Want to know what happens when you just don’t have time, but there are a handful of these press conferences happening? Well, you get them all at one time. This goes back all the way to March 31st I think, at least that’s what I’m throwing out there as needed to be transcribed. This is probably a bit sloppier than normal, but it’s also close to 3,000 words of content.
The spring game is in a week!
Here we go.
Xavier White’s status hasn’t changed, still limited, he’s progressed into individual drills. SaRodorick Thompson hurt his shoulder and was held out of precaution today.
Better day for the offense, they came back and responded. The defense had the better day yesterday. Tyler Shough threw some nice balls, completed long passes today. Behren Morton was sharp. Henry Colombi continues to be consistent. Maverick McIvor has had his moments, but he needs more of them. Not one of the better days for Donovan, but he had a good day yesterday and Saturday. As is the case with true freshmen, some days are better than others. Sonny is putting in a lot of offense, cadence, code words, those older guys are able to say to themselves as ‘same as” and Behren and Donovan are still earning it, those young guys have a very bright future. Today was a good day for the quarterbacks.
I probably have a better idea after Friday night’s scrimmage. Your 1 defense has had some really good moments in the crossover competition, even with Riko Jeffers being out, I think our #1 defense has progressed. Our offensive line was better today. I’ll know more, sometimes practice is tough to tell you after today. I’m pleased with where we are at, we have a ton of work, we are better than we were last year, and know that this needs to equate to more wins, that’s why I’m late, players working with coaches, intricate stuff within the game, trying to hone their craft, a lot of football junkies, had a coach out there today, we’ve come a long ways, but understand we have a ton of work to go.
Kosi Eldridge is very versatile and smart, playing spur but could play any linebacker spots, he’s had a great offseason, very smart, tremendous young man.
I think our expectations, it is time for him to take off and be a factor in this league. Tyree got to us in August, he played himself into shape, had to sit out for Covid reasons, during the season we needed him, he had a great offseason, I expect him to have a really good year.
Work in progress, we’re not game planning the defense by any means, there is a lot of offense going in every day, Friday night is the first time that Sonny Cumbie didn’t install something, so to be able to step back on offense and get good at something, we’re going to continue to install volume, will start creating game plans and directions around what we do, are we a gap team, stretch team, RPO team, have a lot of offense in right now, our guys, receivers and quarterbacks have handled it well.
I would put two things at the top, leadership and accuracy, accuracy over arm strength, leadership, the vibe, how the players are around him and move the ball down the field.
Making tentative plans, camp schedules, official visits, anticipating it to happen, if it doesn’t happen, we’ll do what we did last June, which isn’t fun, we are moving forward with scheduling, camps, specific visits and getting ready to go.
Jessiah Pierre [I think] got a foot injury, don’t see anything long-term, he’s on a scooter, not weight bearing, he’ll be a full go in June.
Yeah, I’ve been around 2 guys where every time they touch the ball, Ashlyn Davis at Tulsa was electric, we had 6 straight weeks of touchdowns, he was a legit threat, if you have that guy you want him back there. Savon Scarver [sp?] at Utah State, he was elite and electric, we created kickoff returns, we’d put those guys in the middle of the end zone and roll forward, if you have a guy like that you can take more risks, the better the offense is the more risks you take, that was the case in 2018 at Utah State, when you don’t have that guy you want ball security and start at the 25. At kick returner, Chux, and Adrian, Myles Price has a chance to be electric if he can catch the ball, Jojo Natsun [sp?] at Utah state could win the game on his own, you figure out ways to get him the ball. Do we have that returner, will tell you after camp. It is player driven.
We’ll have 3 open field driving with 2 units of offense and defense and have a backed up segment, have a high red zone and low red zone and special teams in there, have special teams more in practice situations.
Probably a little over 100 plays.
I think it has been a great camp, a lot of individual improvement, last couple of months sitting down and seeing what these guys need to improve at, need to attack and play faster. Seeing how they fit in the new offense. It is a very talented group, if you take the slot receivers, guys have quality experience, Myles Price played last year, has great change of direction, Dalton Rigdon can flat out run by you, and the guy that is having a great camp is McLane Mannix, he’s had a huge improvement, had injuries, busted his tail this offseason and really improved his game.
