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As we near the latter stages of spring practice, how do you feel things have gone thus far?
"I think it's been a huge positive. We've made some strides. The effort level and the energy level has been very, very good. I think the guys have adjusted to the new coaches – that part has been very positive. Some things have been revealing. We're starting to find a few guys in the offensive line that we're starting to develop some confidence in.
"I think Carl Gaskins has done a nice job. I think that Kevin Bryant is a much, much better football player than at any time since he's been here. Moving Greg Elleby to the offensive line I think has helped develop a little bit of depth. We're starting to develop a little bit of depth at linebacker. We're still unsettled [at certain spots]. We've got some good position competition between Jordan Hemby and Charles Brown at the left corner position. But for the most part, I think it's going pretty well."
Do you think that you are finally starting to get good competition at positions across the board?
"Yes, I actually do. One of the things that makes this spring so much different is that in previous springs, we've had to almost wait until August to find out who can maybe challenge to be a backup player, who might challenge to push somebody. I think at least now we've got most of the competition – enough of it – here going through spring practice."
On the wide receiver position:
"Certainly, we are still a long ways away from being good enough at the wide receiver to even remotely make the assumption that we've replaced the three guys [that were starters]. And we probably won't. It's conceivable that by the first game of the season, we may not be where we need to be. It's going to be a work in progress throughout the season. I think all of these guys have got the athletic ability and the talent to be able to eventually do it, but there's no way to give them the experience necessary until they just go out and have to play. But I'm encouraged by how hard they're working. In last Saturday's scrimmage, there were some really good catches made."
What improvement would you like to see from Shaun Draughn this offseason?
"Better in pass protection, better in route running and catching the ball. Being consistent. I think he established himself as having good vision and as a running back, he sees the hole. He's gotten a little bit stronger. He's gotten a little bit quicker. But I think those are the things that will make a little bit more of a complete back."
What about the same question for the three freshmen defensive ends (Quinton Coples, Michael McAdoo, Robert Quinn) from last season?
"The real buzzword with our defensive line right now, all of them, but especially those three guys is consistency. Last year, they were good athletes. They were totally green. Everything that they saw, every blocking scheme was totally new to them, but now, it's about learning to play things consistent every single down. And I think that we're starting to get that from all three of them."
How much will Kevin Reddick's absence set him back for the season?
"At least he has the benefit of being able to go to all of the meetings and watching practices to learn. From a physical standpoint, it will put him in the same category with the incoming freshmen. Honestly, he missed some significant opportunities to go out here and feel really comfortable breaking huddles and playing and learning. But he'll catch back up."
How much of the spring has Kevin Bryant been able to practice?
"Every bit of it. He's done everything full speed live. I think that the best thing that has happened to Kevin is that we've kind of stopped experimenting with him. We started him off at tackle, [then] we tried him at guard last year because we were unsettled and we didn't have a lot of depth at guard, and then he broke his hand so he wasn't able to do a whole lot.
"But we've moved him back to the right offensive tackle position and I think that's his home. I think that's where, for the long term, that's going to be the best position for him. He's a big, physical, intimidating guy. He's really working hard on his sets and getting up. Once he gets his paws on somebody, he is massive. He is hard to run over and run around. He's a big man."
What are some of the things that you really want to see out of your guys in the spring game?
"I think what you would like to see is their ability to go out and fix breakdowns without having to talk to any coaches. That's really truly the hallmark of your football team is when your quarterback can step in the huddle and he can fix a protection. Maybe they didn't get to the quarterback, but there was a little bit of leakage and he can talk to guys or he can talk to receivers.
"The same thing with the defense. If they pop a run or something, those guys, and they don't have to wait until the possession or the drive is over with, that they can fix it. And we're looking at all of the positions where it's critical for guys to step up. The receivers, we're looking at Quan Sturdivant, who is now the new middle linebacker, how well does he take control of the huddle. The battle at corner. The punter – we're looking at Grant Schallock and how well he's doing. We've got some areas that we're very interested in how they scrimmage."
How is Mike Paulus faring this spring?
"I will say this – this is his best spring practice, infinitely better than last spring. I think that he has pushed himself over the last three months to try to improve. His mechanics are better. His arm speed is better. He's really tried to tighten up his throwing motion to get the ball out of his hands. We're trying to put him in some situations where he's going with the ones at times, and we'll continue to do that."