Another New Start

Another year, another new coaching position for Randall McCray. After coaching the linebackers last year, McCray is now in charge of Wisconsin's safeties, a position he is familiar with from his days as a coordinator and a position he is excited to dive into.

Badger Nation: How are excited are you to end your spring break and putting in 15 practices with the guys?

Randall McCray: It's always exciting to see kids work and get a little bit better. Obviously that is your goal, to work and get better everyday that you can.

Badger Nation: Your role at Wisconsin is changing again with you moving to coaching the safeties. Is that a coaching role you are familiar with and how did the position change come about?

RM: Well, I've been a coordinator before. I've been a coordinator for four years so you work with all the positions. I played the position in college (Appalachian State) as an outside linebacker/safety type guy. I like that kind of stuff. Once you coordinate, you learn to coach that position and all that kind of stuff. I was hired at Rice before I came here to coach the safeties. It's a position I am familiar with just because your use to working hard and using the right techniques.

Badger Nation: Talk about working with the outside backers in the nickel role. Can you talk about how some of these guys are making an impact?

RM: Working with outside backers last year and things not seen behind the seen, I had the nickels anyway and when we went to inside drill, Coach Doeren coached all the backers and I took the safeties. It's nothing new. They've been working with me for over a year now in certain drills. I am already familiar with the young men and they are familiar with my coaching style. It's just a natural transition. The things they are hearing from me now is the same thing they've been hearing from me the last year.

Badger Nation: What are some of the things they are hearing from you now?

RM: Working on the attention to the details, the footwork and making sure they are communicating to the linebackers and all the coverage checks and adjustments. Being in the right position and the right time and knowing the keys and reads. Those kinds of things.

Badger Nation: Where does Shane Carter need to do in order to get back to where he started when he first took over the position?

RM: Just keep working hard. The great thing we've got at the safety position is we've got competition. Competition should bring out the best in all of them. Shane has just got to keep competing and doing the little things right. Aubrey (Pleasant), Jay (Valai), Shelton  Johnson, Chris Maragos, all those guys are competing for two positions. Competition brings out the best in them you hope.

It's a wide-open position right now and I don't think anything will be penciled in for a little while. We don't want to pencil anything or tell them who is starting. We've got some experience back there and we want that experience to start leading our defense.

Badger Nation: There's a transition period now with your linebackers leaving. What's the good thing about the situation?

RM: It's always a transition (laugh). The good thing about the linebacking position is there are a lot of guys still hanging around that have started ball games for us. Culmer (St. Jean) started games, Jae (McFadden) started games, Blake (Sorensen) started games for us last year. So, you got kids that know how to step into a situation and play, even on game day. The thing you look for is the younger guys cultivate and see what they can do for us.

Badger Nation: McFadden has jumped around a lot for your unit. Are you looking to solidify him?

RM: You know, he came in, did a great job for us last year at middle linebacker and he's just … I really don't think any of our guys this year care where there home is. They just want to get on the field and make plays for us.

Badger Nation: Can he be the guy to step up and be the leader knowing that he spent so much time on the field with DeAndre (Levy) and Jonathan (Casillas) last year?

RM: Yeah, absolutely. He does a lot of the little things right and I think he has that opportunity. He has a little bit of that voice on the team right now. I think all three of those guys that I mentioned early (second answer) have a little bit of voice. It's just a matter of how they cultivate their leadership from now until the end of spring. That will make a difference.

Badger Nation: What's the biggest thing the whole front seven has to work on losing five starters to graduation?

RM: I think is you look at it and evaluate each day, if they can get a little bit better at one thing every day, that's 15-times better than where we started. If they can do that, basic fundamentals, I think we will be a little bit better team in our front seven.

Badger Nation: Is spring football a fun time for the players?

RM: Well, there's not as much pressure. They're getting prepared everyday to learn how to run, play and hit and do the fundamental things. They aren't getting ready for a ball game. For scrimmages on Saturdays, the pressure is to win a job. I think they tend to enjoy it, like it. You play football to be physical and springs are obviously a lot more physical than fall practices are.

Badger Nation: Outside of the season, more than any part of the offseason, is spring ball where you learn where your leaders are?

RM: I think you cultivate those leaders during winter workouts. The guys that step up and don't let the team have a bad day and things like that. Those guys cultivate themselves over the rest of the guys to be leaders of a sort. I think during spring ball, those leaders jump ahead, but I think the guys that really show up, because spring is a tough and physical time, are the tough guys. What you hope is that you have a bunch of tough guys and the leaders lead those guys.

Badger Nation: Are there any young guys, freshman/sophomores, that you are excited to see work?

RM: Obviously Mike Taylor we are excited to see work at the mike. Mike is from Ashwaubenon (Wis.) and we expected some things out of him last year to come into camp and he had the neck surgery to remove a spur. Got it fixed on him, he's set to go and we're anxious for that. Kevin Rouse had surgery and we're anxious to see him finally play. When he's healthy, he can really strike people now. Leonard Hubbard didn't get to do a lot as a freshman, was primarily on scout team, so I am anxious to see him. There are a bunch of young guys that we are anxious to see.


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