“It’s finally here. It’s been something like 245 days since we lined up against another opponent and I think our team is extremely excited, they’re tired of camp, they’re tired of hitting each other, and all the different things that go along with training camp. They’re biting at the bit to go out there and play another team.”
Who is going to trot out there under center on Saturday?
“We haven’t made that decision yet, somebody is going to go out there. It’ll probably a quarterback though.”
Can you say why you haven’t announced the decision publicly?
“Because it bothers a lot of people. That’s probably the number one reason, is that everybody wants to ask about it. It just gives me pleasure.”
When might you let either of those guys know?
“They’ll know this week. I don’t know that anybody else will know, because I doubt that I will change anything the way we’re doing it in practice, because we’ve been very meticulous on how we’ve repped them in practice, and made sure they’ve both gotten reps with every group and we’ll continue to do that. The game plan is completely done, we have the game plan in, with no practice today, tomorrow’s our last real work day, not meaning we won’t get any work done the rest of the week, but we start tapering back, cutting back for the kids, we’ll refine some things, I think at that point, we’ll start trying to decide on how we want to do it.”
Could we see both quarterbacks against Liberty, regardless of who starts?
“In every season, no matter what, you’d like to be prepared in case something happens, as happened last year when Bryn went down. Marquise had reps, and I think that helped us, it helped us in the first game that he played in, and along down the stretch. You’d always like your No. 2 guy to have some meaningful experience heading into the season, and until we make a decision, how we’re going to do it, that may play a part in it, yes.”
Do you anticipate scripting some time in there for the guy who doesn’t start?
“I hadn’t made that decision, but that’s a good suggestion, I hadn’t thought about that.”
Is it a situation where neither guy has gone out and grabbed the reins of that starting position?
“You could say that if you want.”
Is that something that concerns you?
“No. I’m not concerned. I’ve said from all the way back in the spring that I believe we have two guys that we can win with. It’s really not a position that I’m deeply concerned about. Actually, I’ve got a lot more concerns at other positions than I am at that position. In fact, if we get to a point, and we will get to a point where we have that type of competition at every position on this football team, when we do, we’re going to be a really good football team. We’re going to reach the goals that we all have.”
How do you think you’re going to handle the tailback situation?
“That’s another thing we’re trying to iron out. You only get so many snaps in a game and so we're trying to figure out how we’re going to distribute that. It’s still going to boil down to, behind the scenes, it’s always the guy that’s most productive, the guy that produces, that guy that shows the offense is better when he’s on the field, that’s the guy that’s going to get the majority of the touches. That’s the way it’s going to work, it’s always going to work that way here, and that’s at every position, offensively, defensively, and special teams. So, we’re still trying to iron that out, at the pace we go we need to keep a guy fresh. We don’t want a guy to get worn out and not be there in the fourth quarter. So, we’re always going to hopefully keep a guy ready to go.”
How do they stack up in pass protection?
“[It’s] probably the most improvement we’ve made across the board as a position. I think those guys have really stepped up. Now, Coach [Larry] Porter feels comfortable with any one of those four guys back there, in terms of pass protection. All four of those guys can catch the ball out of the backfield. They can all actually run routes, and I’m not just talking about running routes out of the backfield, and that’s something we’ve tinkered with. We’re excited about what we’re doing with those backs out of the backfield right now.”
Have you received any clarification on the Ethan Farmer situation?
“No. Not yet.”
Do you anticipate having that before Saturday?
“I’d love to. But, I don’t anticipate anything. It’s out of our control. I don’t know the speed of it. Nobody has indicated to me that it’ll happen one way or another. So, I have no way of knowing. We’re preparing both ways actually, which makes it a little bit tougher, but we are preparing both ways.”
You said quarterback wasn’t a position you’re deeply concerned about. What positions are you deeply concerned about?
“I said going into this, I’m concerned with our depth on both fronts, the offensive and defensive lines. We’ve got some depth on the offensive line, but all of it is inexperience. A lot of them, the only experience they’ve got is what they got in spring ball or what they got in fall camp. So, that concerns me, especially at that position. When you’re that young at that position it’s a difficult thing, because that’s probably the toughest position to play when you’re that young and inexperienced. Same thing with the defensive line, because of some attrition over there, it’s a concern for me right now.”
What has T.J. Logan done from spring of last year through camp in terms of improvement?
“He’s gotten bigger, he’s gotten faster, and he’s gotten stronger. There is no question now he understands the entire offense and what we’re trying to do with him. He was injured at the beginning of the year last year, I don’t remember exactly when it was, midseason when he started playing. So, at the end of the year when he was playing his best ball, that was probably about midseason form for him. So, I’m expecting a lot more out of him than what we got from him last season.
"I think he’s a lot more comfortable back there. The tempo and the pace of how we do things is much different especially for a guy coming out of high school. So there’s some transition there, and how you handle that in a game. There were times where T.J. would go four plays and he’d be ready to roll out of there, because his tongue is hanging out. A lot of that is because of adrenaline and nervous energy that you’re burning. I think now, there’s a comfort level back there for him.”
In regards to Liberty, this is a lower division opponent, how do you make sure guys aren’t overconfident?
“You hope it’s the culture we create, when we talk about our brand playing smart, fast, and physical football. The next game is the most important game, and it’s really the only this team has talked about. And that is something that is emphasized from the very beginning. That’s it, there’s nothing else. And when anybody asked about anything else on the schedule, I hope to a man they’ve all answered it the right way, because that’s where our focus is. I’m going tell you, this is a good football team, a very veteran football team.
"I think they have seven seniors starting on the defense. You have a quarterback back who is up for all the awards. You have a receiver, No. 13, who is a heck of a receiver that can play anywhere. Great speed, catches the ball six foot two hundred and ninety pounds. You have an offensive lineman that they moved to guard, who has got 23 or 24 starts, he’s six foot five three hundred pounds, he’s a good player. There is not a difference in size; they’re big up front on both sides of the ball. I know Turner Gill from playing him in the past and watching his teams, they’re going to be solid; they’re going to be sound. I mean they scored 37 points a game last year; they did some really good things. Our team, I don’t think there’s a chance our team is going to be looking anywhere else.
Has anybody separated themselves at the defensive end position?
“Dajaun Drennon has really stepped up and had a heck of a camp. He’s come a long way. I think he’s up there around 260 pounds, he can really run, and he’s really strong. He has really benefited from his year and a half with Lou and his staff. They’ve done a great job. So, he will be our starter going into this game.”
Has he been the most pleasant surprise in camp?
“I’d have to throw that on a guy that’s not even a starter right now. Jo-Jo, Joe Jackson. He’s a different player than he was in spring. He was ‘just ok’ to ‘wow, we got to make sure Joe gets on the field.’ He came in as a different person. His offseason work, his summer work, and just his attitude, the way he’s attacked practice everyday. I’d have to give it to him, that’s who I’d throw out there, and he’s not even starting.”
What did John Ferranto do to separate himself at left tackle?
“I think John has been the most consistent. He’s doing a really nice job pass blocking. His run blocking is probably where his strength is, he’s an aggressive kid he’s pretty athletic. I’d say right now he’s the guy who has separated himself at that left tackle position, and that’s why were going to name him the starter.”
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