What is the status of Mike Newkirk?
Nuke basically irritated his shoulder. It's something he did in the fall and kinda irritated it a month ago lifting. He aggravated it on Saturday. So what we are doing is making sure everything is all right, looking at it and does all the tests. If he does have to have surgery, we're going to do it sooner than later so he can be involved in everything for summer conditioning. We'll know more in the next 48 hours.
Cascone has a routine shoulder surgery. His disc slipped out on him. He had problems last fall. He was in a reserve, reserve roll for us. He worked all the way until the Minnesota game and as soon as we got done with preparation, he had surgery and he misses all of bowl preparation in hopes to be involved in all of summer conditioning.
Brandon Hoey has back surgery. Again, we did halfway through the fall. The thing with him and Newkirk is to progress them back slowly and if they have any of the issues they have had in the past, especially with Brandon because his is more severe, it could possibly be the end.
Is this a good time for Lance Kendricks to show his progress?
It is. Between Lance and a guy named Rob Korslin. Rob has done some good things; we get to see where Jake Byrne is and Mickey Turner especially. I think this is a great opportunity with Garrett and Travis out of the lineup to see where they are. I think Mickey and Lance in particular have taken full advantage of that.
Is it unfair to compare Lance and Travis at this stage because everyone is going to do that?
Everyone is and yeah it probably is. They are two different beasts. Lance is very athletic and competitive, but probably not the natural athlete as Travis. One the same account, Lance has got good speed when he gets into the open field. He might be faster with the straight ahead speed. Lance came in with the idea of being a wide receiver and we slowly had to transform him into playing that H-position.
How hard was that to convince him?
It is probably still in the works. I think he has gotten into it. He's probably one of our biggest gains during the year last year. We do the little thing before practice called the ‘Badger Drill' and he really got into it and learned how to keep his body flush and how to apply pressure on another body and do some good things.
What do you learn about guys in the Badger Drill?
One of the reasons we do it is that it is 1-on-1. A lot of kids make great contact but they don't drive their feet. I think in particular our offensive blockers get more out of it because for the first time, they are put in an isolation block in front of everybody and they have to drive their feet to get someone off the ball. That will start Thursday.
Have you thought about moving Royston or do you have in faith in the other corners?
We do think he fits in better at safety. We started him at corner and for him to play corner, we would have to guard him all the time. During the fall at one point, we moved him into the starting lineup at strong safety. In certain formations and certain type offense, our two free safeties might be better than our strong safety based on what the offense is trying to do. We'll get it more into our sub package eventually when he becomes a starter and put him in a position where he can be more consistent. Because one of the areas that I have observed as a head coach and he noted as well, he played a lot of different positions and he hasn't been able to call one spot home. That's what we're trying to do for him.
Have you liked what you seen from your three freshmen and one JUCO that enrolled early?
I think all of them have been a little bit different. Jake Current for instance, probably not guy in our weight room that has made bigger gains in a short amount of time than him. His body has changed since he has been here. I got a kick walking out of Saturday's practice and he bumped into one of the other student athletes that wasn't a football player and he asked how day one was and he said confusing. I think it is coming at him, especially since he's trying to play the center position and he's responsible for making calls. So I am sure it's overwhelming a bit for him.
Jake Byrne. I really like the way he moves and his athleticism. He hasn't shied away from anything. Curt Phillips again, as a quarterback, walking into that huddle, you're responsible for talking to everybody is a little bit of an overwhelming pressure. He's done good in some of the fundamental work, throws the ball well. Dan Moore has been very impressive since he's been here. Today was a lot more impressive than Saturday. All of them were kinda of wowed from the speed of the game to the tempo and what they have to respectively at each position.
Are the wide receivers positions wide open opposite Kyle (Jefferson)?
Yeah I think all wide receiver positions are wide open. Kyle has the natural position because he was able to finish the season there and was able to do certain things. There really isn't anybody in our program that has established them self as an every down player at the wide receiver position. There are a lot of good candidates, especially the guys that have jumped out at you the last couple of days. Nick Toon is doing some good things. Daven Jones continues to do good things. It's going to be interesting to see how that goes.
Is that a position that is going to go into camp (to decide)?
Yes. I would guess because there are certain guys physically that can make a lot of gains with the remaining lifting schedule we'll have after the season as well as summer conditioning. People's bodies change in a short amount of time.
What about Isaac Anderson?
Isaac has put on a little more girth because physically he hasn't been able to hold up. That's been a big thing that has gone through his mind and us as coaches; he's got to put himself in position to show us that he has some durability. Hopefully we'll just wait. The little things you saw out there today were positive signs.
I like what Garrett has done. Obviously when you have a shoulder surgery, it really limits what you can do upper body wise. But on the flip side, he has good lower body strength and has really put on some weight due to his inactivity, which isn't a bad thing for his durability the next two years. In addition, we pointed out to Travis that it is a way to emphasize to him to put on weight and lose some things in the right direction.
What would you like for Travis to get out of this spring practices?
The main thing for all of our guys, you see Garrett and Travis standing there with their clipboards, I want them to be into the situation. The one thing that I have really been pleased with the last two days is the way the guys who aren't involved are staying involved. That's a hard thing to do, especially with certain kids. There are certain negatives and positives with kids missing spring football. A lot of them are seasoned football players. Garrett, Travis, Chapman, Langford, Aaron Henry (who was only a freshman but played a lot of football for us). Those guys can be great teachers for the guys coming in.
The one thing that I emphasize to the coaches – give your guys a plan for the guy that can't play and make them coach and educate the other guys up. Hopefully, they are telling them the right things, but at least they are into it and staying involved, which is a positive for us.