Spring Preview: Broussard Interview

We talked with Steve Broussard about running back depth, how he'll work to correct Johnathan Franklin's fumbling issues, and how he sees the depth chart right now...

Q: You've obviously coached with Noel for a while now- how are you expecting him to use the running backs in this offense?

A: Well, you know, hopefully we'll be able to get some guys who can catch the ball in space, catch the ball out of the back field, and then be able to run between the tackles.

Q: Did you see anything on tape where you think you'll need to work on the pass catching skills of the guys who are here?

A: Not really, because they didn't do much out of the back field with their backs, so it was hard to judge. That's why it's good that we can get out there in spring so we can actually get a look at these guys and see what kind of hands and skills they have in that department. We'll be able to find out and see what guys can do what.

Q: From what you saw, what are the biggest areas of improvement for the running backs overall?

A: Well, obviously, everyone knows Johnathan's situations. That's been talked about a lot, as far as him fumbling. That'll be an area of emphasis, but that'll be an area of emphasis with all of us, as a whole offense. Just taking care of the ball and the ball security part of it, so that's nothing new, when you kind of start stressing stuff. But overall, I'm just trying to come in with an open mind and it's a whole new offense, and it's a whole new system. But everybody's going to get some opportunities- how many, I don't know. We're just going to operate with the philosophy of take your opportunities when you get them.

Q: With Johnathan's fumbles, when a guy has an issue like that where he fumbles pretty often, is that a technique thing or is it a mental thing?

A: Well, I'm sure it's probably a little bit of both. When you look at his fumbles, some of them were him going down to the ground and things of that nature. It was a two headed sword. Or it could be in his head where he's worrying about it too much or whatnot. Things of that nature. It's something where you have to emphasize it every day and do some drills and different things so he can gain confidence and just make sure it becomes second nature.

Q: Malcolm Jones, another guy, he played sparingly a year ago. Do you see him fitting in as kind of your bigger, change of pace back?

A: Yeah, that's what we plan. And hopefully he'll be able to do some things out of the back field that we can utilize. So it's just getting with him and seeing him out on the field and seeing what he can do. Like I said, we haven't seen a lot of what these guys can do because the offense a year ago didn't have a whole lot of pass catching or things of that nature. We'll see how much he can do, and go from there.

Q: And then you've got Dalton Hilliard who switched over from the defense. Where do you think he is right now?

A: I just remember him coming out of high school, when I was up at Washington State, and I thought he had a nice skill level then at the running back position. I thought he was a pretty good back coming out of high school. So it's just a matter of him getting some reps and getting into the swing of things. It's hard because I haven't seen him since high school, and he didn't play running back at all so far in college. I need to see him run, and cut, and do those things. But that first day of practice, we'll be able to see where he is and what we have to work with there.

Q: You've also got a few fullbacks listed on the roster. How heavily do you expect that to be used in Noel's offense?

A: Well, we're going to use it. We're going to insert it and be able to use a fullback type of guy. It does have a place for us. So we're going to do it this spring, and do it pretty often. For one, for us to be able to practice it and use it and for another, to be able to service our defense as well.

Q: How do you feel overall about the depth at running back?

A: I mean, hopefully I'm not going through too many guys, where, you know, the top one or two guys start surfacing. You don't want to play a bunch of backs and do that. It's just going to be a learning curve and guys who'll need to be productive. I don't know, really, how deep we are because I haven't seen them in pads. Running around in shorts is OK, but until we can get out in pads and start doing some live stuff, it's hard to really see which guys will be able to play. When you start getting into the contact part of it, and the every day grind, I'll have a better idea.

Q: Do you have an idea of what you're going to have in terms of a depth chart at this point heading into spring?

A: Well, Johnathan is going to start and just those guys that have been here. And hopefully, those guys who didn't get a lot of reps, they'll start seeing some more opportunities and we'll be able to get some good competition for the older guys. Like a Dalton Hilliard, like a Steven Manfro, so those type of guys, like a Malcolm, can start getting some confidence with some reps.

Q: Are you hoping to arrive at a true number 2 guy by the end of spring, or do you think it might take longer?

A: Well, I think you want to know, or at least have an idea, of who's separated themselves. So you'd like to see who's going to be competitive, who's going to have that fire. Who's going to need work at this and that, and then just who's going to separate themselves. I mean, you've got to be able to come out with a depth chart, so we're definitely hoping to have an idea of who those guys are by the end of spring. Hopefully guys are going to start to push forward and separate themselves from the group. Either guys are going to push forward or move back, one of the two.

Q: Is it difficult at all for you, making the switch back to coaching running backs after a few years coaching receivers?

A: No, no, not at all. This is what I know. I understand the position, both from a coaching perspective and playing perspective. I understand the game. It's basically like I never left it. I'd say it actually helped me as a coach to work with the receivers and to do some different things.

Q: Obviously you're a longtime Cougar. How tough is it having a Husky as the head guy?

A: Ah, man, it's tough. Him and Tui. They talk a little bit of smack, but I guess they just don't know any better. But you know, they're forgiven. I understand that they don't have many choices over there, so they have to make do.

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