Bret Bielema - This practice is similar to last week's Thursday practice. What we try to do is get the most out of going against each other, as well as some individual work. Unfortunately we lost another guy, Dan Moore, for probably the remainder of the spring. He'll go under some further evaluations for the afternoon. We got good news on Saturday that it wasn't as bad as we thought on Saturday during the day. But he'll be reevaluated today and hopefully will have more information on Thursday for you.
Depending on what the evaluation is, do you expect him to play at some point?
Bret Bielema - We don't get him back in the spring. Depending on if he has to have a major surgery, minor surgery or not surgery at all. It really depends on what they find out later today.
DeAndre Levy is missing now?
Bret Bielema - Dre actually scrimmaged as well as I have seen him play (Saturday). But he told me when he got up, he was real tight right in the back and yesterday when he started to lift, really aggravated it and had some spasms. He's doing a lot better today but we felt that if we practiced him today, we wouldn't have him for Thursday and Saturday. We're sitting him out today and we should have him back Thursday.
What have you been most happy with so far this spring?
Bret Bielema - You know what, I've been very happy on offense with the progression of John Clay. He's a guy that has been in our program now and really understands what we're trying to get out of him, especially on Saturday. Zach Brown had a little bruise on his fore arm so John got a lot of reps and really took advantage of every opportunity.
On defense, some of the younger inside players, Jasper Grimes and Josh Neal, have really come on in the last week because they are getting a lot of reps, but it's a pleasant surprise to see them getting something out of it.
Coach, how have you like what the wide receivers have done?
Bret Bielema - I want (Jefferson and Gilreath) to play better. I think David is trying to take a step forward as a wide receiver. We saw what he can do as a return guy a year ago. I want, for the most part, to really compete. He's put some balls on the ground and he's a guy we are counting on to do big things. He's got to understand that he can be as good as he wants to be but if he starts looking around him, he's not going to get anywhere. He's got to focus on himself.
Do you remember a spring like this where you have so many injuries? Bret Bielema - Nah, not before spring started. It was kind of unusual. In December when we were scheduling all the surgeries, I started counting the numbers and understanding who was going to be missing from a defensive point of view. We have potentially, probably, eight starters out on defense alone. On offense, obviously, Garrett and Travis are pretty big impact players for us offensively not to have them out there.
On the flip side of it, it's the first time we've had P.J. through all of winter conditioning. I thought he's really made a gigantic step as a football player.
What's the status of Travis Beckum?
Bret Bielema - He's getting better. He's getting cleared, him and Garrett. Travis is a little bit ahead of Garrett because the surgery was not as significant as Garrett's. They have been running routes now and they can run and anytime they get cleared to run routes, they are able to fall down, catch themselves and not injure them. We're just worried about any type of contact. They should be both cleared, full go, when we start our summer conditioning.
Do you expect Nick Toon back at all?
Bret Bielema - We do. Nick and Ricky (Garner) and Elijah (Hodge), who has practiced today more than any other practice, but Ricky and Nick we are hoping to get back by Saturday. If not, they should be back sometime next week. Ricky had a pretty significant hamstring (injury). He's got a lot of discoloration and was probably a little more significant than we thought early on.
How is your quarterback situation?
Bret Bielema - What I liked on Saturday is that there were a couple interceptions, a couple bad things and a couple tough catches. But everybody kind of have one bad play and for the most part, they made some nice throws, some timing patterns, some out routes that are the hardest passes to complete. As a defensive coach, you always work inside out and the hardest passes are the ones that are on the perimeter and those were some of the passes completed on Saturday.
What's the status of Brad Thorson?
Bret Bielema - Brad is going to explore other options and is not with us anymore. I had a discussion with him yesterday and we're going to do whatever we can, we'll give him support and do what we can for the rest of the semester. But he's a guy in the recruiting process had a lot of options and I'd expect that to be the same.
Is that a connection to what happened with Dan Moore on Saturday?
Bret Bielema - Well, there's a lot of things that go into a situation that brought Brad to where he is. From a head coach's standpoint, the only thing I care about it the well being of our players and I think there's a time where that was going to be misinterpreted by him and everyone else and it's a feeling that we have to come together on.
For a coaching staff, how valuable a guy is John Moffitt and his versatility?
Bret Bielema - We come in and thought he was going to be a defensive player originally during recruiting and because of pure numbers, we moved him to offense early on. I'll go back to Coach Palcic's first year when he had all those guys together, he thought Moffitt might be the guy high-end wise with the most potential. That's what he's been. He's been very versatile for us right now and really during the middle of the year last year, we said to him that we're going to need a center a year from now and do some extra work after work. During winter conditioning he really did good work one-on-one working with the quarterbacks without any coaches around. Really today, all the center-quarterback exchanges have been with the number two center, so we've been really clean and we're excited about him.
Did he grasp that position originally?
Bret Bielema - He has. John is a very intelligent football player. It's important to him. I really felt early on in the recruiting process to where we are right now, you can kind of get a gauge. At the center position, John is very unique because you need a guy that can understand the big picture – read DBs, read protections. It's somebody that kind of needs to have a bigger picture that sometimes a guard or a tackle and not just worry about the guy over top of you.
Is it going to be Nagy and Current now as the backup center?
Bret Bielema - Yeah, it's just Jake is a freshman. It's kind of like Curt Phillips at quarterback that you have so much going on. I think that the one thing that Bill Nagy has been able to provide for us, like Moffitt, is being able to play guard and center for us. He hadn't been concentration on it all that much for us but he obviously has to now.
You know, Thorson originally committed to Minnesota. Do you think that's one of the options he'll try to explore?
Bret Bielema - Ah, I don't know. It's early in the process. I talk to him and it's my standard procedure as a head coach, I don't release to anybody that is on our schedule. What I do is, a kid is a first-year, second-year, third-year, fourth-year player, what I do is I take the schedule we have remaining that they would be eligible to play in games and I don't release them to anybody on the roster. It doesn't have anything to do with what schools, just the schools on our schedule. Brad has three years of eligibility remaining so those would be the schools he won't be allowed to talk to.
Are they receivers after David and Kyle that have showed you some things so far?
Bret Bielema - (Maurice) Moore showed some things, Daven (Jones) has showed some things. Also, the one thing that has been good for us is the development of Isaac Anderson. He's probably put on 10 pounds and when you start talking about a guy that weights 170 pounds, it's a significant amount and he's probably been the guy, in my opinion, that has made the biggest jump from the fall to where we are right now.