Would you explain about the freshmen and where some of them are on the two and three-deep depth chart?"Like at the two end positions, I have Mo (Morrice Richardson) and Justin Brown or Kapron Lewis-Moore. On the other side, I know I have John Ryan and Kerry Neal or (Darius) Fleming. I know at center I have (Thomas) Bemenderfer or (Braxton) Cave. I think those were the ‘ors' that were affected. The rest of them were in the depth chart."
How do you determine the guys that are not front-line or ‘or' guys and their place on the depth chart?"When you are bringing in the guys here, you tell every one of them in recruiting that we're going to give them all an opportunity to compete walking in the door. Now, some of them are involved in the depth chart but are not listed on that list because some of them may be involved in being a one or two on special teams. There are more guys that could pop up from that group. I don't think it will be limited to that number of guys that end up getting involved in the mix. The special teams, in reality, are often the easiest way for these guys to get on the field."
Could you explain the move tight-end concept?"It all depends upon systems. The move tight-end - some call them H's, we call them an F. But all it is, instead of being like Asaph (Schwapp) who's in the backfield, he is a guy who plays closer to the line of scrimmage and he's not the primary tight-end. When a defense goes up there and you have multiple tight-ends on the field, what they'll do is identify one guy to line up their front. They will identify one guy as this is the guy who dictates how we are lining up the front. In our case, the guy that they will dictate is Rudolph, unless Rudolph isn't in there. Then if it's Yeatman or Schmidt in there, they would dictate that it is Yeatman because they will know by pure depth that Rudolph and Yeatman are more than natural Y's."
How many tight-ends can you get through the season with and does Joseph Fauria have to play?"No, he doesn't have to play, knock-on-wood. You could have more things come into play. You don't go into this with three tight-ends without having what you are going to do - I mean you have a contingency plan and we will practice that this week and we will practice that next week. We are not going to get caught short. So that's one thing that will not happen."
What is it about Kyle Rudolph that has stood out?"He runs faster down the field than the rest of them. Will Yeatman is a very good tight-end; he's a big body; he's 265 pounds; he's a solid blocker; he's got soft hands. Kyle runs vertically down the field pretty fast."
Is Kyle a better blocker than you anticipated at this stage?"We were pleasantly surprised. At hoop season he was 225, up from 215, and now he's over 250 with a lot of room to grow. He obviously spent a lot of time in the weight room working his butt off to get himself some bulk and some size. He's been a better than adequate guy at the point of attack which is probably a little bit more than I was expecting walking in the door."
You have Mo Richardson/Justin Brown and John Ryan/Kerry Neal listed, will they be used as packages?"What has happened in the past, we had one deep and really didn't get into playing anyone after that. So I could see those guys being interchangeable - okay, you're in, you're in, you're in - because we intend to be moving pretty good on defense and the one thing we haven't done is really done a great job of having the second-tier guys get significant reps and perform at a high rate to keep the first-line guys ready to go. So I think at both those positions we feel comfortable with either one of those ends, at either position, playing and not worrying about who's out there."
(Could not hear this question.)"On one side we are, but on the other side we are about the same. John's a little bit bigger than Kerry and Justin's a little bit bigger than Mo. But with what they are doing, they both play similar in how they are playing."
Is Mo Richardson healthy?"He's been banged up. He had a little foot sprain and missed a few days but I don't anticipate Mo being any problem as it goes into the game. There are a couple guys who are on the cusp of being fully healthy. As you know, it has been a pretty physical camp so this is the week, if there are guys on the cusp of being fully healthy, I want to make sure I get them fully healthy because you can't be worrying about that next week."
What did you see from Mike Turkovich that won him the left tackle job?"He was another guy that had originally been a tackle, then played guard, then was in at tackle. Going into camp honestly I wasn't so positive that he was going to win the job, and he won it convincingly."
What did he do that stood out?"He did everything well. He showed that he could pass-block. He showed that he could block at the point of attack. He showed that he wasn't a liability when we put him on an island; that we didn't have to chip help every time that he was over there and that's a concern with a left tackle and the blind side of the quarterback. Hey, you can chip help on the blind side of the quarterback all day, but if you can get where the tackle can play in the game and be able to handle the position, it lets you get more guys out on the pattern which is always advantageous."
Do you have any depth beyond the first six guys at guard/tackle?"First of all, I think Paul Duncan can play guard or tackle. Now I know he's listed at left guard and Matt Romine has come on pretty nicely as a pass-blocking tackle over there, which is what he came here as. He's been banged up since he's been here, then he was down to 270. Now he's back into the 290's again. We have been very happy with Trevor Robinson. We're not going to be afraid to put him in a game. That (Thomas) Bemenderfer and (Braxston) Cave battle is still going on. I think right now, if you flipped a coin, you would put Bemer in first through experience alone. That's a battle that's going to continue to be ongoing. Then Taylor Dever over at right tackle is a prospect that we have been high on all along. The question then comes, Lou, if something would happen to Sam (Young), would I just take Paul (Duncan) and put him in there at right tackle. At this point right now, I don't know yet. If it was at the point where you were putting the second line in, you would just put that second line in the way it is drawn on your chart. You would just go ahead and put them in there all together."
