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On Appalachian State:
"They're a team with outstanding team speed. I think that particularly the skill positions, the wide receiver position, and obviously Edwards is an exciting athlete at quarterback. From the reports that I've read, he's improved dramatically in terms of the passing game. But he's an exciting football player. Their secondary is back. I think they have excellent speed on defense. And the kicking game, they have outstanding return teams. The thing when you look at them, the thing that immediately impresses is their team speed."
On the right side of the offensive line:
"Alex Mitchell is out of this game, but Jeremy Ciulla had a very good spring. Depending on what happens this week, I think that's true of all the depth chart, its still a work in progress. We've got a lot of things still that could change this week. Steve Schilling has had an excellent fall, and he will start at right tackle."
On Marques Slocum:
"We'll make up our dress list this week, so you might want to check that out when you get to the game."
"We'll see how they all do this week. K.C. Lopata is right in the middle of that, and we'll have to see how it goes this week. I would prefer that one of them win that battle. But other than that, we'll just have to see how that position develops."
On the freshmen that might see practice on Saturday:
"I think there are a number of freshmen who will compete. If they don't compete in this game, it certainly does not mean that they won't compete as the season goes forward. I think particularly at the wide receiver position, J.R. Hemingway, and I think to start with J.R., he has had an outstanding fall. He is a wonderful athlete, a guy that I think will play, a guy that I think will play on our special teams. So I'll start with him.
On Ryan Mallett:
"Ryan is backup quarterback, and any time we have an opportunity to play young players, and particularly in that position. We'll see how the game goes, but hopefully he'll get some opportunities because I think any young player if they get an opportunity to play early in the season, that motivates them. It gives them game experience, and of course that's something you can't buy."
On Marell Evans:
"Marell Evans is a linebacker from the same high school as Brandon Minor. He had a very good fall and I expect that he will be one of those freshmen that gets playing time."
On Toney Clemons:
"Toney Clemons will play. Toney as well as Junior (Hemingway), both those kids have had excellent falls. They're both big guys, talented guys that will play."
"I think both of those kids will play. Again, that will depend on situations, but certainly in the area of special teams, we'll have an opportunity to play a lot of freshmen, probably more than is normal. When I look at this class, the one thing it brings is speed to our team, and I think all these kids have competed very well and picked things up. They're guys that as coaches we have confidence in."
On David Molk:
"David, he worked at center the first couple weeks. We worked him recently at guard because he is a guy that's very smart, he's talented, and so we'll see how it develops at that position. We're not going to waste a guy's year just to give him a few snaps early in the season. But certainly he is a guy that will be in the fray. He will be competing every day. There's a chance depending on what happens at those two positions that could enable him to have playing time."
On Johnny Sears and Stevie Brown:
"Johnny Sears has shown marked improvement, I think he's shown marked maturity. He was a guy a year ago that did some great things on our special teams, and I think he's always displayed a real toughness and aggressiveness, and he has no fear. He's a guy that has competed extremely well, and I think he has made great strides in terms of the coverage that is required at that position. He's also displayed very good ability as a return man, so Johnny has earned an opportunity for significant playing time.
"Steve Brown played some a year ago on our special teams. He's a guy that in the last couple weeks... he's another guy who runs extremely well. He's a tough, hard-nosed guy. He'll only get better with experience but he's done an excellent job."
On the depth chart at defensive tackle:
"You've got the depth chart there for whatever that's worth. Our backups in the defensive front are all young guys, they're all guys for the most part that we've red-shirted, so there will be some rotation in there, and we'll see how they play. Their performance will dictate how much they play."
On putting Brandon Minor on the kickoff return team after expressing concern last week over using him there due to the injury situation at tailback:
"We'll see, but Brandon, if we had to go today, Brandon would be back there. Brandon Harrison has done an excellent job, and we'll just have to see how that goes."
On when Carlos Brown will be back in there:
"I expect that the cast will come off his hand this week. I wouldn't rule him out, I wouldn't rule him in."
On the fullback position:
"Mark Moundros and Vince Helmuth have really had quite a battle at the fullback position. I would expect that either or both of them can play, and we'll have to see how that position evolves as we go forward."
