Aug. 11, 2008
"You would hope to be farther along than what we are. You always think that. After watching all the practice film over the last few days and our scrimmage, I think we've made a lot of progress. There is a good possibility we could have a good football team but a lot of things have to fall in place. You need to stay away from the injury bug as we found out pretty early losing a guy like Aairon Savage. It throws you in a tailspin trying to find who can play and who will step up. That's probably thrown in into a situation where we'll have to look a little harder at some of the true freshmen coming in. That will work itself out. I remember a few years ago we moved Tre Smith from running back to the secondary just trying to find someone we felt had some experience. We won't do that. We won't move anybody over. We feel like the freshmen are moving along pretty well and as a group we can fill that void. It's hard to fill a void when you lose experience like that.
"Overall, our camp has gone well. The weather has cooperated. We've gotten a lot more done since the weather has been nice, other than the first couple of days where it was almost unbearable. I think the guys came in in good shape and with a good frame of mind. We've got good leadership. It really takes good leadership in a long camp like this one. Overall the guys have worked hard and we've got a chance to get better if we keep working hard and are able to have guys out there consistently. We've even cut practices back in length. We looked at last year and practices were about 25 minutes longer but we've been getting more reps because of the tempo we are going at. We haven't lost anything and knowing that is the reason we cut a little time out.
"Let's talk about the offense first. Kodi (Burns) and Chris (Todd) both are a little tired. They are hanging in there. You need your quarterbacks to step up and show the players around them that they can withstand anything. You need good camaraderie and leadership out of your quarterbacks. Both these guys are good friends. They are competing well. We're going to have to wait a little longer and see how they do in the scrimmage coming up. I thought practice has been a pretty good indicator that both of them are going to be fine quarterbacks. They are able to do different things. They have different strengths but I love their frames of mind out there. They are team players and that's what you have got to have at quarterback.
and Neil Caudle
are fighting it out to be No. 3 and I thought Neil played the best in practice since he's been here. He's throwing the ball better. I don't have any preference there as I told Trotter. The best player is going to be No. 3 and be the guy that travels. We'll continue to work all four of those guys.
"The area that we need to work to get more consistency is in the offensive line. The offensive line is the focal point of anything you do on offense. All it takes is one missed block from one of the five guys and you've got problems. We've looked at different scenarios. We want to have three centers. We're moving people around just trying to find the right combination of the first two groups. We don't have many numbers there. We didn't bring anyone in in terms of a signee. All the guys that are there now have been there and have played the positions they are playing so we've got a little experience coming out of spring practice with most of the guys. It looks good. Again, it's hard to tell in two-a-days about your offensive line. Those are the guys who fatigue pretty quick, especially with the tempo of this offense. The thing we want to make sure we do is have two healthy offensive lines so we can play a lot of players in the first few games of the season. As we go through the season you won't see as much substitution because the tempo really takes something out of those guys.
"I like what Tyronne Green has done. He might be one of the better and quicker athletes we've had on the offensive line in a while. He doesn't say a lot but he's probably one of the most improved players we've had here over the last four or five years.
"Mike Berry will be a utility player for us. Could be a starter or could be a backup at a lot of positions. He has really performed for us.
"Of course, (Lee) Ziemba is Ziemba. He doesn't know how good he could be. He's a tough guy and he wants to learn. Sometimes he gets out of control but I've noticed in two-a-days he is much more patient in his technique.
"The offensive line is coming along. It's harder on them probably than anybody with what they have to do mentally and physically.
"Tommy Trott has made some catches in these two-a-days that he wouldn't have made these last couple of years. He made one of those today. He's going to be a tremendous force in this offense. Gabe McKensie is much improved. Those guys have to be factors for you in this offense where they catch the ball, block and move around in the backfield. We'll use both of those guys in several situations.
"The wide receiver position - wow! We've never had so many guys with opportunities to play. Greg Knox and Steve Ensminger are going to have some decisions to make as we go through this last scrimmage and are getting ready for game time. Darvin Adams has come out, he's learning, he doesn't say a lot but he's been a factor in most practices we've had in terms of running routes like they need to be run. It's good to see young guys perform that well early. There are a lot of guys at the top that have a lot of experience playing in this league. When it all comes down to it, we're going to have to have two groups that can get out there a make very few mental mistakes. It's very important that wide receivers run the right routes, the correct routes, the distance, the speed and be able to understand coverage. It's going to be fun watching these receivers. We're going to have a few playmakers. I think more and more of them are going to step up as we go along.