With Golden, is it just a matter of nuances and intermediate route-running?"He's still progressing. He's gotten so much better than where he was. I talked to him today about the thing I want him to work on this week as he continues his progression. Coming in and out of his routes, there have been a number of times, as you have watched in the past, where he's running and all of a sudden he turns back to look for the ball; he starts to slow down. That's our point of emphasis with him this week. It's not so much to running the 15 yards to get where he is turning around; it's when you get to that spot and start looking for the ball going full speed so the quarterback will know where you are going to be. Golden has great ball-skills and great speed and he's tough. Once you get him to do that point right there, you're going to have a receiver who can do just about everything, but we are still a work in progress."
With the noticeable size and strength of the offensive line this year, how has that size advantage worked in training camp so far?"Not to be a hypocrite, but every since I've been here I've wanted to be able to pound the football and we haven't yet. So we are going to find out because we are going to pound it and the only way to find out is getting the big boys up front to come off the ball and hand it off to those backs ‘cause I like all of them. I like all those backs. And you have to keep fresh legs out there at back and you have to keep pounding it. That will help everything get better. It will help the play-action pass. It will get guys open in intermediate routes. And it will help pass-protection because people are going to have to worry about stopping the run first."
Could you talk about Bemenderfer coming in as a walk-on and earning a scholarship?"It's to the point now where I don't look at him as a walk-on. Forget the fact that he was a scholarship player at Northwestern. He has just been a nice solid player for us where, if we had to put him in the game, I would not be concerned that the game would fall apart. I think we are finally at that stage where if somebody goes out, you put the next guy in and you don't feel like, ‘Oh God, what's going to happen now?' I think we are finally at that stage."
How do you tell the guys about the depth chart?"What I did, I told them there was a depth chart coming out today and depth charts are obviously based off their performances to this point right now. You have to come out with a depth chart sooner or later and so today was the first day for San Diego State. So I figured rather than wait for Wednesday or Thursday, just to hold you guys off, that's where we are. All the coordinators went over the personnel packages to let people know what they are doing and the position coaches went over with the guys what their roles are too. There was no one today who weren't told - first generically from me and then more specific by the coordinators and then more specific by the position coaches - where we are heading right now."
You say you like all the running-backs. How do you select their position on the depth chart?"I think Armando (Allen) is different from the other two guys. You could take Armando on one side and you could take Robert (Hughes) and James (Aldridge) on the other side. If I was playing a game today, today I would pick Armando. Yesterday I might have picked Robert. I know one thing, all three of them are going to play and they all know it. And I think one of the reasons that it has helped from being divisive, Brian, is the fact that they all know because we have interchanged them so much but still let them get into a flow in practice. They could see how this could work."
Will you use two of them in the backfield at the same time?"We have a few plays where we'll do that. They have their different strengths and weaknesses."
How was the competition for the long-snapper and how did it work out for the short-snapper?"That's because Braxston (Cave) looked best on field goals and extra points and Kevin Brooks looked best on punts. The guy who looks like he has the promise to be the best of all of them is Darius Fleming as a long-snapper. But he's got a lot of things on his mind right here between pass-rushing and playing on special teams and a lot of other things. He has a lot of promise. But right now, we go by what we see and right now Kevin has been the most dependable long-snapper and Braxton has been the most dependable short-snapper."
Does Cave's size enter into it as a short-snapper?"You'd rather have a bigger body in that case right there because all they try to do is run you over into the kickers. So you'd rather not have a light guy for field goals and extra points if you could avoid it."
Would Harrison Smith's role change if there was an injury at safety?"Yes, that could happen. Here is a key point for Harrison; he's still not wearing knee braces. That's always a key point. When you see us in shoulder pads, Harrison has this mental thing (laughing). If I make him wear knee braces, he thinks I'm trying to make him into a slug-it-out linebacker. So as long as he's a safety playing down there, he's happy. He's a safety playing in the Sam position. It would have to be a chain of events, but if something happened to David Bruton, I could see him playing there."
Do you feel you have four corners that could play?"I think we have at least four that could play, realizing that there are different levels of experience. I'm going to mention down-the-road guys: Leonard Gordon has been very dependable for us. He has showed up more on special teams than anything else in camp. Jamoris Slaughter is another guy that has a ton of ability who was a little banged up early in camp. He was coming off a leg injury but he's really closing ground and gaining our confidence. But right now, the four guys we have are clearly the four guys we have."
With some of the other teams playing this Saturday, will you get a chance to scout?"Well, we can't go to the games. I asked about that by the way. No one from the athletic department can go because that was the next thing; I was going to farm off a couple of guys and send a couple in a couple of different directions. But we can't do that. What we will do is use Sunday, come in early and knock out that tape on that game. Cal Poly's offense is almost a wishbone-ish offense but what it will do - offense, defense, and special teams - give you an opportunity to get their personnel up to date and who they are exactly playing in the San Diego State game."
Saturday night will you get to watch any college football?"Whatever my wife tells me to do."