It was fun being back on the field first of all. The last time I was out there it wasn't a win, so to be back out there around the guys, feel their energy, see how hard they've worked... there was really good communication and chemistry on the field.
I thought both Jalan McClendon and Jakobi Meyers came out with really good energy today. They threw the ball well, and their receivers caught it for them. There were some normal things that will happen in day one... for day one I thought it was a pretty clean practice for the offense.
For the defense, guys communicated well, they were chasing the football, and they had good intensity. We weren't tackling, there was no contact.
Thoughts on Eli Drinkwitz...
We have one new coordinator, Eli, it's working out great. We have a lot of work to do as an offense, defense, and special teams.
Guys have really taken hold of what he wants them to do. There are things they have to work on everyday to get to where we want to be, and we won't have it all in right away. It's going to take time. We're trying to get our DNA in right now. The basics of what we want to do on offense.
We have a few guys out too so there are some new guys taking advantage of reps right now.
The differences under Drinkwitz...
Every coordinator will have some differences. He'll play a little more uptempo than we did. We're still the same team as far as what kind of run plays we like. He's going to use cadences and audibles. Our screen game will probably have a little more to it.
We'll still be an inside-outside zone team, power team, with the ability to throw the ball down the field. Right now it's about the basics and fundamentals.
He seems really high-energy. Do you like that about him?
I do. Eli is a really positive person. He has great energy about him. He's very spiritual and treats the guys a certain way that I really like. Everything about him is uptempo. Everything, all day long. It's not fake. Everything he does is that way. It's fun to be around.
Are you being cautious with Matthew Dayes?
We are. Matt, if we're playing in a game we could play Matt right now, but putting him in a contact situation isn't something we need to do. We know what Matt is. We're trying to work on non-contact things with him... Reggie Gallaspy the same way.
They had foot injuries and for running backs that's a pretty important body part... they'll be out here doing all our fundamentals and non-contact work in the spring.
The running back situation...
You'll see Johnny Frasier and Nyheim Hines get a lot of work in the backfield, and eventually Dakwa Nichols, he was ill today... you'll see a lot of Johnny Frasier and Nyheim this spring.
How did Frasier use his redshirt year?
He grew up a lot. Coming from a small town, and really the competition he was playing against... he was out of shape, he'll tell you that. He's changed his body, and he's grown up a lot. The game is starting to slow down for him a little bit. Now it's about learning the terminology.
How important is spring practice?
Every practice is important. There isn't one that's not. Whether it's a new quarterback or new center... every single time we can be on the field and actively coaching a player it's a big deal.
What are the hurdles for your team?
Well, we lost three starters on the offensive line. For me, that's where everything begins on offense.
Defensively, we improved in a lot of areas but were disappointed with how many big plays we gave up. A lot of that is tackling... some of the underneath plays that went for big gains.
We need to be able to make some plays, both sides of the ball, down the field on deep passes. Those are some things we really want to work on.
How did moving Jonathan Alston to cornerback come about?
Well, J.A. was recruited heavily as a DB in high school. There's a chance he could end up back on offense.
For him, to see how he can do out there... losing Burris, we wanted to put more competition out there at corner. We didn't feel we had someone outside of Mike and Jack who had proven they deserved playing time yet.
We moved Vernon over there from offense and moving J.A. over there gives us two guys who have ball skills. If both of them can do it, great, but if one does the other can go back to the offensive side of the ball.
It just gives us a competitive, fast kid with ball skills.
You mentioned Frasier, have any other players changed themselves physically?
There are a lot of guys who have changed themselves... not just the offseason but in the fall. To pinpoint guys, Pharoah has lost 12 pounds and slimmed himself down. He looks really good right now. Jerod Fernandez is in the best shape he's been in. Justin Jones is up to 308 and B.J. Hill is up to 300... Monty is up to 314. We're bigger inside, and that can help us.
You nearly pulled the redshirt off Freddie Simmons. What do you see from him?
He and Steph Louis are two guys we didn't have in the lineup who are over 6'2. Both of them, we're excited about having on the field for us.
Freddie is a really, really good ball-catcher and he runs good routes. He's smooth. Steph is an explosive guy, a physical guy. Both of those guys we're excited about having back up and competing for a job.