How nice is it to be out practicing again?
It is great. We have great weather. I thought we had good energy. We have been really working hard on competing, playing smart. With the experience we have back I thought we could improve on a lot, the way we practice.
You are playing against each other so ultimately you want to make sure you stay safe and play on your feet, but you want to compete and play smart. We have to push each other and create that competitive depth.
We have had three practices, and I thought we had a very good practice that way.
How important is experience on a football team?
The one thing I can't do is make a guy more experienced. You can't replace that, so having these guys that have been through the new installations multiple times, guys that have been through game situations, guys that have fought to earn positions... it's invaluable.
Their opportunity to use that platform is important. They need to use it right and that's one thing we've talked to our upperclassmen about.
How much of an impact does the improved play late last season have now?
Winning three out of the last four is a great thing. The way we played in our bowl game against a SEC team knowing that we have to open the season with one that is a really good football team is important.
We went into the offseason program with a great bounce. Our whole team watching Clemson win the game for the championship, it was great for them to see that too because obviously we played a good football game against them.
They understand the value that every rep matters. Everything that we do matters. You can't take a day, play, rep or anything off if you want to be able to make a difference in those games.
What position are you worried about going into the spring?
All of them. We are trying to create depth at some spots where we know who our starters are and trying to find guys that are going to replace people that left.
We are fortunate in that, obviously, Tocho is gone, but Nick McCloud was able to play a lot at the end of the year. We knew what Nick would be able to do. Dexter Wright was able to play a lot last year so we knew what he'd be able to do with Josh Jones leaving. Germaine Pratt, we had him in all our bowl practices. We knew what he'd be able to do to help us at linebacker.
Offensive line, we have Garrett Bradbury played center last year during spring ball. It wasn't like we were blind to if he can do it. Tony Adams has done it before so it is really not a matter of trying to figure out who can do what.
These guys that were redshirted last year, right now we are seeing if they can help us next year. Isaiah Stallings, let's see what he can do. C.J. Riley coming off that knee injury, what can he do at receiver?
How are you liking the new position coaches?
It is fun to watch Aaron and coach Patrick work and, like I told our players, it is going to take time. They are trying to learn a system -- for Aaron it was 14 days, for Kevin it was a week -- and they then walk into a room and try to teach it to guys that probably know it better than them, so it takes time.
The relationship part of it is the biggest thing -- the connection these kids have with their coaches. That is what I am most proud of. They have done a great job.
The X's and O's part of it, these guys are experienced when it comes to understanding what they want from players. That is the most fun for me, just watching it grow between the coaches and players.
Was Chubb's decision to return hard for him?
It was. It is a big decision. I think the thing I am most proud of with Bradley is how he did it. He took his time, got all the information, talked to all of the people that mattered to him -- his family, his brother -- and made it for the right reasons.
He learned what things he can do to improve his stock. He knew he could get closer to being a college graduate. When you move from fourth or fifth in the draft in your position group to first or second you are talking about 20 million dollars so he knows the financial end of that. If he does what he's supposed to do, it can be life changing.
Your thoughts on the running back group?
That position, because Reggie is still coming back from injury and Johnny as well, Nyheim and Jay Sam are working back there. Dakwa Nichols has done a great job the first three days. Those are the five people that we'll be working with. I look forward to all of them taking reps, seeing what each guy can do and how we can use them.
Who is getting a look at the nickel spot?
Freddie Phillips will go back to nickel. He was nickel as a freshman. Last year played corner, so we have moved him back to nickel. Him and Trey Meadows and Bryce Banks, are three guys that are all long kids that can cover.
They were all high school corners and have grown to long guys that are over 200 pounds, which at that position as a real hybrid you have got to play in the box and tackle like Dravious did but also be able to cover.
The slot receivers in our league are no joke. You are matched up on some good players.
What's the difference from last year to now as far as the receiver group?
You think about it; Steph was coming a double-shoulder and Kelvin wasn't here. Both of those guys had incredible years. Steph was almost 20 yards per catch. Kelvin broke the freshman record for touchdowns. Neither one of them were on the field together last year until fall camp.
There is going to be growth. We know that we are long way from making any decisions on some spots. There is going to be continued growth. Jakobi Meyers is now playing a position that he's being trained at instead of just getting thrown in there. He had some nice plays that he made today.
Our ability to move J-Sam and Nyheim in and out of the backfield can create matchups that will be big for our offense.