"I think that our preseason training camp has been pretty good. We obviously started out with some goals and objectives that we wanted to try to accomplish, and at least through training camp, we think that we've made progress. We had to replace some pretty talented players from last year's football team – Kentwan Balmer, Hilee Taylor and certainly most notably Connor Barth. So we had some challenges during training camp. We think that we've got a better idea and appreciation as to who the players are that are going to replace those guys that we lost.
"Losing [Balmer and Taylor] along with Durell Mapp, and that's three significant players on defense. One of the other major goals of training camp was to try to build more depth in this football program. We were extraordinarily thin last year and very, very young and inexperienced. Unfortunately, in the second year, we're probably still going to be in a similar situation where we're still a pretty young football team and the depth that we're trying create is still going to be with young and inexperienced players.
"Of the true scholarship freshmen that we signed this past year, probably maybe half of those may actually play in this game on Saturday. We signed a junior college transfer in Melvin Williams to try to help in the secondary, so a lot of the newcomers are going to get a chance to play for the first time. We'll find out where we are this Saturday."
Are you surprised at how quickly this thing has turned around, from winning three games two years ago to now being picked second in the Coastal Division?
"Obviously, I think a lot of the speculation is extraordinarily premature. We haven't won a game this season. There is optimism about the program, and I think that speaks to the direction of the program. I think that there's a sense that we've had two relatively successful recruiting classes, but all that does is somewhat bring an infusion of younger players into your program and gives you a chance in the future.
"As I said last year, there are a lot of steps in building in this program and it's not going to be a quick fix. It's not going to be a one-year deal or a two-year thing. And I think that just because of the way the team played last year, the thing that made us feel good, is that the kids competed on Saturdays even when we were outmanned and outmatched and didn't have the depth. The players played hard, and I think that as you build a program, certainly how your players compete is big part of the future success.
"But there's still going to be growing pains this year. There's no immediate quick fix. We're going to take some lumps and we're going to learn some lessons, and hopefully, if we can avoid some of the things that happened last year, most notably a lot of the injuries, if we can do that, it gives you a chance to get better and build some continuity as the season goes along and hopefully your kids will continue to improve the way they play."
What's the status of Dwight Jones?
"He came in injured. He had gone to Valdosta and had suffered a pretty significant deep quad contusion and after our trainers and doctors looked at him and they basically shut him down for seven or eight days where all he did was get treatment and rehab, so he could get the swelling out of there and get the discoloration out so that he could actually start working out. Last week was probably the first time – I think it was last Wednesday or Thursday – that he actually returned to practice, where he was full-go and could actually participate in all of the drills. So he's making progress and you can tell that he's got skills and he's got talent.
"He's obviously like a lot of the other freshmen in that his head is spinning trying to learn all of the offense and all of the other things that these kids have been doing for the better part of 18 months. But we're glad to have him in the program. We think he's got a bright, talented future. On whether he plays this weekend – it's probably unlikely that he'll be ready, not only from a physical standpoint, but also from a mental standpoint, to play in this very first game."