When you enter UTSA’s practice field, there are typically a few coaches walking around talking to players trying to get the energy up. In the first week and a half of fall camp, and in much of the spring, one of the more energetic coaches on the practice field has been defensive coordinator Pete Golding.
Golding, who has a fiery and energetic personality, is in his first year as UTSA’s d-coordinator and cornerbacks coach. The Louisiana-native came to UTSA after spending the prior two seasons at Southern Miss.
On Monday at UTSA’s Media Day, Golding met with media for the first time since arriving at UTSA. Here is our question and answer session:
INTERVIEW WITH DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR PETE GOLDING
How have practices been going?
“I think our kids have been doing a great job the first week and a half of camp. They’ve really opened up. They’ve accepted the new coaching, accepting the new ideas. They’re coming to work everyday. Our staff has done a great job with them. A lot of our young players have really gotten developed in the last week and a half. I think you’ll hear a bunch of new names this fall that will be playing for us. We’ve got some older guys that have been here that are playing really well as well. So I’m excited where we’re at. We still have a way to go but think the first week and a half has been awesome.”
Have you been surprised by anything?
“The freshmen defensive linemen, (Eric) Banks and (Solomon) Wise are a lot further along than I anticipated them in being 18 years old. With Banks being a high school quarterback and Solomon, they’ve put on weight. They’re dynamic pass-rushers. I think Teddrick McGhee at corner as a true freshman is a really good player. A couple of transfers that came in are really catching our eye right now as well as Devron Davis. At the corner position I think N’Keal Bailey and Aneas (Hendricks) are playing really well right now, they’re the best that I’ve seen him since I’ve been here. They’re light years from where they were at in the spring. We have a great competition there. And I think we’re playing really well upfront.”
How do you weigh playing freshmen vs redshirts?
“The best thing for us is that we are a brand new staff so everybody has a clean slate. We don’t look at it as you’re a freshman, a sophomore, a junior or a senior. Right now we’re trying to get them in the right spots where they can help us. And we’re going to play the best players regardless if they are a freshman or a senior. I’m not looking at a freshman as to how good he’s going to be his senior year. If he can help us in any capacity this year, we’re going to play him because we need him. If he can help us win a game this year, he will play. So that’s the big thing. We’re not looking at freshman or senior we’re looking at numbers up there. We evaluate the film based on the number, regardless of the age. And there’s been some young players this fall camp in the first ten days that have shown they are going to play for us, no question. I don’t know if they’re going to start yet. There is going to be true freshman that have significant roles on this defense this year. Because we need them.”
Who have been some of the standouts this fall?
“Our defense is based around the middle. I think Baylen Baker is playing really well at the nose guard position right now. I think Vontrell (King-Williams) has his best practice yesterday in the scrimmage format. That’s one thing about Vontrell, in the spring game and in yesterday’s scrimmage, when we’re under these lights he plays his best football. So I think we’re anchored really good at the nose spot. And then Josiah (Tauaefa) at the Mike (LB), he’s going to be special. Obviously that was a new position for him in the spring, he played defensive end last year, I know he redshirted, but he’s really come along. He’s a really good player. Then the free safety spot, it’s really nice to have Nate Gaines back. We didn’t have him for spring. He’s a smart kid, gets to the football. One the edge, obviously Marcus Davenport is going to special and we’ve got two freshman that are going to be just like him – Eric Banks and Solomon Wise. Upfront we’re playing really well. At linebacker, Josiah and we’ve got a battle at Will (LB) between La’Kel Bass and (Marcos) Curry, and Ronnie Fiest.”
How’s LSU Transfer Ronnie Fiest doing?
“He played multiple spots at LSU. He’s dynamic, he can run, he can rush the passer. What we’re looking for out of that outside linebacker spot, he does it. It’s a battle right now. The biggest thing is that we got to get six guys we can rotate and stay fresh because all of those guys can play special teams. It’s a battle right now.”
Is the scheme different from 2015?
“At times it will look similar based upon the personnel that’s in the game and the situation. But I think it’s going to be a lot different.”
Is the scheme more aggressive?
“If the offense presents itself, we’ll play percentage football, but absolutely. We’re not going to sit back. We’re going to dictate it and the offense is going to have to react to us. The big thing is being able to stop the run and put them in passing situations.”
Do you want to be in more three down linemen sets?
“The big thing is what you’re seeing that week, that’s the basis of being multiple. It’s what kind of offense are you seeing that week. What’s their bread and butter and how can we take that away? What personnel do we need to do that? And what personnel do we have? Who can we recruit? Who are the best players we can get? And then we’re going to adapt our defense around that.”
How has Jordan Moore looked?
“Through drills at practice, at his size, I have not personally seen anybody move the way he does in person. We’ll see what he can do when it’s live, when there’s bullets coming at him. But right now from an athletic ability skillset, we ain’t got anybody like him. However he can help us win football games is where we’re going to put him. If that’s on both sides with certain packages at certain times, that’ll be it but we’ll find a way to get him on the field.”
How has the offense looked?
“Coach Scelfo does a lot of motions and treys and shifts and all kinds of stuff that changes the picture. When you don’t move, it’s easy for our guys, we make the call, we’re ready to go. Then there’s moving parts. The football intelligence part and communication has been great for us in camp so once the fall hits, we’ve been there, we’ve seen it live. It’s been awesome. Their style of offense, the physicality of it, I love as a defensive coordinator because it puts our kids into position.”
When do you get into Alabama State?
“We researched them a bunch in the offseason. In the summer we designated a couple of weeks to them. Our kids don’t realize it but there are certain drills, formations, and plays that are Alabama State. We’ll start getting into more next week."
What can you say about the opportunity to you have here?
“It’s a great opportunity. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a lot of good, good, coaches. I feel like I’m very well prepared. I’ve had six years coordinating defenses. It’s a different level but football is football. We have smarter, stronger, and faster players. I’m excited about it.”
What do you think about UTSA and the Alamodome?
“My first year at Southern Miss, we actually came here and played. I remember being here, it was a Thursday night game, if I remember right, and just he energy and people in here. I was thought it was a special place. There’s no where else in our conference where you feel that way on game day.”