(Opening Statement)
“Game week is finally here, we are excited for it. I did like our camp. I think we got a lot accomplished. We did a nice job of working hard on our individual skills, working hard on understanding the schemes we want to utilize offensively and defensively. I think our attitude was very good, our work ethic was good and our players did the best that they could do as far putting all their effort into it. Last Friday night we had a mock game which we ran just like a game, really working to get into game shape is really what the idea was. We have never really did two of these before where you run it just like a game but opening up I wanted to make sure we were in game shape and good condition. I feel that we are in good condition and that should help us and carry over and the players did a good job with it so I was excited. I am looking forward to a normal game week where we get to go through our preparation, work hard in the meeting room, work hard out on the field, really understanding all the situations of the game and focusing in on that aspect of it. I think we have had a good week of practices as far as special teams has gone so I am excited to see that. We should be a good cover team with our speed and experience there and our guys have been kicking and punting the ball well so I am excited about that too. We will release a two-deep tomorrow and we are waiting because Auburn is releasing theirs tomorrow so we will do it at the same time. There will be some “ors” in there, obviously at the quarterback spot and a couple of the offensive line spots where there is still competition really so we will see how that plays out as far as the offensive line spots go. I am excited to get started and looking forward to attacking the week. We did come in and practice last night, we brought our players back last night so today will be their normal Monday off. With that I will just open up for questions.”

(On any injuries at the moment)
“No, we are pretty healthy, we are pretty healthy.”

(On Alphonso Carter’s health)
“Well no we haven’t had him yet so I guess he is the one guy. He was out there for a couple of days and he just has a hamstring issue that he has been battling for years now. We have been doing a lot of studies on it trying to figure out if it is his quads are too strong because he is a real physical guy but he hasn’t been able to get over that yet.”

(On whether the quarterbacks have progressed since the beginning of camp)
“Yeah I think they really have. They understand what it is that we are trying to do, they have gotten better at recognizing defenses and seeing what the safeties and linebackers are doing and being on time with the ball. I think that is one thing we have been working hard on is our timing in the passing game and getting the ball out before the receiver is actually open and working on throwing him open.”

(On whether they will play multiple quarterbacks or just play one)
“Yeah there is a possibility we may play more than one, but you would anticipate having one ready to go. I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t play more than one.”

(On whether he will announce a quarterback before Saturday and will the guys know)
“Yeah, I think it is a great suggestion to wait until Saturday but yeah our players will know.”

(On the challenges that Auburn’s defense provides and how to prepare for it)
“Well, watching two types of video, one from what they did at Florida and schematically what we think they will do. They will always do something different so we will have to adjust quickly on the sideline during the game. Then watching Wisconsin, the bowl game and a couple of games from last year and their spring game for working on how to understand their players and understand their talent is on defense, you have to watch twice as much video.”

(On the competition on the offensive line and is anything set position wise)
“There has really been great competition and we have rotated a bunch of guys in on Friday night so they all got looks with the 1’s and worked hard with it. One of our tackle spots, Khalil Hunter and Geron Christian have been competing to see who is going to be the guy there. Pedro (Sibiea) has been playing both guard and center so we have to figure out what the best combination for us there. Kioloa (Mahoni) and Kenny Thomas and Skylar Lacy have been working really hard at one of the other guard spots and getting a lot of work. Then both (Aaron) Epps and Kelby Johnson have been rotating at tackles too. The thing I feel good about is overall our depth is much better, we just have to distinguish who is the best five and which spots.”

(On the things that are important to beat Auburn)
“I think defensively we need to stop the run. They have always done a great job running the football and working hard on the tempo. They go fast so we’ve got to be able to get lined up, get the call and play our technique within the call at a very fast pace so that is what we have been working real hard at. Then when we do force them to throw the ball, we have to put pressure on the young quarterback, give him different looks and make him not exactly see what the coverages will be. Offensively, I think it’s real important to eliminate stupid penalties, you know that we don’t go backwards. As long as you are moving forwards offensively you always have a chance to get first downs, move the sticks and keep them on the field. That is what you try to do, keep their defense on the field and you can’t do that if you are hurting yourself. Then we need to be able to take care of the football, making sure that we don’t turn it over and get some chunk plays. That was the fun thing about last Friday night, our receivers made a lot of what we call chunk plays which are big plays. Whether it was going up and catching balls or running after the catch, they all did a nice job of it and some of the young receivers really showed out so it was fun to see.”