The tight end group is deep, we expect Travis Koontz to go to the next level, need him to be consistent, there’s nothing he can’t do, the biggest challenge with him is to play consistently, he’s learning the ins and outs of the offense, he’s spending a lot of time watching tape. John Holcomb, I have had not had many freshmen that played for me and been as productive as he was, John was a guy on special teams, he’s improved his games. It’s hard to play at 225 pounds, he’s a high motor guy, he’s improved his game. Jason Lloyd is a junior college transfer who is in the mix, Henry Teeter is there. Mason Tharp and Jed Castles are guys that should be preparing for prom and they couldn’t get to Texas Tech fast enough, we absolutely hit on those two, they come to work every day and both play really hard.
I think we’re going to be able to use these guys more, the thing that Cumbie has harped on, they have to be able to make contested catches, they aren’t always going to be wide open, these quarterbacks can trust the tight end and go out and make a contested catch and let him go attack it, let him be big, use those weapons, really try to focus like tight ends, then look 250 and try to strike fear into those safeties.
I think as a quarterback, the tight end needs to be a guy they count on, it is fun to watch this quarterback battle, it’s fun to watch them spin it, the quarterbacks are going to find guys they are comfortable with, maybe they see man coverage, see who they trust and try to drill in their heads and be the guy when the quarterback has options, saying that you want to be that guy and earning that trust.
They’ve done a nice job, they have the length, both of those two guys run very well, catch the ball very well and bend very well, so if you can do those things, I trust David Scholz, if I can get that guy to Dave, then great things happen. They both have big frames that carry that weight, would like to get them to 240, as long as they keep their speed. Excited to see their development. They trust us and can tell by how they work, it’s hard to play tight end and block, they trust what they are telling them, they’ve got a fight in them.
If you look at Koontz, if you look last year, he can be dominant blocking a head-up defensive end in this league, he’s one of the few guys that feels comfortable with a 290 pound defensive end looking at him and he likes that challenge, he needs to be blocking better in space, we’ve gotten better at that, those slots are going to get after it too, they are going to take a shot, they are going to move their feet and finish. If you don’t have an edge and play nasty, it’s going to be a tough day.
We’ve done a little bit of everything, still in 11 most of the time, can do 10, play with 4 wide, do some 12 and I think we saw 3 of them out there today. The neat thing with this offense is that it can go a bunch of directions, trying to figure out who is the best and who will fit in the run game as well.
We got really thin, it hurt, and a guy that stepped up was Xavier White, would play a few snaps for us, but Rigdon, when he was hurt, we lost his speed and energy, people feed off his enthusiasm, he’s fun to be around, when you go on the road you missed his juice, we had to have guys step up around him, but it is also his attitude.
As a coach it is an awesome feeling to have them all back, it is also great because they are a great group of guys wo have an an understanding of what we are trying to do. We are going to coach them every rep, it gives you confidence, you keep working them. With the veterans, it gives you a better opportunity.
I don’t like to single out one guy, but one guy who is really stepping up is Colin Schooler, he’s taken his game to a new level. Krishon Merriweather is becoming more instinctive. Brandon Bouyer-Randle’s improvement from last year. Each and every guy has improved certain techniques, need to continue to refine their games.
I think we take great pride, when you talk about linebackers, it is the hart of the defense, have to have communication with the front and back, take great pride in that position.
Kosi Eldridge is paying our spur, is really a unique individual, he can wear a lot of hats, we’ll count on run downs, and also move back inside on third downs. A lot of athletic ability and wears a lot of hats.
We’re all very excited about Jesiah Pierre, he picks up things really well, it’s a shame he hurt his foot a bit, he’ll be fine and pick up right where he left off, he plays hard, is instinctive and loves to run.
Ty Matthews, he’s really made the biggest step, very pleased with his progress, very instinctive. Has taken the biggesT step. Bryce Robinson is starting to make a bit of a move, working with Derrick Lewis each day. Ty is the middle linebacker.
Middle: Merriweather, Ty, and also Pat Curley, he’s taken a new step and having the best spring, much better, playing better, continued to get better. He’s playing middle and Sam. Really proud of him, stepped up his game and attitude, he’s doing a lot of great things.
Colin, Morganstern, earlier we had Kosi, now Curley.
Riko Jeffers is a special individual, he’ll play a couple of positions, will be playing both Mike and Will, take it one day of a time, he’s had an unbelievable attitude, he’s done a lot of good things for us.
The strength, a talented group, the group goes hard. They play hard and physical and are eager to make plays.
Erik Ezukanma needs to continue the course, for him, he needs to stay the course and not do more than what he needs to do, keep leading the young guys.