On the possibility of opening up to a three wide receiver formation:
"A year ago we ran more plays from the three wide receiver position. What you're always looking to do is when you have some of the skill that we have at the wide receiver positions and can spread a defense out, that's something that's positive. But we'd like to be able to use a number of personnel packages, two tight ends, two wide receivers, one back; the standard pro personnel, tight end, two wide receivers, two backs, or three wide receivers or four wide receivers. I think the more flexibility you have there gives you a lot more flexibility."
On the competition at middle linebacker:
"John Thompson and Obi Ezeh, as I mentioned last week, both of them will play. I think they've competed extremely well, and we'll have to see as far as our season goes. I think they're in some regards different types of players, so we may end up with a situational -- game situation or personnel situation deal there so that -- and then they will determine by how well they play who plays the most."
On personal rituals or practice traditions before the opener:
"Practice (laughing). Well, the band comes over on Thursday. That's really about the only time during the course of the season that our players get an opportunity to see and hear the band in a relaxed atmosphere. They come over on Thursday. So that's one of the highlights of the preseason. That's something I think all of our players look forward to."
On the similarites and differences between Obi Ezeh and John Thompson:
"Their strengths are a little bit different, Obi moved from the SAM linebacker position where he played in the spring, and I think in the long run, playing him there in the spring was a great thing for our team because it gives us some additional flexibility in case of an injury. But he's also big enough to play inside. He played a number of positions in high school, but he's big enough to move inside, and I think he's shown the type of ability it takes to be excellent in pass coverage. He's got a lot of ability, he's a young guy, but he's got a great upside."
About the impact of the moving the kickoff back five yards:
"There was a big article in the New York Times yesterday about that rule change. Joe Tiller expressed I think great disappointment in the rule, and I share his sentiments. There's no question that it's going to lead to a great more number of returns, and of course that play is high impact. I think the rationale was that when you kick the ball into the end zone it stops the clock and lengthens the game. So it is what it is, and I think there's no question that it's going to change significantly field position from what it's been in the past."
More on three receiver sets:
"We have two young fullbacks, and both of them are talented guys who are going to get better and better. I think it comes down to when you have young receivers or you have enough receivers that you can stay in a one back, three wide receiver set, because those guys can't play every down because they do more running probably with the exception of secondary playing the field. So if you have depth, then you can stay in a set because you have confidence in the young players. Our young players are going to get better and better as the season goes on. But it's always dictated by what you think the strengths and weaknesses of the other team are, as well."
On the health situation coming out of fall camp:
"I think we've had the normal bumps and bruises and ankle sprains and things like that. Obviously Alex (Mitchelll) missing the first game is a disappointment because it's disappointing any time a player has to miss a game. We're in relatively good health in terms of where we've been in past years."
"You could throw John Ferrara in there, as well. All those guys are much stronger than they were a year ago. I think they've all competed well. They're all really kids that are smart, kids that work hard, that are competitive, and I think they're all going to be good players. We'll just have to see how they develop as the season goes on. But there's going to be opportunities in there."
On the latest on discussions about instituting a bye week:
"No, I think the Big Ten is trying to influence the ability to have a choice of opening the season a week earlier so that you could factor in a bye. My own guess is that the NCAA will be reluctant to do that, and I think going forward there will be some schools that will have decisions to make in terms of playing after Thanksgiving in order to build a bye into the regular season. But I don't know exactly where that conversation is at this point."
On why the NCAA wouldn't do that:
"Well, because they don't want to lengthen the season. They think its okay to add games. Other than that, I can't explain it. Maybe you could ask them."
On what the defense has shown in fall camp:
"I think they've come together. I think it's a group of guys that are highly motivated. Throughout the course of this fall I've been satisfied with the way they have played, the way they have practiced, and I like the guys on the defense. Our secondary has made significant strides compared with where we were in the fall. I think some of the competition from the freshmen has helped us. Some of the young players have really made strides, and of course Jamar Adams is back, and Jamar has had a good career here. I think he is capable of being an outstanding player, and I expect that he will be. Morgan Trent really dedicated himself in the off-season, and I think he's had an outstanding fall. The competition has helped us, and I think our front four are all guys that have size and strength to be good players.The key for us, hopefully we can stay healthy."
On the nickel back:
"The nickel back would be Brandon Harrison or Charles Stewart. Both those kids have experience there, and we have confidence in both of them."
