How is practice going?
It's going good. We finished finals yesterday so guys were pretty rambunctious, has good energy. WE're working against each other today and tomorrow... state championships are here so we'll crank up our Vanderbilt gameplans on Sunday and through the week until we leave town.
Does this feel like an opportunity to show where you are?
I think it's a great opponent for a lot of reasons. They are a team that finished well, and so did well. I think the world of coach Mason and his staff, and watching their kids on tape, they play hard.
It's a really good team that plays hard. When you play a team that's beat Georgia, Tennessee, and Ole Miss, it's a great opponent for us. Both of us finished the season playing our butts off to get in a bowl game so both of us will be hungry.
More on bowl practice setup...
We gave them two weeks where we spent time in the weight room... time in the training room, and then on the weekends, we got a lot of developmental work in with the guys.
They had ample time to recover, get their bodies feeling better, and let those young guys get a ton of reps. You can't go too much and wear them out.
At the end of the day, we have to play fast in that game. That's some of the discussions I had with some of the players, our strength staff, our training room staff, our coaching staff... what's the best way to balance recovery, weight lifting, practice, and trying to study for finals.
How does game-prep go?
A lot maybe depends on who you are playing. If you're playing a team that runs systems you haven't seen, you'd probably take more time... a triple-option team, something like that. They do a lot of things we've seen done, and I'm sure we're the same way for them.
Today, this will be our fifth practice... tomorrow we'll work on timing... we'll have a game-week basically, and we'll leave town, get down there, and repeat it. We're really getting about double game prep, and about five or six good developmental opportunities.
Can it be overstated how invaluable these practice sessions can be?
Not just the practice, but the meeting time where you get to re-install systems with the guys. You get to watch film of kids who've been on scout teams all year and you can watch them on tape. We really haven't coached them since training camp where you're talking about our systems.
That time is valuable as well.
You have juniors Bradley Chubb and Josh Jones who had really good years for you. Where are they at in the process RE: the NFL?
We submitted their information, and we're jsut waiting for it to come back. They are focused on this bowl game. Once we get the information back, we'll sit down and here's what they said, here's all the different scenarios, this is what you gain by leaving, here is the situation if you come back.
We'll go through the pros and cons with their mom and dad, or whoever is involved, and you let them make a great decision.
You mention the progress on defense. Can you give a word about each of them on how they played for you?
We played young players on that side of the ball and took our lumps, got humbled I think. We got better and improved in the weight room and practice. Bradley and Josh are two guys who stood out from a statistical standpoint.
I think Josh became a much better teammate to the guys in the locker room this past year. He really focused on his tackling. He became our leading tackler and hasn't missed many tackles. Last year there were a lot of pass interference plays where he was around the ball, and now he's breaking up passes and playing with better control. There's things he knows he can work on still.
Bradley is disruptive and making the plays in the backfield where a year ago sometimes he'd get there and miss the play. He's strong, so he's really good in the run game.
Both of them practice hard too. They've learned to be great practice players which helps them. Josh Jones has a notebook every week where he's going through the opponent, writing things down, studying film, so just learning how to be the best that he can be through preparation has helped him.
What is your reaction to the situation at Wake?
That's a crazy situation. I know they are doing their investigations, looks like the ACC is as well. On our end, it's just been what we've read in the paper.
I don't have a lot to say about it other than it's their issue and you hate to see stuff like that.
Have you heard of stuff like that before?
Not to that extent.