Head coach Kliff Kingsbury, linebacker Dakota Allen and receiver Zach Austin were made available for the first press conference of the year (ASAP Sports).
Kingsbury has still not answered the $64,000 question and he won’t do so before Saturday’s game. When asked who would start, Kingsbury said that we’d find out on Saturday, “Y’all will see Saturday (Laughter). He’ll jog out there and we’ll go with him and start there, and then see where it goes. I’ve said all along, all three could end up playing. You’d like to just have one that just takes it and runs with it, but I’m open to whatever’s best for the team.” There’s been speculation that McLane Carter is the likely starter and Kingsbury said that if the team was paying attention that they new who would be the starter:
You never know how much they are paying attention, but I would assume some of them have a pretty good idea.
It was also a bit of a surprise that safety Jah’Shawn Johnson was a game-time decision for Saturday. Johnson has been battling a shoulder injury from the offseason. In his place, Kingsbury said that it would be up to new transfer John Bonney, Vaughnte Dorsey, Quincy Addison and Thomas Leggett to pick up the Johnson’s slack if he’s not able to play:
Yeah, it’s really, you know, between Dorsey, Bonney, Quincy and then Leggett would be kind of those four guys that we would work in there.
We also got to hear Kingsbury discuss two players that we haven’t really heard him discuss. Tight end or B-Back Donta Thompson, “Yeah, he was our most improved player in the spring, voted on by the coaches, playing some tight end stuff, special teams-wise, he can split out and play the Y, as well. He has a versatile role that allows us to do some things and really proud of his development and the perseverance and how far he’s come.”
Also discussed was the maturation of center Paul Stawarz, who Kingsbury seeemed to think that he wouldn’t play much here, but has been improved and learned the offense:
Yeah, he leads in his own way and from day one, setting foot on campus here, I would have said he’s never going to play here. So for him to continue to do what he’s done, continue to get better; learn our offense to where he’s a leader on the offensive line, making all the calls, couldn’t be more proud of his development and how far he’s come.
It should also be noted that freshman receiver KeSean Carter made the two-deep behind Zach Austin and Kingsbury likes his work-ethic and his ability to grasp the playbook, “Yeah, he’s got great football IQ. Any time we put something new in, he picks it up quickly, pays attention. All I heard him say, he’s said two years since he’s been here, “yes, sir,” that’s all I’ll get out of him. He works hard to make sure he learns it, knows it and he’s very, very fast. Really excited about how quickly he’s come along and I think he’ll continue to come along. Having Austin, a sixth-year guy ahead of him has been huge, because he’s seen it all, done it all and knows it inside and out and I think that’s helped his development, as well.”
And to end our quoteboard (please go read all of the pressers if you want to read more) is Kingsbury being asked about his team’s strengths and Kingsbury acknowledged that the skill positions have had the spotlight previously, but it is the lines that have impressed him the most:
Q. Game is just days away, after the long off-season what would you consider the team’s strengths to be? What do you hang your hat on right now?
HEAD COACH KLIFF KINGSBURY: The lines, honestly. The offensive line, all those runners and same with the D-Line. You add Preston and Joe Wallace, who are dynamic players in that front. It’s going to start up front with both those groups. Got to stay healthy and got to continue to get better, but I like where those groups are at.
Q. Better than in years past maybe?
HEAD COACH KLIFF KINGSBURY: Years past, I think offensively is all about skill players running around and making plays, and whether the line was blocking or not, Pat was out there doing his deal; and then you get it to Kiki and Jakeem (ph) guys like that.
So to have an offensive line we feel like we can lean on more, is a positive with the inexperience at quarterback.
Defensive line-wise, we’ve been chasing that for a while trying to have eight to nine to ten bodies to rotate through, playing these tempo offenses, and we feel like we’re at that point. Hopefully that pays off.
I was going to mention one other thing, which was that Zach Austin said that the team has had nearly 5,000 snaps this preseason practice. I was curious as to many snaps per practice that is, and I think that a team is allowed 20 preseason practices and that’s 250 snaps per practice. That’s pretty impressive.