It was a good spring. We got a lot accomplished. I was really pleased with how hard our guys practiced and put the momentum from the end of our season, winning 4 of the last 5 games, and entered the off-season with a lot of good energy, good confidence. Guys learned, as a young team, the do's and don'ts of preparation, I think, and saw the results in how we played at the end of the year.
It was fun to be the head coach here this spring. There was just a lot of competition at various positions. The way Jacoby and Jalan threw the ball around.
We had several players we held out, just being banged up like we were after the Bowl game, trying to get David Grinnage and several defensive linemen healthy. So a lot of young guys were able to take part in the drill work.
Saw great strides on the offensive line. Tyler Jones at left tackle had a great spring, got a lot better for us. Will Richardson got better and better and better as we went.
It's good to have our inside three back, Quinton Schooley, Joe Thuney, and Tony Adams are very veteran, good players with good chemistry playing well together.
Alex Barr returns. The guy has three years of experience on the O-line and is very motivated to have a great senior year.
Benson Browne and David Grinnage, Jaylen Samuels did some good things at tight end. I had a receiver, Bra'Lon Cherry, had a really good finish to his spring. He was a little banged up at the beginning and finished really strong.
It was great to have Gavin Locklear back. He had an injury last season in the summer. One of the best leaders in the receiver room and did a nice job being a constant presence for the quarterback position.
We moved a young man over to receiver named Elliott Davis from DB, and he did a nice job. He was probably the most explosive player. And Jumichael Ramos probably made the most big plays in the position group. Running back, Matt Dayes and Shad Thornton and we have a freshman that's here already, Reggie Gallaspy, that had nice springs for us. On defense we have a lot of players back with experience. If we counted the other day, there's nine different guys in our secondary, if you include our nickels, that played for us last year-- three linebackers, five or six defensive linemen.
So excited, even though we're young, we're experienced. Experienced sophomore teams, experienced junior class, probably the biggest question mark going into the fall will just be the production at the kicker and punter position because we lost such veteran players there, two four-year starters.
So the kids here competed hard this spring and was impressed with them, but it's going to be about game day for that position.
Spring game here was tremendous, had a great crowd, a lot of people here supporting not only the football team, but the Kay Yow spring game raised over $16,000. So very thankful for that. Look forward to a good summer.
I know you brought up Jacoby and Jalan and just what you can say about each of them individually, how they looked through the spring.
Yeah, they looked great. Both of them can make every throw. They're very competitive. Jalan is going through kind of a learning curve we saw Jacoby in two springs ago, how to manage the clock and how to take care of the huddle, and when we want to go fast, how to operate. He's got tremendous leadership skills, very competitive and super coachable. It's fun watching him progress through the spring.
And Jacoby on the other side of it has just turned into such a great manager of what we do and very consistent, doesn't have a lot of change in his personality, good play, bad play. Just keeps playing, and excited to have both those guys in the quarterback room.
As far as how you kind of look at it going into the fall, is Jacoby the guy for you? Or is Jalan someone who can fight his way getting the opportunity? How do you view your quarterbacks going forward?
Jacoby is our starting quarterback, there's no doubt. He's a senior. He played his butt off as a junior, excited for him. But also excited to have a guy as good as Jalan behind him. You can look at Ohio State and see how important your next quarterback is, and for them, the next and the next.
We're not going to enter the season with a controversy or anything like that. We're just excited about the quality of both of our guys, and we hope that we can get Jalan some great minutes and get him ready to be the guy in it case that would happen.
Coach Doeren, can you talk about how Darian Roseboro acclimated himself as a freshman that graduated early from high school, from Lincolnton?
Absolutely. I just met with him today. Had a great conversation. He's grown up a lot. I'm just really glad he was able to come in early. He has such a great family. I knew homesickness would be an issue, and it was. I'm glad he didn't have to go through that during the fall semester.
But he got over it pretty quickly and is really acclimated. Took a lot of reps with our starting defense because Mike Rose is out for spring with an injury. So he was the beneficiary of a ton of repetitions, and I know that made him so much better. He had two great plays in the spring game.
So excited for Darian. Now it's just going to be a matter of getting some shape so he can play the way he wants to play every snap, and the conditioning factor that's just completely different than the high school level.
He played all over the map in high school, including offense. Is there any thought to do that with him at your level, or do you see him as a defensive lineman specifically?
