"I think, probably like every college coach in America, we're all ready to play a game. We've had as good of a training camp as you can potentially have, with a significant interest on trying to develop some young kids and develop some depth in some areas. There are a lot of areas where we're still very young and inexperienced, but we're at that stage that we need to play a game against competition to see how some of these young players are going to play and try to give them an opportunity to answer some questions for us as to whether or not they're really truly ready to play college football…
"Kevin Higgins, who is the head football coach at The Citadel, is a very, very good head football coach. He had just a great record at Lehigh. He had some truly outstanding performances as a position coach in the NFL, and you can see evidence of all of the things that he's learned at both of those places in his football team."
On the difference in playing a FCS opponent to start the year versus playing a team like LSU next year in Atlanta:
"I think a lot of it certainly depends on the nature of your program and where it's at. I know at Miami, in the very first game in 1995, we opened the season on the road at UCLA… Every season is a little bit different. The juggling of the schedule is something that is very, very difficult and very complicated for us. In an attempt to have seven home games every year and with the ACC schedule the way it is, sometimes it's difficult.
"When you're playing a team – Ohio State or LSU or something like that – obviously it puts an enormous premium on the margin for error. Certainly, the first game of the season is extraordinarily difficult. But I think as a coach, you'd be unbelievably remiss if you took anything for granted. Appalachian State went to Michigan and beat them on the road, and we had some challenges last year against McNeese State. The biggest emphasis that I know I try to put with our players is that we want to play as well as we can in the opening game, regardless of who the opponent is."
With you having a lot of guys back next year, would you be more confident playing LSU then as opposed to this year?
"As attractive as it is to kind of talk about next year, we really haven't put a lot of focus on it. We feel very fortunate to have been extended the opportunity to play in that game, but there's an awful lot of water under the bridge between now and next September. So we'll deal with that next year."
How much has Shaun Draughn improved since last season?
"We expect Shaun to be improved over last season. It was baptism under fire last year, making the transition and not having gone through spring practice and a summer where you were actually working out at the position that you would inevitably play. I think that Shaun increasingly got better as the season went along.
"He clearly today has a better grasp and understanding of the entire offense and certainly as far as the protections are concerned, which is always a big concern when you're the running back. It's one thing to hand somebody the ball and let God-given athletic ability take over, but there's a certain element of things as far as protections for the quarterback, when to release, when to get out on routes and I think he's made some real strides in that particular area."
Is Draughn showing more natural instincts running the ball now?
"Yes, I think he's a lot more comfortable now. I think he's started to understand the things that we're asking him to do and being a little more patient. One of the [tendencies] for any young running back, especially for someone that has not played on the collegiate level, is to rush things.
"Sometimes you're in such a rush to get to the intended hole that sometimes you don't allow things to develop. You don't let blocks occur and set up, especially if you're playing behind linemen and fullbacks that are pulling in front of you. Sometimes patience is something that's very difficult for a young kid to learn, but he's made some strides in that area."