April 13, 2004
Quarterback Chris Hurd's status... "Chris Hurd is out right now. He sprained his ankle and sprained two of the fingers on his throwing hand. Right now we are going with Josh Swogger and Alex Brink. It will also give us a chance to work a little more with Mike Reilly."
Naming a No. 1 quarterback... "I'd like to get a No. 1 guy established. If we can't do that we are not opposed to going to two of them. We have three more practices and they are really important. Right now, I would say Swogger is in the lead with Brink second. Going into the offseason, I think it helps to have one guy that is responsible to organize skelly and the workouts. Josh has more experience and has been under fire during the season. He has had to play when it matters. He has that edge."
On how the Crimson & Gray Game will impact the quarterback situation... "The next two practices are more important than the spring game. I look at the spring game as a chance for our first team defense and offense to play on the same side. It's a chance to gain a little team unity as we head into summer workouts."
Testing the quarterbacks... "We are going to run a two-minute drill today, a 10 or 15 minute scrimmage, and put them in some situations where the defense will blitz a lot and see who can make plays."
Using a two-quarterback system... "I don't want to. Teams that I've seen over the years that have done that have had to cut the offense in half. It's tough to get two guys ready to play unless you want to extend practice, and that's against my philosophy."
The developing identity of the team... "Defensively we are going to be young and exciting. Because of some lack of strength we are going to move a lot more and slant. We will have some pressure with linebackers. It will be similar to what people saw in the Holiday Bowl. They will be fun to watch. Offensively I think we will be able to run the ball more. Both of our running backs (Chris Bruhn and Allen Thompson) have had an outstanding spring. Our offensive line is big and strong. We are a little nicked up right now, but if we can get everybody back and healthy, and keep them healthy, we have enough bulk there to get a good push. It's hard to evaluate the passing game right now because two or three of our starters are out right now. This summer is going to be very, very important to the success of this football team."
Concerns... "We're inexperienced at one of our corner spots. One of our defensive tackle positions concerns me. We have four or five guys fighting for that spot so there is some competition. That's a good thing. Maybe they won't be as good as Tai Tupai and Jeremey Williams, but I think they will continue to improve as the year goes on."
Leaders... "Troy Bienemann does a nice job. He's a guy that our team respects. Sam Lightbody has been a little more vocal. Josh Swogger is a guy that the kids look up to. Defensively, Will Derting is starting to assert himself more and be a positive influence on the field. Hamza Abdullah was an awesome guy. He is a great leader out there. He gets excited about plays, high-fiving guys and showing a lot of enthusiasm. Don Bartel, our graduate assistant, is doing a great job with the offense getting them in and out of the huddle. He does a great job of helping create tempo. We want to have fun playing football. When that becomes a part of the practice it goes quicker and guys feel better about themselves."
Crimson & Gray Game rules of engagement... "We are going to kickoff and kick return just like a regular game. We are going to cut the quarters down length-wise to probably eight or nine minute running quarters. We kind of have to wait and see how many healthy bodies we have left. The last two minutes we will stop the clock. We will have a short, five or 10 minute break and then get into the second half."
Graham Siderius' progression... "Graham Siderius was a good kickoff guy for us last year. At the beginning of the spring he struggled a little bit, but each week he has shown steady improvement. He can hit it from 60 yards out. He has a great leg and is kicking the ball very, very well. He will be kicking for both sides (Crimson & Gray) this weekend."
Unveiling the offense in the Crimson & Gray Game... "I don't think there are any big secrets. Everybody can look at last year's game film and we aren't going to change things that drastically. It's not knowing what they run, it's knowing when they are going to run it. You have to make the right call at the right time."
Competition at the guard spots... "We have a good battle going. Patrick Afif and Bobby Byrd are both a little dinged up. I don't know if Byrd is going to be able to play Saturday. We have been taking a look at Charles Harris at the other guard spot. Of course, Riley Fitt-Chappell is in there as well, so we will have four guys battling it out in the fall."
Most improved players... "Hamza Abdullah has really improved and done a nice job. Marty Martin has improved a ton. Alex Brink and Mike Reilly have done a nice job at quarterback. Ropati Pitoitua just got here in January and didn't play ball in the fall. He is probably the starter at the other tackle position next to Steve Cook. Steve Dildine has improved a lot on his pass drops and assignments."