What attributes did you see in Coach Haywood to turn over the play-calling to him?"We've been together now for three years. Calling a game on Saturday is just a culmination of work that really starts on the previous Sunday. I think that anything that I interject into game plans really has taken place long before game day. As long as you are confident in the calls that you have come up with during the week, which I believe Michael is perfectly capable of handling that along with the offensive staff. We have been together for a while and, if they have a question during the week, they will come to me. I will see something in practice and I will say, ‘Why would we do that? Why would we do this?' but at the end of the day when you have relationships, when you have been together for a while, it's really not that big a turnover and I think Michael thinks a lot like I do. It's never going to be exactly the same, that's why I'll have to let him do it; not sit there and, ‘Do this, do this, do this, do this,' you've got to let him do it. Because once you have rubber-stamped what is on the game play, then whatever he calls, he calls."
When Haywood was asked about calling his first game, he sort of shrugged. Is having this calm demeanor important as a play-caller?"I think that is a very good attribute. When you call a play, unlike most people who watch the game, when you call a play before they have even broke the huddle, you have already gone through the scenarios in your head of what could happen on this play-call. It's first and ten, it's a run. What's the worst that's going to happen? You're going to gain two yards and it's going to be second and eight. So, really, what you are doing in your anticipation; next play call based off of the call that you have given to them, it hasn't even come out of the huddle yet. I think any good play-caller is always one play ahead. You are never on the play you called. You're going to watch that one. No sense broadcasting it; you've already given that one. I think it is important that you be ready for the next one."
You have to practice that, right?"We've done that plenty. We've done that plenty, and I've gotten him on the 40-second clock very early in camp. We got on the 40-second clock and, really, if you do your due diligence, the 40-second clock gives you a lot more time as a play-caller; not a lot less time. Are you waiting for a 25-second clock to go ahead and give a play-call in? With a 40-second clock, a lot of times, you have given the play-call before it even gets to 25 seconds. Sometimes it will be later, but more often than not, personnel will already be sent in and the play will be sent in even before it gets to 25."
When you were in the Middle-East, did you talk to Mark Richt?"No, I did not talk to Mark Richt about it."
Will your game-week schedule be any different than in past years?"For me personally, it's going to be different; not for everybody else."
Will the players do the same?"Well, no, it's definitely going to be different this year than it was in the past. In the past, Monday has been their day off. This year, Sunday is going to be their day off. So that's a big difference. They already have the whole layout, but you can only get four hours to work in a day. We have kind of changed the way how we do things on the front-end of the week."
What do you think the advantages of this change are?"Letting them sleep, because if you think about it, if Monday is the day off, you still have to go to class. So I think letting them sleep in and go to Mass or go to Services on Sunday - Sundays right now, I really felt, wasn't a day off. There really wasn't a day off in their schedule because on Sundays we would bring them in, in the afternoon, and on Mondays, it was their day off but they were getting up early to go to class. So when do they ever get a chance to sleep in or have so-called quality of life like a normal student would have? So now they have Sunday."
Did the players bring this suggestion to you?"No, I went and researched a bunch of schools in the country to see how they do it. A bunch of them are doing it that way so I asked some people to try and find out why they do it that way, and it was all related to rest."
Will practices be a little less physical this week and next week in hopes of getting everybody healthy?"We've decided this year to keep in at least one full-speed team offense against defense every day until Thursday. So we can keep practicing the speed of the game so we don't fall into that pitfall of when you have show teams having a false sense of security because you know what they are doing schematically. But when you get to game day, it's a lot different speed than when you are practicing at."
Do you wish you were playing this weekend or do you like having this week off?"I think everyone's antsy. I think everyone would rather be playing now but what would happen is, if we were playing this week, we would have started training camp earlier. How many days you can practice is all dictated by the NCAA based on when your first game is, so it would still be the same time-frame right here. I think the people who benefit most, not having a game this week, is the freshmen because as you know, this is the first week of school. As I've told you several times, this is the toughest couple of weeks for any of these kids coming in the first couple of weeks when you now have 20 hours of football and a full day in school."
With the kids watching football games tonight and Saturday, do you think that will make them want to get out there even more?"Let's hope that be the case. I think that will be a good thing. My kid has already informed me that college football is on tonight. He said college football is on so he's pretty fired up that college football season was starting."
How many freshmen are on the special teams and how many front-line guys have you been able to take off because of the freshman progress?"Most of those guys are down to two at most. We have been able to get to that. You prefer, for example, on the cover teams, you like to keep your defensive players as much as you can involved in those cover teams. Not that we don't have defensive players out there on the return teams as well. The front-line guys, we have been able to pull back on a lot of those guys because there are a lot of younger guys - and they are not all freshmen but a lot of the sophomores and younger guys - have been able to take reps off and get in the mix where we can put them out there and have some confidence in doing it."
Can you name a couple of those freshmen?"There's a bunch of them that might show up. We're still a few days away from getting to that point right there. What we are doing is waiting to see their personnel. We get that game on Sunday. Before you etch that down in stone, you have to make sure you know what they have before you are sure exactly what you are putting out against it. Because if you are playing against a team that runs a bunch of little guys out there on the coverage unit, you don't want to put a bunch of slugs out there and they'll run right by you. We have to wait a couple days to make sure we're not premature."
Can you name the advantages and disadvantages of your opponent playing a game before you do?"There's pros and cons for both sides. For them, they'll already have a game under their belt. They'll already have knocked off some of the rust from not having played. From our sake, we'll be fresher. That's the two big obvious advantages for the two teams. They'll already have a game under the belt, but of course, we'll get to see that game so we'll get to see their change in personnel from last year and be fresher. So there's a give and take, that's why you can't get too wrapped up in it, even during the year, like somebody has a bye and you don't have a bye, what are the advantages. Well, they are fresher but you stay in your routine, there's always a good side and bad side of that question."
You have a lot of guys who have played a lot but you don't have any breakout stars at this point. Is that a good way to have a roster going into the season?"I'm hoping by the end of the year, Ben, that changes dramatically. I'm hoping that will be the case. I just hope they're antsy and ready to go, and I think there is no reason for that not to be the case."
You mentioned the players' schedule is going to be different. Is your schedule going to be different?"Well, obviously, mine is going to be different because I'm going to be spending more time on Monday with Brian (Hardin) early in the day. I kind of did a dry run this week so I kind of figured out how it works out. So I know which part of the day I'm with special teams; which part of the day I'm with offense; and which part of the day I'm with defense, and then we pull that back all together. This week we went through a dry run of game week. So today was like your typical Thursday of game week and tomorrow is a typical Friday. Saturday they are going to go out there and go to the stadium and they're going to get taped up and put full gear on and go through pre-game warm-ups and do everything but play the game. So this week was the week where we were just trying to get everybody acclimated into a regular game week, and that's coaches included."
Back to Sunday being the day off, is that also going to help because their bodies may be beat up a little more under this game plan of having a full-speed practice?"I don't think that's much the case because last year, there were times last year, you know we kind of changed a few things where we would go full speed on Sunday after playing a game on Saturday. I think they're very appreciative to be able to sleep in like the rest of the free world on Sunday. Coaches will be in, in case you are wondering (smiling), but players will get a chance to sleep in."