(On the important factors in the quarterback decision)
“Number one is that you have to have a quarterback that is very competitive and one that will make the players around him better. We have got to have one that is reliable, that we can trust and is not unpredictable so we come out there and we know if we see certain things he is going to do what he has been coached to do. Then he has to be accurate, that’s the biggest thing because guys aren’t going to be open so you are going to have to be accurate with the ball and put it on his right earlobe or his left shoulder or his right hip, got to have the ability to throw guys open at times.”

(On whether the quarterback decision is a week-to-week decision or does it change because Auburn is the first game)
“Yeah, it is different than playing some schedules where you have a couple of early games and that is why we had to play these scrimmages as game tempo and work hard on our conditioning, work hard on operating out on the field and the coaches being over on the sideline. That is hard on some of our coaches now, they like to especially early, they like to be out there but I thought it was real important that the players learn how to play on the field without the coaches out there so it certainly has escalated how fast you have to teach guys how to play at game tempo.”

(On whether the quarterback decision is gamesmanship or do you really not know who is going to start)
“I probably have a good idea.”

(On how the secondary has been progressing)
“They have been doing a real nice job on tackling, I think that is one of the areas we should be good at is getting to the football and tackling. We are continuing to work hard on playing the ball in the air, getting the interceptions we had from a year ago, we have done some extra ball drills and things. Chucky Williams had a really nice scrimmage the other night, really did a nice job of recognizing routes and playing the ball in the air and came up with a couple of picks which was great to see. That is the one thing, the production we had from Holliman a year ago you say where is that going to come from, how are we going to get those turnovers and create those types of big plays on defense and to do that you have to catch the ball and that is what he did a great job of, he had great hands and he could play the ball in the air.”

(On whether there is still competition at corner)
“Yeah there is. One of the things about corner is you are going to play more than two corners. So there is going to be competition all the time and you are going to have to have guys that stay fresh and rotate in there and you always play more than two corners.”

(On how important it is to win third down against an up-tempo offense like Auburn)
“The best way to win third down is to win first down. That is where it all starts, be able to put them behind the sticks by stopping the run on first down and keeping them from second and medium, second and short but the getting off the field on third down. That is one of the things up-tempo teams always talk about, if they don’t ever get started by three and outs, it is harder on them so we’ve got to work on getting three and outs. It is going to be a great challenge because they have a really good offensive front, they understand what they want to do in the running game so I think it is going to be important for us to do a really good job of stopping the run on first down and stop the deep play-action throws that they will throw on first down so it is a two-way challenge for us.”

(On measuring progress from year one to year two in the program)
“Yeah it is a little different because we came in with a team that was very heavy senior wise and experience wise and talent wise. All of a sudden 26 of them are gone, so we have a lot of newness particularly on the offensive side of the ball so it is almost like starting over as far as teaching and executing offensively I would say because we have a lot of experience defensively. I really like our talent, I really like the players that we have, it is just how quickly can we get them to operate at the execution that we need. That has been the greatest challenge offensively, there is so much newness there that we have had to kind of go a little slower than we have liked to in year two. Normally in year two you would say, everyone understands what we are doing now, we can take further steps ahead but we are really young offensively.”

(On whether you know what you will get out of the players from fall camp or you won’t know until they step out on the field)
“You kind of have an understanding of where we are at, I would hope we go out and play well, I would like to see us go out and execute.”

