:
He played for a running team. He's very good at blocking. He's about 255-250 right now, 6-6, 6-5 kid. We know he's not gonna be strong from now, four games into the season he'll be a lot stronger. That's one of his weaknesses but he's a tough kid and knows how to use his body.

On recruiting tight ends:
We want our guys to be physical and very athletic. We feel like we have some athletic guys. We feel great that they're good athletes but the learning, the blocking part is going to be the key. There aren't too many tight ends in the country who you can knock a 275 pound guy off the ball. You gotta be able to get in position, get leverage on guys.

On Ray Ray Armstrong:
Doing well, a lot better than he was. He has to be more consistent. We're very pleased with him. He has made some plays to show us what he can do. When you have guys who are true sophomores, that's the hand we get dealt. We're looking for him to keep progressing, get him to where he needs to be to help us win games.

On Kylan Robinson:
Kylan Robinson is doing well. We got him at middle linebacker, in nickel situations, so he's learning a lot. The more reps he gets the better he gets. He had a solid scrimmage the other night and had a solid practice.

On Shane McDermott:
He's doing well. He came in early, learning the process. All offensive linemen, it's about strength, the physical part of it. They're not used to hitting 300 pounders every day. Now he has to get his strength us. We're very enthused about him and Linder. They're doing a great job for us. Both are very competitive so we're excited about it.

On Matt Bosher:
He's a very aggressive kid, very competitive, and he takes pride in it. If Bosher's gonna be the kickoff guy, he feels like he needs to make tackles. As much as I talk to him about it, Bosher is Bosher. The players know that and they respect him and like what he's doing for us as a team. He's very strong, lifts with everyone. He doesn't say ‘I'm a kicker' and will go lift with the linebackers, the DB's. He's going to compete with them. He runs the same times as the linebackers and running backs so that's all you can ask for.

On Leonard Hankerson:
Maturity. Most freshmen come in and have to learn and the physical part, the hours are different. Everyone thinks football is easy. When you play, you have to lift weights at a certain time then you have to go to class from maybe 10 to 12 or 1. Then you eat lunch, then you come over here and go to meetings. After meetings you have practice, then you eat dinner. Then from 7 to 9:30 is study hall. It's not like high school where you have free time. Going from a freshman to sophomore is a big jump. He knows he has to get better and has a lot of people behind him. He has to stay focused on the process. He has to keep getting better every day. If he doesn't catch a pass, he'll be a great blocker. If he catches 10, he'll be a great player. We continue to get better as individuals. It will help the team.

On Hank's decision to return:
I just called him in. They sent it to you, not me. He filled it out, they sent it back, and he made his decision off that. I let the NFL decide, let the players decide. I give them my opinion and let them make a decision.

On Hank coming back:
It's important for him, the growth development, getting better as a football player. He's a leader and works hard. You see some other guys that came in and see him as a guy who keeps developing.

On Graig Cooper:
He did 9 on 9 drills. He caught a couple of passes but it wasn't like the middle drill stuff. We're gonna ease him and Jordan Futch in. They're gonna get a little but not a lot. From a run standpoint, you take a lot more shots. He won't participate in the scrimmage. Him and Jordan, it'll be a long time.

On guys banged up from Friday:
You get nicked, they walk off the field, they sleep over night, get some ice on them, and come back fresh.

On Cory Nelms:
He's a nickel guy. We're gonna put him on the inside slot. He hasn't gotten a lot of football here but he played in Jersey and was an all-state guy who came in on track. We're very happy with him. Last year he was one of our best special teams players. When you play good special teams, you tend to play very good on offense or defense. The more we develop like that the better he's gonna be.

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