He'll be a D-lineman. I have used D-linemen in goal line packages before. If we get to the point where we feel he can help us win, we'll have that conversation. Right now he's trying to learn what side of the ball he's on and do all the things we need him to do at D-line, so I think it's premature for that.
Coach, what have you seen from the defensive units as a whole this spring that has impressed you more than anything else?
A lot of the guys are back. So the chemistry, their ability to communicate with each other and know where each other is going to be. We do a lot of things offensively here. So you have to be able to adjust and make your calls and adjust your rules all the time. You just see how well they function as a unit together now.
Last year there were three new starters in the secondary. So there was a lot of new things happening, there was new starters at every position. We have a lot of guys back that have taken valuable game reps, and it's just a lot more fluid.
We're building off what we did last year. I think we finished the season bringing a lot of different pressures, and it helped our kids. We've built on that here in the off-season. The guys are excited about what they're doing, and they understand what's asked, and where the strengths and weaknesses of the calls are.
Good afternoon. You've got some holes to fill on the starting offensive and defensive lines. How do those holes look to you coming out of the spring?
I'm excited about our D-line. Mike Rose is back. So is B.J. Hill, who played in every game as a true freshman last year, started almost all of them. Kentavius Street, we've moved to D-tackle and had a really good spring. Bradley Chubb was probably one of the best surprises of the spring on the defensive line.
And then we had a number of players that played last year that are coming back in the fall from injuries-- Monty Nelson, Justin Jones, Garrett Bradbury. So we feel good about the depth, and we recruited well on that side of the ball.
We've got four D-linemen coming in here in less than a month. So excited to get those four bodies in here too. Two defensive ends that are 6'5" and 6'7", and two D-tackles that are over 320 pounds. So we're happy with the D-line.
On offensive line, I already mentioned the three starters that are back, in Alex Barr and Tyler Jones, had a really good spring, and Will Richardson, who's gotten better and better and better. Bryce Kennedy, who we need to step up this summer, and did some good things, just needs to be more consistent.
We have a junior college tackle, Daris Workman, that will be here in May, and three high school tackles that will be here in June. So we're going to be a little bit younger filling those holes possibly on the offensive line than we are on the defensive line, but we like who we have to work with.
Coach, last time we talked was right after the spring game. I was wondering, now that you've had a chance to go back and watch the film, what stood out to you about that?
Well, the way we took care of the ball on offense. There was a lot of snaps in that game, and there was no turnovers. Defensively, we tackled pretty well. I thought there were some great runs by some of the backs, Matt Dayes and Reggie and Shad had a really nice run after the catch. The quarterbacks did a nice job taking care of the football.
Defensively, I think we're stopping the run about our first defense very well, and the second defense has got to step up a little bit. Part of that's the guys that were out of the game.
You just see a bunch of guys that know the systems, that are playing within it and know what to do, playing fast. And some of the backup guys, Shawn Boone played with the ones all day, did a great job. Germaine Pratt came in and did a great job. It was fun to see some of the freshmen get out there and make plays, Reggie and Darian and James Smith-Williams and Riley Nicholson and Ford Howell. There are some young players that just got here that are out here playing and playing well.
Really what I saw was what I thought it was going to be. Offensive line-wise, I think we got bodies on bodies. We picked up pressures pretty well. We need to work on our vertical movement in the run game, displacing people, creating some bigger lanes for our backs. That's why you play those games so you can find the things that you've got to focus on for the summer.
Now that McKever had a full season on defense and is starting to feel more comfortable on that side of the ball, how much more of a weapon can he be for you this season?
It depends how strong he can get. He's a guy that was a role player a year ago. Was a good pass rush, third down type guy that could do a lot of different things in our third down package. We'd like him to be a first down, second down, third down player.
When you go from receiver, quarterback, safety, to D-line, there's a huge curve when it comes to playing the run. Pass rush, an athlete's an athlete. But in the run game, you've really got to be able to bend and be strong and handle double teams and different blocking schemes.
So for Pharaoh, his biggest progress is going to come from his strength. He knows that. He's just going to grind all summer and get stronger and stronger. He improved a lot in the spring, and I think that's the biggest thing, to see him go from being a role player to an every down starter is just going be to the lower body strength.
How much weight has he gained since the end of the season?
Not too much. He's still around the same weight. He's just trying to make sure he's got the right weight, getting rid of body fat and turning everything into lean muscle. He's a big old guy. I mean, I don't even know his exact weight right now. I met with him the other day, and he said he's been maintaining. So it's really not going to be his weight that matters as much as his strength.