"Obviously it's a very exciting time - starting the 2007 season. Five or six months ago this seemed like a million years into the future ... The reality of it is that today is the first official day of the season ... This is a great opportunity for us to find out as a coaching staff what this football team is really going to be about. We have 29 practice opportunities during the month of August in preparation for Sept. 1. With the NCAA's way of orchestrating training camps, the first five days you can only go once a day, so the way we've structured our training camp is that the morning is a significant amount of installation, meeting time, video instruction. Then we'll have a practice in the afternoon and in the night time continued evaluation and instruction.
"We've got some goals for these first five days. We've kind of divided our football team almost in half. There are 85 scholarship plays and 19-20 walk-on players and we've divided them in half so we can take the first 45-50 minutes of the practice in the afternoon and exclusively devote it to freshmen and redshirt freshman, so that they can get some of that individualized attention - more learning and more reps. The tempo won't be quite as fast as the spring from the standpoint of it's a limited amount of players. ... Then the varsity players will come out, do a stretch and flex and then we'll go straight from that as a combined team into special teams. The freshmen and redshirt freshmen will then stay and be active participants of the combined team all together. That way they can stay with their position groups and watch the experienced veteran players and the tempo will be considerably faster.
"That'll continue the first five days - first two days in shorts, second two days in helmets and shoulder pads and the fifth practice we're allowed to go into full pads. After that we won't use that practice anymore. We feel those five practices will show the freshmen the routine and how to practice, and also it's a five-day evaluation for us to look at these freshmen and do any last-minute tinkering with moving a player [to another position.] A common [question] has been 'What's Greg Little going to play?' Well, obviously we think he'll play wide receiver and has a great future there, but we'll go through these first five days and if he can move up the depth chart somewhere else ... and I'm just using Greg as an example. That could apply to any of the freshmen players - it could apply to Charles Brown, Brian Gupton and a whole bunch of guys. Those first five days hopefully we'll have solidified what the freshmen roles are going to be ...
"The things that during training camp are really vital for us is not only do we need to identify the starters, but we need to a great job of developing depth. I want to play a lot of guys - I think it's important to the program. I told our team in our welcoming team meeting last night that it's not about finding the best 22 players because it's going to take a lot more than 22 guys to win football games. Roles on special teams, nickel, I'm a big believer that we play somewhere between 7-8-9-10 defensive linemen in every game. That's how you grow depth. The same can be said about the offensive line. Injuries are a possibility in football and if in Week 3 or 4 someone gets injured and the guy going in it's the first time he's played in a football game, everybody's nervous. I've told our offensive line, 'The second offensive line: you're going to play in the first half of the first game, so prepare these next 29 days to go in there.' ...
"Obviously we need to find who is going to be our punter. We feel good about Connor [Barth], but there's going to be some competition at the punter. I told the players last night 'These first 4-5 days are not about finding out who the starters are and don't worry about the depth chart. When you get your opportunity to take your practice reps, show us great effort, great execution. Then we'll start moving guys into the depth chart.'
"It's critical for our team to establish who the starting quarterback will be. It's a wide-open competition and they're eager to compete, but that will manifest itself. We're going to have a major scrimmage by August 11 and by that time we hope to have, if not prior to that, who is going to be our starting quarterback and who will be the backup so they can start to get the lion's share of the preparation.
"Another thing that's a positive is to get some of the guys that were injured in the spring back. Getting Kyndraus Guy back, I'm anxious and eager to find out [what he can do]. He's got some playing experience, he can provide some leadership. Getting Jordan Hemby back - he's had an awesome summer and is really running and cutting well. Getting Ben Lemming back - what's going to be his role? He has played in games on the line, but is he going to be a center, tackle or guard? The objective during training camp is to identify the five best offensive linemen and form a cohesive group to be our starting line. Johnny White, who had surgery, he's back and running and ready to go. And Kennedy Tinsley at linebacker and special teams, we need him to be a player for us.
"It's exciting, we're looking forward to it. The coaches and players are roaring and ready to go - I hope they are [the same way] 10 days from now after they get through the two-a-days. Should be a great training camp."
On the program's outlook -
"We're in the process of building a football program. We're not going to be as good in 2007 as we'll be in '08, '09 and '10. But every day we have a chance to make a huge difference in this football program and I'm excited to be a part of it."
On the quarterback decision -
"We're going to identify the two guys and they're going to take 100 percent of the reps. The third guy and the fourth guys will have to learn through film, through watching and through repetitions on the scout team. You can't coach the third and fourth team guys because the NCAA won't allow us to practice that long ... They're just going to go out and practice. [Paulus] will take the lion's share of the snaps during the first half of the practice - he may in fact do some when we blend the two teams together. But once we get out in Day 5, then we'll start figuring out where he is in the picking order -- is he 3, 4, 2, 1? Where is he? ... It's all about growth and development of these quarterbacks. How comfortable they feel in the scheme, how quickly they can adapt to all we're going to ask them to do and how efficient they are. It won't be the number of great plays they make, it's the number of poor plays they don't make. From center-quarterback exchange, throwing into coverages, misreading coverages - the quarterback position needs to be efficient."
On deciding what freshmen will redshirt -
"We won't make any decisions on redshirts until honestly after the first or second game of the season."
On freshmen adapting to college -
"There will be an adjustment period for some of these guys. Every freshman -- starry-eyed, big-eyed -- they think they can immediately walk into the huddle, walk onto the field and they're going to instantly take over. After 32 years of coaching, I can tell you there is a transition period and it's unfair for fans to look at rookies and expect them to knock your socks off. Russell Maryland was the first player chosen in the Draft and I can tell you his first day of practice was a struggle. They'll adjust, our coaching staff will help them adjust and they'll be fine in a short amount of time."
On measuring success in 2007 -
"One thing I've told our players is 'Nobody will define what success is except us.' We know what we're capable of doing. We're going to keep everything realistic and I think fans, alumni and the media they deal in potential and expectations. The reality is that the players and coaches deal in the real world. We watch the film, we know what players are capable of. If our players play to the best of their ability, that's going to be enough."