Post Scrimmage Interview With Skip Holtz

Gamecock Insider was there to get Skip Holtz's thoughts immediately following the spring's first scrimmage Saturday. Here are his thoughts in their entirety for our premium subscribers ...

Skip Holtz

"We've spent a lot of time on the inside running game. We've spent a lot of time on being physical and getting after it. I am excited about the energy level this team brings to the field. Really I think Dondrial brings a lot of good things ... and Syvelle and Blake, I am excited about the things they bring to the table. It was good to get them in a scrimmage situation, I think they did very well for their first time in this sort of atmosphere. I was very pleased with the way this team went out and did what they did today."

"When you look at what we've been trying to do. When you look at Cory Boyd and the development of Gonzie Gray, Demetris Summers and Daccus Turman ... when you look at those guys, three of them have played and one of them is going to be a fifth year senior and now he is obviously ready to play ... I felt like Gonzie was ready to play at the end of last year but there wasn't a lot of room because there is only one ball at that tailback position - so we are trying to utilize some formations to get two running backs in the game and do some things with them ... again, I think those four football players - our jobs as a coach is to get the four best football players back there and put the ball in their hands - those four definitely need to be in our two deep. I don't think any one of those four need to be a three or a four from a tailback standpoint. We have done some things to get them in the field more and we will continue to work on that this spring."

"I also think you have guys like Brandon Schweitzer and Jamie Peters that are your I backs - you battering ram type of back that can get in there and pound it out. We'll have to continue to look at that during the course of this spring and work on ways to utilize them more as well."

"I say, from where we were a year ago we are farther along from an offensive standpoint just from a maturity standpoint alone. Last year we were out there in spring and we didn't have Demetris and we didn't have Cory Boyd, we didn't have Chris White who was out with injury - we didn't have Noah Whiteside. We were looking to fill nine holes - whereas this year we have nine returners on offense and that makes all the difference in the world. We have a lot of guys returning from last fall - so from that standpoint we are farther ahead than last year. Are we farther ahead than our competition? No probably not because not being in a bowl hurts you. I mean you get those twenty practices for a bowl game and all those young guys get those practices in prior to spring practice and that gets you that much farther ahead before you come into this. But we will get the most out of spring ball."

"We've gotten an awful lot of work together in as a team and I am really pleased about that. Dondrial has been very heady and I have really been impressed with the young quarterbacks. The offensive line is coming along nicely. Steve Shankweiler is to be commended because he is really getting the offensive line together. I mean I have really been pleased with the progress we are making. They were confused early but the last few practices they are starting to come together. Right now the quarterbacks are being very productive and that is how you evaluate quarterbacks. I'll continue to roll them every three plays, every two plays - these young guys have a chance."

"Mike Rathe is still in the rotation, he is definitely up there with the others. The older guys are performing very well, we've just given the younger guys their shot because they need the work more. Right now when we roll Dondrial jumps in there first, he's the front runner going in, but the decisions will continue to be made off of these scrimmages. Right now all we want to do is win. It's not going to be a popularity contest, it's not going to go to the oldest guy, or the guy with the most experience, it is going to go with the guy who is being the most productive. Now obviously being older, having been in the system for four years, it's going to make Dondrial have a little more advantage out there on the field. But the bottom line is that we will go with the quarterback that puts us in the end zone."

"Now, as we evaluate this scrimmage and future practices if it is clear that one or two of these guys standout and set themselves apart we will start going with giving them more and more snaps in the remainder of these practices. That is something we will evaluate once we look at the film."

"We're doing more things this year than we did a year ago. We've added a split back package which Coach (Lou) really likes and he has talked about a lot and a lot of people have eluded to - the split back veer package ... it is a small compact package that gives us a lot of versatility that people are going to have to learn to adjust to. People are going to have to work hard to defend the package this year."

"There were an awful lot of good things out there today. You can see an awful lot of carryover experience wise this year and at the same time there are some new wrinkles to what we are doing that I think are going to be great additions. We're trying to get the running backs more involved - when you talk about our four running backs, I mean I really like this group a lot. We can use these guys at the tailback position, the running back position and even the wide out position - the receiver position. There were an awful lot of positive things out of this scrimmage today. Today it was more about the running game - we were not going to get out there and throw it around 500 times, we wanted to see where we were on the offensive line and build on that and put it together and put a few wrinkles in there that we needed to work on in the running game - and I saw a lot of bright spots out there today. We don't have the consistency that we need right now - we still have a lot of work to do to put this team together, but when you look at it we have probably a little bit more firepower than we have had on the field in the past when you look at the speed of a Noah (Whiteside) a Matt (Thomas) and a Troy (Williamson) and when you look at the speed and ability of a Gonzie Gray and the running ability of a Daccus Turman and Demetris Summers and Cory Boyd - Boyd especially as a duel threat running and receiving ... I think there is no doubt we have a lot more weapons out there this year. I am very pleased so far, we have a chance to have a lot of continuity - but we still have a long ways to go and we have to develop more consistency - cause you're not going to win because of the big play. We have to learn to control the ball and keep our defense off the field - that's where we still have a long ways to go."

