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"Obviously it's very exciting for our football program - we're very excited to get the 2008 season underway. There's an awful lot of buzz and excitement about the program. I think our football program has done a good job of continuing to build momentum from the recruiting class, through spring practice... And one thing I'm really proud of is the way our football team prepared for the 2008 season. The long, grueling hours of timeless effort -- of sweat -- that goes in before the start of the season is what people don't get to see. It's easy to show up on Saturdays ... it's the guys that pay the price during April, May, June, July that run in 95-degree heat and the only person driving them is themselves and their teammates. They've done a great job from a physical standpoint of preparing for this season."
"We think that we've got a very productive 29 practice opportunities scripted. We talked about all throughout last spring and over the summertime what needs to get accomplished in these 29 practice opportunities – what's going to make us be the best football team that we can be on opening day? Not the best football team that we can be in Week 2 or Week 4 or Week 8 or Week 12, but what's the best way that's going to get us ready for that game.
"We've talked about the heat, we've talked about the conditioning, we've talked about the reps and how many do the starters and the incoming freshmen need. And I think the coaching staff has done a great job of talking about how we can get through the first five days of one-a-days and then when we get into two-a-days, how to balance things to make sure that we don't take any backward steps.
"We've got some goals that we've set up, some objectives for training camp, and when we spoke to the team last night, we got to talk about what we want to accomplish in these 29 practices. The things that we've tried to focus on with our players is that every single day is an unbelievable opportunity for us as a team and they as individuals to get better. If we walk off that practice field at the end of every practice and a kid can look himself in a mirror, and he can say, ‘I got better. I learned something that I didn't know. I'm better fundamentally and technique-wise than I was before the practice started,' then those practice opportunities won't be wasted.
"Another thing that we found out is that we've got to build depth on this football team. It's an inevitability that there's going to be somebody that's going to go down and we pray and we hope that it's maybe for a half, maybe a game or maybe even two or three games and he's going to get back, but we can't have situations where there's an enormous drop off from a recognition, a perfection, a technique, or an understanding of schemes standpoint. We've got to build depth, and that's what these 29 practices are going to represent."
"I'll talk about two players that are going to be on the watch list early on, and these guys are tributes to our medical staff – Scott Trulock and our team doctors and surgeons. With Linwan Euwell and Kevin Bryant, they are so much further ahead [than expected]. Kevin had hand surgery last spring and missed the spring practice and Linwan got injured near the end of the fall practices, and they have both made remarkable recoveries.
"But we're going to keep them on the watch list. They're going to practice, they're going to go out and we may limit some of the reps and some of the drills that they're going to do, because we're going to bring them along confidently and build their confidence up to where they're full go and we'll turn them loose."
On Kevin Reddick and Joe Townsend:
"Kevin Reddick didn't report and [Joe] Townsend didn't report. Kevin right now is going through a clearinghouse situation that we hope to get resolved sometime in the very immediate future, and Townsend is going through a situation where junior colleges in the California system are on a different semester – they're on a trimester – and his classes have not yet ended. We expect [Townsend] to be here sometime in the next couple of weeks, and certainly before the start of school."
On learning together last season:
"A sense of shared experiences is unbelievably invaluable. A year ago, the stories that we could relate to our players had to do with things that had happened with us at other programs. It happened to us in Dallas, it happened to us in Miami, it happened with [John] Shoop at Chicago and everybody had their little stories, but it didn't mean anything really to the players.
"They were nice stories, and the players were like, ‘Oh yeah, Coach, that was kind of cool,' but when you start talking about the importance of red zone offense and you start saying that this is why we have to be better in the red zone so that when you get down there as we did against Georgia Tech, that you don't just settle for three [points] and kick field goals. We've got to turn those into touchdowns… Now we've got shared experiences where they can say, ‘Now we get it. I know what you're talking about now.' And that's an unbelievable step for a program when you can draw on real things that hit them in the heart."