On Shawn Crable's leadership:
"I think I would go back to last year. I think Shawn had an excellent season, and I think in the off-season he really came to understand and appreciate the significance of conditioning. To be a great player you have to be in great condition, great physical condition. He worked extremely hard throughout the winter and the summer. His commitment was, I thought, outstanding. You could see the difference in him this fall. He's always been a guy that when you looked at him, when he was really playing at his best, you could see the potential. He runs as well as I would guess any linebacker in the country, and of course he's got a great brain, great size, makes a lot of plays. He has the ability to line up as a defensive end when we go to the nickel package and be an excellent rusher. He's a guy with great ability, and he has matched that at least in the winter and the summer and the fall. I think his teammates saw that. I think that's one of the reasons they selected him as a captain."
On the Appalachian State offense:
"They have a new offensive coordinator, so we're expecting some different things from what they did a year ago. But philosophically I think they're still going to be a quarterback-oriented offense, and by that I mean they're going to have a lot of ways in which the ball will be in his hand in the running game as well as the passing game."
On Zoltan Mesko:
"Zoltan has had a good fall. He's an incredibly dedicated athlete. He's one of the best conditioned players on the team. He is stronger, he is bigger than he was a year ago, and he's like a lot of guys I've had at that position; he's a student of punting. He can tell you when he hits a bad punt why, what the problem was. So that enables him to make corrections. You know, that takes an extraordinary athlete to be able to do that, kind of like me when I play golf (laughing). I know immediately and can make corrections."
On Tim Jamison:
"I've said this on numerous occasions; Tim Jamison is an extremely intense, competitive guy. He has been set back with injury, but he's really developed. He's in wonderful shape and has had an outstanding spring and fall. He is a guy that is very, very capable of big plays, and that's what we're expecting him to do. He's a wonderful athlete, has great quickness off the ball, and he's a powerful guy."
On how the weather has affected preparation this fall:
"It's certainly not been what we are accustomed to, and there is a concern in terms of if the weather turns extremely hot. It's always a lot hotter down in that hole. We'll just have to see. Certainly I've never seen weather like this, and yet you've got to be able to adjust. Hopefully all the conditioning that we've done throughout the winter and throughout the summer will help us. I don't look at it as anything that everybody else doesn't have to deal with, as well. It's the same for all of us."
On the difficulty in breaking Appalachian State because of the lack of familiarity with the teams that they play:
"I think that's fair to say, but I think as players and as coaches when you turn their film on, the caliber of the competition they play, those guys are well-coached, and they're extremely competitive. Because we don't play anybody they play, I think it certainly makes it different in terms of personnel and all those issues. But I don't think from any other standpoint it's any different than any other game."
On Adam Kraus:
"Kraus is a special guy. As many of you know, a year ago, two years now, his family went through a very difficult year. His father has had some extremely serious health issues. But Adam is a guy that is very, very smart. He came here as a tight end. I was kidding him the other day, I told him, come on, Adam, you're going to be a great tight end here. I lied to him (laughing). But the truth is that I think he understood when he was here there was a good chance he would end up being an offensive lineman. It took him a year or so to really develop the strength and to get big enough to be able to move inside and play guard. But he's played every position out there. He's a very good center, he's played some at tackle, so when you line up two guys like (Jake) Long and (Adam) Kraus by each other, you're dealing with two guys that are great friends, and they've worked very well together. They communicate extremely well, and when the ball is snapped, they're going to be in the fight. He's done an outstanding job, and he had an excellent year a year ago playing much of that season with a shoulder that was not 100 percent. He had surgery in the off-season and missed spring practice. But he's one of those guys that every man knows you can count on. He's a great team guy, doesn't say a lot, but he's always listening, always learning."
On running behind the left side of the line:
"I think the zone schemes, there's a lot of cutback plays, so the ball may start to the right, but that doesn't mean it's going to stay to the right. That's the beauty of the zone scheme. I think whether you're running to them, starting the play to the left or to the right, you have an ability to get the ball back to the left. If you've got a guy that sees and has good vision, which (Mike) Hart and (Brandon) Minor exhibited that, I think every play, ones you can count on, you'll have two guys that will know what they're doing and are going to do their job."
On the progress of Kevin Grady:
"He's beginning to run, and I'm sure he'll have some difficult days in there when you start to run, now you test the knee, and normally as you go through that process you'll have some good days, you'll have some days where it swells up a little bit, and then you have to back off for a couple days. But we're very pleased with where he is."