Aug. 7, 2008
Watch Highlights of 2008 Media Day
HEAD COACH Kevin Sumlin
"I want to thank everyone for coming. I know we had Media Day scheduled for Tuesday, but with the weather, I really appreciate everyone changing your schedules to be here. We are in the middle of practice. Wednesday was our first day in shoulder pads when we got back outside and we'll be back outside today. On Saturday we will open our evening practice at the Carl Lewis Track Complex. We have been closed all week while we worked on a couple of things.
"I think as things go, the reason we have so many guys up here is that the seniors have done a great job so far in showing leadership. They've really communicated what we are trying to do as coaches and how we want to play the game and these guys have been wonderful. I had a meeting with the seniors the other day and we are all on the same page as far as what we want accomplish and how we want to get there. We are looking forward to this year. There has been a general excitement because we have new schemes and new coaches and the players are just getting to know us. Guys are playing different positions, a different offense, a different defense and a different style of special teams. Usually it's the coaches who like to go to camp for two-a-days. But these guys have been great and we'll continue to go from there. The scrimmages have been announced and they will be open to the public, but the practice on Saturday night will be open too."
On Sumlin's biggest concern heading into camp
"Since we haven't played a game, everything is a concern. We have got to be sound in what we do in all phases. We have three new systems, so it's working at everything. We are spending time out there, we really slowed down the teaching earlier this week. It's really helped us being out of pads and then moving on to shoulder pads and helmets. We slowed the pace down to try and teach the fundamentals of what we are trying to do on offense, defense and especially on special teams because we have a lot of new schemes. We are paying attention to everything. We are trying to leave no stone unturned."
On the effect of the coaching changes on the seniors
"During practice we have had great enthusiasm. Our meetings have been good. But coaching changes are particularly difficult on seniors. Especially when they have been through a system and become used to the old coaching staff. But these guys have been wonderful, especially with their communication with the other players and their leadership on the field. Leading by example. I have been pleased with how they have done things and how they come to work each day."
On the quarterback situation
"Everyday has brought something new. Putting in a new system with new coaches, guys respond differently and at different times. You could see that during spring football. Blake Joseph came on towards the end. He had excellent Spring Game. He deserves the right to come in and compete for the job based on his progress. What we are looking for is a guy who is consistent. A guy who can win games for us. A guy who can manage a game but also a guy who can also make plays when it counts. We are still evaluating that."
On difficulty of choosing the starting quarterback
"It will be difficult. We talk about it everyday. You watch one drill, but you haven't seen everything all week. You might come out on Saturday and one guy might light it up and fans may say `that guy is the quarterback.' But then they haven't seen the other seven practices that week. All their seeing is a snapshot. We're evaluating every drill, every completion and every interception. Over the course of time, there are plenty of opportunities to make evaluations."
On when a decision at quarterback might be made
"Ideally, we would like to have made a decision by around (Aug. 18). You would like to get a guy ready for the first game by giving him more reps than the other guy. But we'll take it and if it continues the way it is, we'll stretch it out as long as we can. But, ultimately you have to get one guy extremely prepared especially with classes the week of the first game. Class starts Aug. 25 here, so you don't have as much meeting or practice time. The reps a guy can get are cut down, so we need to get that ironed out.
On strength of offensive line affecting quarterback decision
"I don't think so. They are both getting equal time behind the number one group, so you're able to evaluate them behind those guys. I have been very pleased with both fronts - offense and defense - with their progress. With the exception of some penalties and some sloppy play, I thought that yesterday our front lines got after it against each other as good as we've seen. The quarterbacks are getting equal reps behind that first group, so it's all equal."
On the new offensice scheme
"I think it's going great. The steps they are making and the speed of the play has been great. As we work against each other, that will change. The defense will get more familiar with what we are trying to do on offense. I have been pleased with how they have improved since the spring until now. The intensity level really has been where it's been needed to be. It's encouraging as a coach to see guys trying to do what you're telling them to do. It doesn't always happen. But we can see that now. Guys are trying to put it together. They are trying to do what we are telling them. We've got three more weeks to get it right."
On the impending football season and finally getting a chance to coach
"You don't really have a chance to think about it. Football is football. I've never done any of things I've had to do the past seven months. I'm just happy football season is here. I finally get to go outside and coach these guys. We're having a good time and I think the players are too. We're always learning, but football is a hard game. It takes a different type of person to want to go out in 100 degree heat and hit guys for two hours. That's not natural. It's also not natural to yell at guys and make them do it either. We have a good time and try to make it fun. But this is the happiest I've been so far. It's football season."
On the impact of the newcomers on the upcoming season
"It's way to early. Yesterday was the first day of shoulder pads, we haven't even put pants on yet. It's amazing, it's a completely different team when you don't have pads on. When you finally put the pads on, some guys completely disappear for a year and you never see them again. That's why you have red shirts. They're all pretty fast and pretty fearless, then all of the sudden, you start hitting and tackling and you don't see them for a year or two. We'll wait until then to evaluate."
SENIOR SAFTEY Kenneth Fontenette
On the changes in coaching staff
"In comparison to the previous years, the tempo is a lot faster at practice. Before we had a relaxed staff and practice was not lackadaisical or anything, but it was just at a pace. This year we have to smash it out, real tempo, and a more physical degree of football."
On the differences in mentality from last year to this year
"I think with everyone's accolades coming in, as far as the coaching staff. They have been to great places before and we just expect to be great. We want to be perfect. The expectations are high. We want to win every game and we think we can win every game on the schedule. Anything less, I am not going to say is a let down, but that is definitely our goal."
On Coach Kevin Sumlin
"He makes it fun. Everything is about competition, which makes it fun. That is the greatest measure. Practice is a lot more fun, up-tempo and physical. I just can't wait to play for him."
On the challenges or different things Coach Sumlin asked for
"There were no personal challenges, but collectively as a senior group, he wanted the leadership to continue. He didn't ask for much more, just to lead. Pick practice up and keep the young guys going."
SENIOR TIGHT END Mark Hafner
On how it has been since the new coaching staff has come in
"It has been a great thing. They have asked a lot of guys to step up and take on leadership roles. When you have great seniors like we have out here, it just becomes a good deal for us."
On becoming a leader and helping the young guys on the team
"For the freshmen coming in from high school, this is a new system for them just as much as it is for us. It is just easier for us to explain since we have been doing it since spring this year."
SENIOR DEFENSIVE END Phillip Hunt
On what he thinks about playing in the first game of his last season
"The first game is going to be the confidence booster. It is going to set the tone for how we play for the rest of the season. We want to come out with a good start and put our heads on straight and we want to win."
On how difficult it was to be introduced to a new coaching staff
"It has been a little difficult, but as time passed, we have gotten use to them, their structure and how they do things. It is a real nice feeling."
SENIOR SAFTEY Ernest Miller
On how the coaching has changed
"The schemes have us more prepared, we feel like we are fitting in the right gaps. It is more complex than what we are use to and they are the type of coaching staff that can hide our weaknesses."