You're used to hearing about certain soreness... credit goes to our players for their work ethic, but Dantonio and his staff... those guys did a great job this summer of pushing them.
Week two will be more difficult than week one, that's for sure. We look forward to that.
I think quite a bit of our install is in, so a chance for these guys, starting tomorrow, to clean up some things. You're looking at different things.
We had some players who had been in our system going on three and four years where now it's routine. They are playing fast, their communication is loud and confident, and they are helping younger players get through things. That's fun to watch as a coach... a lot of fun to watch.
You have guys that redshirted last year and they are a year into their development.
James Smith-Williams, he was 200 pounds a year ago and is 250 pounds now. Seeing his growth as a player, that's fun to watch.
Some guys that really stepped up in camp, there's a bunch of them. I'm really excited about the growth of some of the players.
Dexter Wright is a player that was on special teams a year ago and is really playing well. I'm excited about what he's doing and the depth we've created, particularly at safety. Josh Jones with Dexter behind him and Isaiah Stallings. That's three long guys who can run, catch the football, and make plays in space.
Shawn Boone has been healthy and consistent at strong safety. To watch him run around and then he comes out of the game and you can replace him with guys who can make plays as well.
Tim Glass, a freshman strong safety, has done some things there.
Nick McCloud, of the freshmen corners, is probably standing out the most.
Shug Frazier did some good things yesterday, one of our freshmen defensive linemen
Brock Miller is a really athletic linebacker. He made a couple of plays coming off the edge. We're excited about him.
Kelvin Harmon... seeing his growth has been good. He has a bright future. When the game slows down, he'll get better and better.
Jakobi Meyers is throwing and everything now, but we haven't been able to get him into the team. He's throwing the ball well, but we need to get him back to where he's running around and we can get him back in the competition.
We'll install the two-minute drill tomorrow night.
Our kickers, that competition has been going back and forth. Yesterday I don't think we did well. We have to get better there. Some days they've looked outstanding and some days they haven't. We need to become more consistent there.
From an injury standpoint, Brian Sessoms tore his achilles. We feel really bad for him, and he'll have surgery tomorrow. We know he'll work hard to get back. Brian is a very skilled player that was coming on. He would have helped us in the slot and provided depth there with what we have currently with Nyheim Hines, Maurice Trowell, and Gavin Locklear. There are players in there, but Brian's another guy.
C.J. Riley, one of our freshmen receivers, had a knee injury, and we're going to redshirt him. That was prior to fall camp when he first got here. Those three players, when you look at developing three players that will help us in 2017.
The tight ends and running backs will be used to throw the football too as well.
Thad Moss has been as good as we thought he would be. He can catch the ball, he's super mature, he's learning the system, and is very competitive as a blocker. As long as he continues to progress, he'll have a chance to play.
I've been impressed with our five guys up front. Now we're really trying to develop those backup positions at all five spots on the offensive line. Will Richardson is playing as good as I've seen him play at right tackle. Tony Adams is next to him, and Joe Scelfo has been an anchor in the middle for us.
Garrett Bradbury is at left guard, and Tyler Jones is probably our most improved guy from what I've seen from the summer... he squatted over 550 pounds... you can see it on the field. He's doing a good job.
They are competing against a deep and physical defensive line, so practice has been fun up front to watch.
I'm excited about our growth. This is a big week as they all are.
You mentioned picking up the playbook... do you think they are ahead of where they were in the spring, on offense?
They are way ahead. Even the freshmen, they are lining up, we don't have issues from an alignment standpoint.
Most of the things now are fatigue issues where you have to do the right thing when you're tired.
He hasn't had to slow down or back-down on his install. Guys have picked it up and continue to get better and better.
Specifically, what do you see now depth-wise on the offensive line?
Our size... there are 17 guys on scholarship on the offensive line and that's the most we've had since I've been here. We were at 13 a year ago. We've recruited hard to get taller at a lot of positions, and if you look at our young guys you'll see that.
Kendall Brown has a 7-foot wingspan... seeing him stand there, and Justin Chase has a 6'9 wingspan. Long-arms, wide-bodied guys that we need to have in this league. That's the biggest thing... now it's just getting them the reps.
Peter Daniel is a walk-on from Broughton... I'm excited about what he's been able to do. Bryce Kennedy can play right or left guard and is a backup for us right now. Joe Sculthorpe, one of our freshmen has also done a nice job in fall camp. He's one of the young guys getting reps with the two's.
What do you hope to see from the quarterbacks on Saturday?
I hope they play really well. I don't know how the defense feels about that. It's going to be a competitive environment, and I'd like to see them not make mistakes. Manage the game... take what is there.
Coach Drinkwitz has a saying for those guys, "You can't go broke taking a profit"... take what's there. Creating plays they are capable of creating for us and managing the other 10 guys on the field.
We'll probably have a bad play or two but how will they bounce back from that?
How has Johnny Frasier been?
He has had his best week since he's been here.
He's been really focused, he's shown up everyday with the same attitude. He's been very coachable, and he's working hard. I'm excited about what he can do.
I've been impressed with what he's done. From where he was a year ago to now, it's much different.
Is it fair to say that Matt Dayes, Jaylen Samuels, and Nyheim Hines will drive the bus and you need the quarterback to not make mistakes?
