“Alright, it was really good to get the spring game done, or spring scrimmage, whatever you want to call it. We got some good reps today, some bad things, as there are in every situation, especially when you’re playing yourself, but some good things for us to learn from in every phase except special teams, since we didn’t really do special teams today. But offense, defense, there will be a lot of different things we can learn from today that we’ll go back and we’ll teach a lot of guys. We had the scrimmage or game the way we ran it because of some injuries at certain positions, and we weren’t deep enough to be able to split into two teams and play a true game. That’s why we did it the way we did it. We still thought we got a lot out of them.”
What did you like?
“When you create four turnovers on defense, I like that. We had four picks. But then, I don’t like it on the other side, so there were some good things. There were some young guys that got an opportunity to get out there in front of a crowd for the first time and get some butterflies out of their stomachs and not really do as well as they had been, and they’ll learn from that experience so that next time they go out there, if it’s September 3rd, they’ll be a little bit better.”
What did you do differently this spring than you did last year?
“For one thing, if you go all the way back to the spring of last year, we did nothing but base and didn’t do anything else, and that’s all they did for 15 days. This year, because of where we left off, these guys were able to expand everything and get into seven-man fronts, eight-man fronts, different blitz packages, a lot of things we weren’t able to do with last year’s team. We were just able to elevate it to another level for those guys as far as what’s put in. Then we come out of the spring with a better understanding of all of it.”
Has Jonathan Smith impressed you with what he’s shown this spring?
“Yeah, he really has. He’s come in here and handled everything, because, you think about it, he came in in January and we’ve put more in this year, defensively, than we did last year in the spring. He was starting from scratch, and he really did a nice job. He studies it, he learns and he’s made plays for us throughout the spring. He’s gotten a lot of reps.”
How have you liked Myles Dorn’s play?
“Myles Dorn, really, I’m gonna tell you, Myles Dorn, Myles Wolfork, all of those guys that have come in early, those eight guys that came in, they have all—That’s one thing about this spring—They have all been able to get a lot of reps. There was not a position where they didn’t get a lot of reps. Probably Logan Byrd at the quarterback position had the fewest of all of them. The rest of them? They were in extensive playing time in meaningful time in all of the scrimmages and all of the practices. Myles Dorn, Myles Wolfork, Jonathan Smith, they got a lot over there. It was really, those were guys that it was impressive. It was impressive to see what they were able to handle. You can tell when they started getting into an overload, mentally, and the smoke was starting to come out of their ears, they’re making more mistakes in practice, but then you pull back a little bit, let them relax, and they just did a nice job in the spring.”
What did you see out of Mitch Trubisky today?
“I thought he had a pretty good command of the offense. I think he threw one pick there on the sideline, Des (Lawrence) made a great play on that ball. It was a well-thrown ball. He didn’t miss many throws, I thought he did a good job.”
What did you think of your offensive execution?
“Just from standing back there, to me, I’m mad if we don’t score every drive. But, on the other side of it, there were some really good things. I don’t want to stand here and say one side was better than the other, I think that both sides benefited from what we did today. That’s the tough thing about a spring game, there were good things in some situations, and I thought there were bad things on both sides of the ball, so we know as a team we’ve got a lot to work on, and we’re gonna be a lot better because of what we did today. We’re gonna be a lot better than we did this spring, and we spent a lot of time on a lot of guys getting a lot of reps, because we know from experience those guys that are twos and threes are gonna play for you in the fall, and you’re gonna need them to be able to be successful.”
Was there a concern you had this spring, and what was it?
“You guys know me, I’ve got a lot of concerns. I don’t think we solved any problem that we had this spring. I think we’ve still got a long way to go, but I’m happy with the things that we’ve done, so we can learn from them. There were some series out there that weren’t good, there were some series that were really good. That’s the thing about spring, when you’re going against yourself, the objective is not really to see who can win each day. We were competing, but it’s not about the winning, but it’s about making sure we install the things that we need to install, make sure our guys really understand it well when we finish spring. I think our guys have a pretty good understanding. Now, we’ve got to go back and really get detailed with everybody to become a better football team.”
What did you see out of the linebackers today?
“I thought Jonathan Smith made some plays today, I thought Cayson Collins made some plays today, Cole Holcomb made some plays today. J.B. Copeland wasn’t out there today, he wasn’t able to go. Hunter Crafford, Aidan Bonilla, they all made some plays today, but they made some mistakes, also. That’s what I’m saying: I don’t think we’ve arrived anywhere, we’ve still got a long way to go and we understand that. Our guys understand that, so that’s probably what’s most important.”
Were you experimenting with John Ferranto at right guard?
“We were. Earlier in the week, we decided, ‘Hey, let’s throw him inside and see what he can do.’ John, right now, we feel comfortable he can jump out at tackle and knows it really well, so it was like let’s get him as many as a guard also and see what he can do there. We’re gonna get our best five on the field. If he can help us at the guard, and he’s one of our best five, then that’s where he’ll play.”
