BadgerNation: What was your main message to your group this spring?
Inoke Breckterfield: Right now I’m not worried about them making mistakes. We don’t play until September, so I really just told them to cut it loose. That’s really been the message from day one with Coach Chryst telling them to cut it loose. I think they turned a corner (after spring break) and played a little faster. Obviously we have a lot of room to grow and work to do, but I think they had fun out there.
BN: Do you know who your top group is on the line?
IB: I’m just trying to flip guys around to get the best combination. I think Arthur Goldberg has done some really good stuff. Conor Sheehy is doing some good stuff. I wouldn’t say it’s the surprise, but it’s good to see Zander Neuville do some stuff out there. I think the guy who has made the biggest strides from day one of spring until the last week was Billy Hirschfeld. He was getting some work with the twos. It’s a good group in the sense that they care for each other, they want the best for each other and they push each other. That’s pretty cool.
BN: Explain how you are teaching these guys to become better football players.
IB: I have my philosophy on things. Some of the stuff I’m teaching is a little different than they are used to. All I ask them is I want to see them on film trying to do what I’m trying to coach them to do. We’re at a point where we know what to do but it’s going to take a lot of reps to get that unconscious competence, doing it without thinking. We are in that part where we know what to do but we’re still working to get to the automatic part.
IB: I wouldn’t say it was a difficult situation. I came to love and appreciate the players at Pitt but it is the business. When Paul asked me to come with him, it was a no brainer for me to come with him. He’s a great guy to work for. He gives you the freedom to coach and to develop your position. He cares for his players and the families of coaches. That to me creates a great working environment, and he’s a great friend. It was easy for me.
BN: What do you like about Dave Aranda’s 3-4 defense?
IB: It’s fun to watch with the pressures and everything. It’s a fun defense to be in if you buy into it and get his subtle coaching points. We’ve got a bunch of guys here who are very cerebral who are in their second or third year in the system. It was easy for me to come in and have them coach me up at the same time with some different things. It’s been fun for me and it allows the players to have success there. Working with Dave is also a great opportunity for me. I knew Dave before coming here, we had a lot of mutual friends in Hawaii and I spent some time with him in Florida. I was pretty happy when he decided to stay to get a chance to coach with him.