Don't screw it up... a year from now we'll have a two-year starter at quarterback, and now it's... there's some talented dudes around our quarterback and our front five, if we can keep them healthy, they are physical and athletic.
You're sitting there with Cole Cook, Jaylen Samuels, Pharoah McKever, and Thad Moss at tight end and then Matt Dayes, Dakwa Nichols, Johnny Frasier, and Reggie Gallaspy at running back. The biggest thing is outside of Steph, Bra'lon, Nyheim, and Trowell, it's getting some more younger guys at receiver to step up.
Have the injuries at wideout affected your plans for Nyheim? Is Nyheim Hines still at wide receiver and running back?
We had him in the slot when we started camp, and obviously he'll stay there, especially with Brian Sessoms out. Nyheim is being cross-trained to being in the backfield so we can do things with him there as well.
It's about making sure that he and Jaylen Samuels have enough knowledge in the backfield so we can get them the football when we want to.
You mentioned you still have 12 receivers, are there some guys at the lower part of that 12 who can take advantage with the injuries?
The guy that needs to take the next step is Maurice Trowell. He's a gifted player and played in meaningful games. He had a couple of big moments in the Wake Forest game. I think he has a tremendous skillset... I think he can help us quite a bit.
I think we kind of know what we have at other spots. Kelvin is going to keep getting better and better as he gets more and more confident. He's a big guy that can run. We have to get him through the butterflies and all the things that happen as a freshman.
What's the latest on Coult Culler?
Coult has been injured and we haven't got him back yet, so hopefully we will.
We love Coult as an offensive lineman and we loved him when he was on the d-line. He's just a blue-collar kid who works hard and cares about his teammates.
Is that long-term?
I'm not sure yet.
What is the pecking order at tight end?
Cole Cook is our starting Y-position with his hand down,and Jaylen Samuels is our H, our move tight end. Pharoah also plays in that spot, moves around, and Thad Moss can play both. Clark Eyers is another Y that we have.
We've had four tight ends in the game at once during fall camp. It's just all about what coach Drinkwitz is trying to do.
Reggie Gallaspy is almost the forgotten guy at running back. How is his recovery coming along?
Slow. He missed spring ball. He's healthy and his foot is a little sore as you'd expect.
Reggie is a guy that's a pleaser. He doesn't like to do things wrong. He really processes information. He was kind of a guy last season who wasn't a part of what we were doing until midway through the year when it clicked.
I would hope in year two he can pick it up a little bit... he's a load. He has good vision, patience, and protects the football well.
What is the identity of the defense?
If you talk to our guys they will tell you that first and foremost they want to stop the run, second they want to pressure the quarterback, and third they want to take the ball away. That is our identity, and you can do it in a lot of different ways.
We have eight starters back and they are all practicing really hard. We worked as hard as anybody can work on pursuit in the offseason because I think that's how you can limit big plays.
Dravious Wright has had a great fall camp. He's been really explosive. A lot of talk goes into our d-line and they've been very deserving of it.
Mike Stevens had a really good day at practice yesterday, which we need. We need our guys in the backend to make more plays. We need more interceptions.
When you look back at the defense, did you have to remind yourself that maybe statistically you weren't as bad as you looked in the last two games, or are you only as good as your last couple of games?
I look at it collectively. There's a lot of improvements statistically and the big play aspect that drives home a bad feeling.
You need to ask yourself why are those things happening? It was simple. Big plays occur when you don't leverage the ball, don't tackle well, and don't have good pursuit. It's a combination of those things, along with getting beat in one-on-one coverage which happens to everybody.
When you have eight new starters like we did last year, some of that is expected.
There were some games where we did wear down... I don't think we had the depth we needed to have. We had a couple of injuries, losing Shawn Boone last year was a big deal. He was our best tackling defensive back.
When you're playing all the skill we have on our schedule and with spread offenses, it's important to have a safety that gets the guy down, and that's the best thing Shawn does.
Jarius is backing him up and having a heckuva camp. I'm excited about that.
How much of an impact player can Bradley Chubb be for you this year?
I think he can be a great player.
Bradley is quick, he's big at 280 pounds, and he's smart football-wise. He's down here today. The guys have free time now and he's sitting on coach Nielsen's couch watching film.
He's devoted to what he wants to be. He wants to be an All-ACC defensive lineman. He knows he's wearing Mario's number, and he has to represent it. I think he will.
I'm excited to watch him, and I'm also excited for the defensive ends that play away from him. When you're in a defense with a dominant player, the other guy can get the one-on-one block. Whether it's Kentavius, Darian, or James, they are going to have some opportunities playing opposite [Bradley Chubb].
I look forward to watching that.
How would you describe Ryan Finley?
Ryan is very intelligent. He's won a job before, played and won games as a starter so he has experience going through that. Sitting in a meeting room with coach Drink for a year.. those are things that you can say no one else has done on our team.
As a person, he came into our locker room as a transfer and jumped right in with our guys. I respect him for that. Sometimes transfers come in and think they know everything, but he blended right in with the team.
What is it you like about Jarius Morehead?
He understands football and show it on film. He sees things and reacts to it... you really can't coach his instincts.
He knows where to be and doesn't make many mistakes. If you look at our special teams units you'll find him, which means that our coaches trust him. It's excited to have a redshirt freshman that everyone feels that way about.