Myles Price and Loic Fouonji, really everyone is young, Trey Cleveland has come along, Jerand Bradley is doing good things, J.J. Sparkman is making plays. Dalton Rigdon and McLane Mannix, the ball is finding a lot of guys, including Sterling Galban.
I’ve got a type, strong and twitchy.
Any time you have a situation with a team, you’ve got a lot of guys who can perform, the sky is the limit because guys are playing for an opportunity.
Culture of football has changed, a bit of free agency, stay the course, I stay in contact with the guys that let. We’re going to stay together, we’re thinking about ourselves the whole time.
He’s inside, but he’s showed out this spring, he’s finally healthy.
Trey Cleveland has done really good things, he’s still really young, this year he’ll have a big opportunity to win the job, he’s played fast, he’s a guy that we think we can rely on, so far this spring he’s done a good job.
With Sonny Cumbie he’s moved all around, it’s been good for everyone and finding matchups to expose the defense, going inside and outside, it’s been fun to see.
Fouonji is a strong kid and he’s got a huge upside, he takes coaching, puts a lot of pressure on himself, have to tell him to relax, see things that work and don’t work. He’s so explosive and strong, just has to slow down.
My parents would not let me hit the transfer portal, in staying you overcome and you get better. Certain situations it’s okay for the kid to leave, but the most disappointing is that it allows a kid to quit. You never know why a kid hits that portal.
I got no game left and neither does Sonny, maybe we can get the quarterbacks and receivers to recreate it out here.
We try to keep it lowkey, it is their time to shine, when we speak they believe us. It’s always cool, Aaron Rogers was the MVP last season and playing at a high level, for me I was trying to find my way and it was Sonny’s last game, it was a great atmosphere, it was a game I’ll never forget.
I think offense is offense, things do change with the quarterbacks, new group of guys and try to get on the same page as the quarterback, transition and out skill positions stay as a whole.
Sometimes you forget Bradley is a freshman, the first half of the spring he’s done a phenomenal job. Technique wise he is getting better the sky is the limit with that kid. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to show what we can do.
I think the time is as long as it needs to take, try to gain that trust, obviously you have to make plays for your quarterback, if he trusted you, you have to make the play. Always working, always attack defenses.
I think defending the run, have done a great job of lowering pad level and being explosive, and disengaging off of blocks and making plays, and the leaders, Tony Bradford, Nelson Mbanasor, pass rush was one area we needed to improve upon, they’ve taken it upon themselves to improve on fundamentals this spring.
Mbanasor is always fired up and ready to go, Nelson is the energy for the group, he’s accepted htat role of being the leader to get the guys to do extra.
LB Moore has gotten better, Philip Blidi is bigger about 295 very explosive, LB Moore has done a heck of job, really grown, probably put on 25 pounds and really improved this spring.
Tyree Wilson has had a lot of growth, was an outside linebacker his entire line, not really a defensive end type of body, he can play every position across the front, understanding the intricacies of being a defensive lineman, has had a heck of an offseason improving those areas.
I’ve got them all back except for Eli, trying to get them to understand the maturity, Nelson is going to be a senior, Tony and Jaylon is out 4 years, just let them know that they aren’t pups, they are the grown men we need them to be to be successful in this league.
Blidi is progressing is probably up to 15 to 20 plays, I think he’ll be at that 30 snap spot.
LB will be a lot like Nelson, explosive, more of a 5 technique, can play head up if he grows into his hands and feet, he’s going to be a big unit. He’s going to be a lot like Mbanasor by the time Scholz gets done with him.
Devin Drew has been progressing, he really started coming on at the end of the season, we told him last spring that was supposed to be his development time, now this spring he’s really had a good spring, he’s bigger, stronger, and faster and done a good job this spring.
Jaylon Hutchings is explosive, he was a high school running back, explosiveness he has in him, we tweaked his stance, he’s been a handful for us, in terms of leadership, he doesn’t talk a lot, but he has experience also.
Tony is full grown and he really has, been a difference moving from the edge to inside he’s powerful naturally, quick and explosive, he’ has that inside and has done a phenomenal job this spring of adjusting and playing inside and outside.
Troy Te’o still progressing like we are asking him too, he’s done a really nice job this spring and playing bigger inside, his pass rushing ability has been on point and that’s one of his strong suits.
/talks about his Covid experience, talked about how Eli Howard helped coach and helped with the rotation before a game as Randolph was diagnosed the Friday before a game/