(On any other positions that he has truly not made a decision on who will start against Auburn)
“Yeah, a couple of the offensive line spots we still have good competition going on. We have two-a-days in pads and what you do there and we have always done this so it is nothing new to us, is a lot of times you will have three guys working at two positions and they just roll at practice. A guy goes basically eight reps in a row, four as a guard, four as a tackle and the other two guys are rotating in so that is kind of how we practiced all last year because of our depth wise, we only had one guy to backup both guard and tackle. It is nothing new on the offensive line for us but we do have competition going on and like I said I think that is a good thing and it is going to make us better.”

(On whether they need to install a few things about Auburn on the practice field this week)
“Well we have worked hard on Auburn, we have had good preparation on them. Obviously there are a few situations that we still need to cover and we need to hit but for the most part it should be a big review week for us. Really focusing in and even dialing down the game plan a little bit because there were some things last week that we did that we just wanted to look at, see where we are with them so we will hone in on exactly what we want to do.”

(On what kind of qualities a Will Muschamp defense has)
“He does a really great job of is getting them to play fast and physical. I think that is the thing when you watch all of his defenses throughout the year they play with a lot of speed, they play very physical, play with emotion. I think the key to us is to keep them on the field, we have to get first downs and keep them on the field and make them play when they are tired.”

(On the routine for Thursday and Friday to minimize the road issues)
“Yeah we already kind of went through those with the mock game so we did a lot of things last Thursday and Friday and we talked about them all the time. This is what we will be doing next Friday before we leave to go to Atlanta, this is what we will do when we are at the hotel, this is how we are going to conduct pre-game meal so that is what the whole mock game, I am not sure where that term came from but that is what we were trying to do, not just going out on the field and playing like the way we would on the field but how everything leads up to it, how the meetings go, what you are supposed to do in walkthroughs, how you are supposed to go about conducting your business. We rely on the guys who were here a year ago to provide leadership, make sure everyone understands when they walk into that training room what the mood is supposed to be. So that is the good thing about being here a year is that the players do know what we expect of them, they need to expect that from the younger guys and teach them and make sure they learn and know how to do it.”

(On whether you incorporate things from studying a great offensive coach like Gus Malzahn)
“Yeah there are always similarities in what they do and what we do. They have always been a spread offense with run emphasis, they really know how to run the ball out of the spread looks and then being able to throw the ball deep so that is something they have always done a great job of. I would go all the way back to watching Gus’ offense to when he was a high school coach and we tried to recruit his quarterback. We have a good idea of what he has been doing for quite a long time. I coached against him when he was at Tulsa and Auburn both and he does a very good job of teaching his players how to execute.”

(On how excited he is on getting to that opening game)
“I am just smiling because I am kind of tired of answering the same question, I guess that just goes with the territory right. Rocco said let’s get out there and talk all summer long to the press so it seems longer than normal a little bit. Yeah I am just anxious to get going, let’s go play and see where we are at. I am excited at the fact it is a great opening game, we recruit a lot of players out of that area, we will have a great crowd there. I think it will put our players in a huge atmosphere that will help us for the rest of the year. To be able to go down there and play in that type of atmosphere, loud, you know being able to communicate non-verbally, be able to not hear the cadence, it is only going to make us better for the rest of the year.”

(On whether Khalil Hunter is playing tackle and others on the offensive line)
“Yeah he has been working at tackle mostly. Him and Geron (Christian) have been working at tackle, Kelby (Johnson) and (Aaron) Epps have been working at tackle. Most of the other guys have been rotating at guard, Skylar (Lacy) has been working at both guards. Kiola, Kenny, and Skylar, Pedro has been working at both guard and center and I am missing somebody and I can’t think of who I am missing at guard. T.C. (Klusman) has been playing at center, we have 11 guys basically rotating at five spots. Lukayus (McNeil) was who I was missing, he has been playing both guard and tackle but mostly guard lately.”

(On why he moved some of the offensive line guys out to tackle)
“Well just the combination of strength, athletic ability, and how you protect off the edge. We believe Lukayus is going to be a great player but he is still not sure about all his assignments. He has been doing a really good job and I like what I see from him, we just have to get it so somebody can help him on his assignments.

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@UofLSheriff50. Louisville native, University of Louisville Business School Grad c/o 2004. Co-Founder of TheCrunchZone.com

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