I know our guys are chomping at the bit to get going. We had a really good camp, an excellent camp. We had a few minor injuries here and there, and a couple of those guys will be back today practicing. We're really excited about this opportunity this week. Oklahoma State is going to be an excellent team coming in here, with a lot of experience coming back, coming off a year in going to the Cotton Bowl. They have great expectations for themselves, and we have great expectations for ourselves. The team, the attitude to this offseason from summer going into training camp has been tremendous. I couldn't ask for this team to be in any better shape than they are right now. We have our first practice today, which is a true game week practice.
On the status of Tab Perry:
Tab has turned in all the information he needed to, in terms of the appeals and the process of going through the NCAA. UCLA has done its part as well in his case. Everything right now is in the NCAA's hands to make a determination. We're very optimistic that its going to work out just fine, but we're waiting to hear back from the NCAA. I hope its not by the end of the week. That's not a good sign. We'd rather it be earlier in the week rather than the end of the week. He's part of the game plan. We feel strongly that he's presented a strong case to be reinstated and we're holding to that in case we hear otherwise, but we have to have Plan B available as well.
On the status of Justin London and Eyoseph Efseaff:
Both of them are still nursing their injuries. Justin has the high ankle sprain and I would say he's out for the game. He hasn't practice in two weeks and he's just gotten out of the boot. He'll start to rehab in the running and conditioning phase this week. But the likelihood is no, he won't be available this week. Eyoseph has that groin injury that has limited him some the last couple of weeks. He has not been able to practice a full practice the last couple of weeks, so that will be, if anything upgraded from not playing, but it will depend on how much he practices this week. Cleary will be the weak guard and Chai will rotate in there at weak guard.
On where things are going into the first game this year as opposed to the first game last year:
Much better. We're a lot further ahead in all respects. Offensively, the second year of being in the system, and with the additions of the coaches, they've done a tremendous job of building our offense to a very productive and satisfying level right now. Defensively we have some young players on our defensive line that are playing for the first time this year. But I'm excited to watch them play, and they're going to do some good things this year. We have a number of them playing. It will be your job to keep up with them because there will be numbers rotating in there. This teams excited about this challenge. The challenge that not a lot of people believe in them. We'll make our name as we move along during the season.
On the maturation of Drew Olson:
He's done a tremendous job. You'll see a marked difference when he's playing, a marked difference from a year ago. He's really put the time into learning this offense and he's at a level where he's a great leader in this offense. And he has a commanding presence in that huddle. We're excited to watch him play.
On the importance of the opener:
It's important in any program. The attitude and effort is as good as it's ever been. And our coaches are excited about that and our players are feeding off that. The work ethic that has been involved the last six months, that's helped get us to this position where we're currently at. We haven't won a game yet, but those are all strong indicators of positives that are going to happen. And that's why they are excited about this challenge this week. It's a very good football team in Oklahoma State that's coming in here. Their coach has been their four years, and he's got a program that is among the best in the Big 12. This is a great challenge for us, a great measuring stick for us.
On how he feels personally, going into this year compared to last year:
A tremendous difference. A lot of it is because you are a year into it, and you made some mistakes in your first year and you want to learn from those mistakes. I've paid a lot of attention to those particular issues. Secondly, the staff is built in a way where it should be. Pieces to the puzzle are in place. Our offensive staff has a great continuity and balance. Our defensive staff did a tremendous job a year ago. They are great at teaching the young kids this year. A lot of those things, there's a tremendous comfort level, because things are in place. I have a lot to prove though. This team is hungry.
On why he opened practices to the media this year after closing them last year
They brought me lunch! In dealing with the media, I've never had a negative issue with them. I know that's been portrayed as such. I have enough of a relationship though now with the guys that have been here day in and day out. You look back a year later, and you learn from your mistakes. You can ask these guys ‘you enjoy coming to practice now?' (They have) no comment, but their smiling. Our relationship is great, and we're hoping to keep building on that.
On the offensive line depth
We don't have a lack of depth any more. Those guys are just young. And they're going to play. They're in our second team, and those three players, Chris Joseph, Shannon Tevaga and Brian Abraham, its going to be trial by experience. Its going to be different than what they have seen before, but that's part of playing at this level.
On Manuel White's usage at fullback.
Manny will play some fullback, but he's mostly going to be carrying the ball.
Captains Selected By The Team
Defensive: Spencer Havner
Offensive: Manuel White