Coach, the media pays a lot of attention to what you wear to practice. Are you trying to lose weight or are you making a fashion statement?"I try to be a creature of habit; that's what I wear all the time regardless of what the weather conditions are. Honestly, I don't even think about it, to tell the truth. I'm doing pretty good with my weight actually."
When will you have the depth chart solidified?"Not so much solidifying the depth chart but just knowing the number of guys; because we have more guys than we thought at the beginning. We're happy with some guys at different places; and we have good depth. It's really good competition and that's been encouraging. That's probably the biggest thing when the guys who are ‘not the starters' can go out and make the calls and make the same adjustments and make the same plays and there is not really a drop-off. That's when you're getting something done."
How are you finding the personnel fitting into the schemes that you want?"As a coach, you never want to ask your players to do something they can't do. So we look at the calls we have, and if there is something a guy is struggling with or if there's a bunch of guys struggling with them, then we will take it out. I think for the most part, the guys have adjusted pretty well. We're really excited with what they have done and what they are doing. I think they're anxious; so we'll see."
What determines a player's position on the depth chart?"We're getting to that point; it's a never-ending process. Because what you do is just keep working, working, and working and you put guys in, in situations where they have to make adjustments and where they have to make plays. When they show that they can do that, they gain our trust. When they don't do that, we know we still have to work on that area with that player."
Where are you with the installation of the defense?"We are pretty comfortable where we are. We always have things we can fall back on or things that we can go to; things that we can call upon. There may be a variation here; a variation there; but for the most part, the guys can go out and function right now without doing any game planning at all. That's been good too."
(This question was unclear. It pertains to reaction by the defensive backs.)"In any system, cover two is cover two; three is three; and four is four. And you can have as many variations and adjustments as you want. We choose to keep that limited so our guys can line up and play. It kind of puts it on them to say, okay, you are in this situation. Really, regardless what the cover is, if I'm deep and the receiver is deep; or if I'm a lineman and I have an offensive lineman on me and there is a running back coming, there are things that have to be done. And that's what you have to do. If you are a linebacker and you have a fullback leading on you, you have to take on the block and shed it. So regardless of what the coverage is; we try to get guys to play fundamental techniques. This is where your help is; play to your help; play to your coverage strength. If there is a weakness to the coverage, we just try to eliminate the gain."
Have the guys bought into the system and the variations of the base?"I think that's fair to say because we did some things in the spring and we have elaborated, and now in the fall, we have done more. When the guys get comfortable or get bored or there is more that can be done, we will do that. We'll know pretty soon what we need because we will have a good test."
For a first-year coordinator like yourself, how important is it to have a guy like Tommy Zbikowski?"He's like a security blanket, so to speak, because he's going to play a certain way and he's demanding of the guys that play around him and with him. He leads by example. Those are little things that I don't have to worry about; like the DB's running to the ball; guys playing tough; guys playing physical and making calls. I can put my energy and focus in other places."
Do you ask the veterans questions about situations to help fill in the gaps?"You always want to know the unknowns. You would like to know the heartbeat or the mindset of the guys; whatever that is. Whether it is good or bad, you would just like to know. The more dialogue or communication you have with those guys, whether you ask them directly or not, you can find it out. In that regard, that's good."
What is Toryan Smith done to establish himself?"He's a guy that demonstrated he can handle calls and that he likes to play and he's physical and he'll make plays in coverage. Whether you're out there as the first player, it doesn't matter when you play, when you're called upon, you make plays. He is a physical guy, and I'm going back and rate these players. He plays the game like I envision it being played."
How do you rate these guys?"You say, ‘Did he do it here (mentally); did he do it here (visually); did he do it here (with heart)?' Then you know if you have a guy that will do it 10 out of 10 times, he's going to go in there and he's going to play. You keep a log in your mind, so to speak."
Could you tell us how the linebackers and the defense as a whole are progressing?"We've been pleased with the progress of the group; they have done a lot of things we have asked them to do pretty well; and there are other things that we still need work on. Every single day, they are getting better. We just keep going out working on our techniques and doing the same thing every day so that we get better. So when we get into those situations, it becomes second nature."
When will you decide on some of these guys?"When we come out there September 1 and the ball goes in the air and guys going after it."