"We're really not moving Cory Boyd or Gonzie Gray to receiver, but we have made the move to move them out of the backfield more - they will go up and play receiver some in a layman's terminology, yeah, but really we are just adding a wrinkle so that when we break the huddle a defense is not going to know where they are going to go. And when you add our tight ends out there and the ability we have there this year, with their blocking and pass catching ability combined ... we're going to be in a one back zone mode and an option mode and an inside running game and an outside running game - or we could use the same personnel to break out of the huddle in a one back formation and do the same things we did a year ago - this package gives us a lot of options to throw at defenses. They are going to have a lot of wrinkles to look at to prepare for us because we are not going to have to do a lot of substitutions to line up in all these different formations ... having a Gonzie Gray and a Cory Boyd with their speed and talent gives us a lot of ability to do that this year."

"There's a learning curve for our quarterbacks. Blake Mitchell didn't start off very spectacular throwing the interception on the first play, and he probably learned a valuable lesson trying to force the ball, and I thought Syvelle went in there and made a couple of mistakes early and mentally was on a downward spiral but I thought both him and Blake did a nice job of regaining their composure and coming back and doing the job they did - but today showed that there is a definite learning curve for the young guys. And I thought Michael Rathe goes in there and did a great job of running this football team ... but it's still about productivity and who does the best job of running this football team. I thought Syvelle goes out there today and some of the things he does physically ... when things break down and things go wrong, I mean he's got two guys wrapped all over him and he is looking at a sack and the next thing you look up and it's a thirty year gain. I mean he is one of those guys who does not have phenomenal speed but he's got great elusiveness and great quickness - he can make you miss. And that's a heck of a weapon when a defensive lineman's got his ears taped back and he's on a full sprint - he ain't going to tackle Syvelle unless he breaks down. But Syvelle's got a ways to go and Blake's got a ways to go and Michael's got a ways to go - but they way they all bounced back today, even Michael after getting the bad snaps from Fran, I really liked that about them today."

"When you look at our tight ends right now you have a Brian Brownlee at 260 an Andy Boyd at 260 and David Laggis who is a freshman at 250 ... we have the ability to go with any of those three guys and compete at this level. We've been playing for the last three years with 238-240 pound tight ends which are more receiving threats. These guys we have now give us more of a chance to secure an edge and take some of the pressure off of our quarterbacks and help us establish more of a running threat ... and all three of these guys are in our plans for this fall."

"There wasn't a lot of I formation out there today, but I think Jamie Peters and Brandon Schweitzer are the two key plugs out there when we get in the I ... and you have to have that in this offense for sideways when we get in the zone in and zone out they give us a lot of ability to kick out, and they are going to serve their purpose and serve their roll ... we started the scrimmage that way with our big fullbacks in there and they really did a pretty good job. I was pleased with the fullbacks today."

"Today we were trying to establish the running game so you won't necessarily see more rolls outs than drop backs from our quarterbacks, but we ask ourselves, what can we do with these guys to give them more of a chance to be successful. But we cannot just be more of a rollout team rather than a pocket passing team - it's just that today we wanted to keep it more of a simple passing game trying to get these guys a chance to be successful - so we scripted for success today. We'll see how far we come with our passing game as we get later into scrimmages this spring."

"After the practice was over ... I ran with the quarterbacks because we need to make sure we are in condition and quarterbacks do not get a chance to run during practice like a lot of the other positions do. But I want to make sure our quarterbacks are in condition so we run a little bit more than we have in the past."

"Dondrial took all the ones today and I rolled with the twos Blake, Syvelle and Michael Rathe all evenly if that tells you anything. But Dondrial did a good job today protecting the ball and moving the offense and he made a couple of great checks - on a third and five he made a great check for a pass completion and a first down which is just what I was looking for.. I mean mentally he is very sharp and very on top of it right now. He is doing a good job of leading this team ... even though today was not a great day for evaluating quarterbacks because the scrimmage was more predicated on working on the offensive line and the running game.

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