R.J. Prince got some work on the line, what’s that situation shaping up like?
“We’re competing. I tell you guys all the time, we’re competing at every position, and even though Jon Heck’s been the starter, Prince is pushing him. The way he’s been practicing, he deserved reps with the ones, so we were gonna get him reps with the ones. When we say we’re gonna compete, we’re gonna compete, and we’re gonna allow them to compete.”
So R.J.’s making a lot of progress?
“I think he’s made a lot of progress.”
Do you think this offensive line will be better than last year even though you lost Landon Turner?
“I don’t know. I hope we are. I hope we’re better—I really hope there’s not a position on the field that we’re not better at. I really do. I hope offensively we’re better. I hope defensively we’re better and I hope in all of special teams, we’re better. I really do think that way. That’s the thing, is that we went back and looked at everything we did, it was letting our guys, let them see. They can see it on film, ‘Wow, we really can be better.’ But we haven’t reached anything. We really can be a lot better. There was a lot of focus on fundamentals and techniques that we need in all of these phases, that we need to master so that we can become good football players. You can put that all together, it’s still gonna boil down to what leadership we end up with, the chemistry, what kind of bond this football team has, what kind of locker room we have, all of that’s gonna make a difference in our success.”
Is it hard to build that leadership with so many experienced guys injured?
“It’s difficult—Anytime you’re trying to build chemistry and all those things, when guys aren’t out there, it makes it tougher. But, you don’t really have a choice. Those guys can’t go, so now we have to have that mentality that the next guy steps up, and we still have to build that chemistry and that bond because, like I said earlier, there’s gonna be guys that play for us that we’re not expecting to play. They’re gonna play for us. Something’s gonna happen, somebody’s gonna have to go, it happens every year. So everything we do in the spring just pays off. Everything we do in camp for that, and just making sure those guys get a bunch of reps, pays off. So you have an established player like Bug Howard, whose got plenty of reps, and we know what kind of player he is, he wasn’t able to go today. We’re okay. We know where Bug is, he had a really good spring, he made a lot of good plays, and so he doesn’t go today, but it gives (Austin) Proehl and other guys opportunities to jump out there and see what they can do. It’ll be good for us.”
Can you be better at quarterback?
“Well, I hope so. Again, I hope we can be better at quarterback, I hope we can be better at the right guard, every position we have left, I hope we can be better at. That’s the goal. That’s the goal. We had some guys that were very, very productive last year, but these guys stepping into those roles know that, ‘Hey, this is my job, my job is to be better than we were last year at this position.’ We have a ways to go. Again, we have a long way to go. But I think it can happen.”
Where did you get your practice scoring system from?
“We got that from the Seahawks a couple years ago. That’s where we got the system. They’ve always done a deal—We use that every day in practice. So anytime the offense and the defense are going against each other in any phase of practice, we use that scoring system to create competition. Again, you know, just so they know what they’re doing. It was 70-74? It’s not the score that you’re used to, but that way, within the practice, your defense has an opportunity to see how they’re performing. It’s not just, ‘Did we keep them from scoring touchdowns?’ So, it’s really not a difficult deal. First and second downs, if the offense gets four or more yards, they get a point. If the defense holds them to less than four yards on second down, they get a point. Turnovers are three points for the defense, touchdowns three points for the offense. Third downs, if it’s third and short, and the offense converts, they get one. If the defense stops them, the defense gets two, because it’s tougher on short yards. Third and medium is one-and-one. Third and long, the offense converts, they’d get two, and the defense would get one if they hold them on third and long.”
How did you get it from the Seahawks?
“We knew about it, and (OC Chris Kapilovic) was out there at one point of visiting and knew one of the coaches on the staff and he gave it to him. You just talk to people and look for things, so we wanted to—We’ve always had competition every practice, but we wanted to figure out a way so that our guys could understand if they were having success. So we started talking to different programs, so we knew the Seahawks had one and called out there and Kap got it.”
What are your expectations for the injured defensive players passing knowledge to younger guys?
“First of all, we stay within what the NCAA asks you to do, but our guys, also, do a lot of stuff on their own. This is their passion, so they want to master their craft. They spend time on it. Our older guys do teach the younger guys. Just because spring’s over, doesn’t mean the younger guys—You’ll see them in the film room tomorrow watching. They’ll be watching cut-ups, they’ll be watching install tapes. They’re studying the game so that they can be better. As we go into the summer, even though they’re working with their strength coaches all summer, conditioning and all that, they’ll still run practices a couple of days a week. They’ll run a practice, over on the practice field, without any coaches there as if there were coaches there. It’s the same way we run a practice, so they’ll just run a practice. The seniors do it, and they do a great job with it.”