"Last week, Brad Lester and Ben Tate got some playing time like any scrimmage in the fall for guys who have been with us. You all know me. We're not going to run the running backs too much. They are going to get all they need during the season. We did look at Eric Smith. He had a good day and made some yards. They call him `Little Rudi.' He's a guy the looks just like Rudi Johnson running the ball. He slashes. He can run inside and out. I think the guy who is going to be our ace in the hole, if he can continue to stay healthy, is Tristan Davis. He's really having a good fall camp so far. We just need to get enough practices out of him to where he can get back into playing shape. I'm proud of what he's done and how he's done it.
"We didn't tackle very well in the scrimmage but that's normal when you play an offense like we play in terms of having to make a lot of open-field tackles. It's going to be fun to watch our front seven. I think this could be one of our better ones if we continue to stay healthy. We're starting to build some depth. We've got some young linebackers, even some first- and second-year guys like Adam Herring, that have a chance to play. They are starting to learn and understand this defense. We haven't changed a whole lot. That's helped all the younger players that redshirted last year.
"Our kicking game is up in the air. There's going to be a lot of competition at the punting position. I think that's an area where every day could make a difference. You love competition at that area because it forces you to work on the little things that could make a difference in the conference.
"It's been a good camp. We've still got a dozen practices to go. We're going to get one more scrimmage in a few days after Saturday depending on if our offense or defense feels like they need it. We'll also have some kind of full speed kicking night inside the stadium to try and get some looks at some younger guys to try and get them on special teams."
Q: At this point in camp, guys start talking about hitting a wall. How are you trying to prevent that?
Tuberville: Well, you change it up. Sometimes in the past we have changed it up and done team drills early and do individual last. I think that is the biggest thing that has happened, especially now because you get bored a little bit. We are not going to be a fancy team on offense or on defense. We never have been in terms of what you do in a certain play, you might look different in formation or in personnel on the field. It is a lot of carry-over with what you do. As a head coach and with the coordinators, one thing that you do not want to set in is boredom. I have had teams where we have run sprints at the beginning and so you let them know that we will be running early and working on teamwork and drills after that. It is not rocket science, you just have to get in their heads and know where they are at and figure out what will motivate them so they will put out a little more in practice and you get can a little more execution out of them.
Q: What were some of the most noticeable differences with the new clock rules during the scrimmage?
Tuberville: There really were not any. I think the officials had to adjust a couple of times and we brought our guy in. A paid official does not come from the SEC to run a 40-second clock. That comes from your school. You have to hire that person, but an alternate official does run the game clock, so we brought in our guy, someone who has done it for us for years. I think he lives in south Georgia, but he has had to come up and as I talked to him, it is very different. You have to learn hand signals, understand what you are doing, so he is kind of like an official on the field. But that is not going to bother us much because on offense, we are on the line of scrimmage as the ball is getting ready for play. You can see some definite differences for teams that huddle and take their time because you can obviously run a lot of time off the clock. I think the biggest rule change is going to be when the ball goes out of bounds and being brought back in, starting the clock. I think that will be the biggest change in terms of cutting five or six plays out of the game and maybe more than that.
Q: Neil Caudle has done some holding in practice. Is he the kind of guy you like in that kind of position?
Tuberville: What we are going to do is that (Clayton) Crofoot will be our holder .We are trying to work a scenario where we do not have to take another person in the kicking area that is holding so we wanted Neil to be our backup holder, and he will travel. Especially when you play as many freshmen as we will this year. And special teams really cut into your roster especially when you only have seventy people travelling.
Q: How tough is it to rely on young freshman cornerbacks?
Tuberville: They are not freshman after a few games. If they have got enough ability to be here and to get a scholarship, then they can play. And most of them, that is an athletic position, and we have looked and talked about it where we have met a couple of these freshmen who did not do anything right in terms of alignment, footwork or turning, but they make the play. Now, once they learn then all the techniques are going to make them that much better. But the number one thing at corner is that you have got to be able to play there. You have got to have speed, you have got to have quickness, and you have got to be able to break on the ball. And I really like all three guys that we are working right now and the young guys in terms of being able to get that done because we are going to have to play most of them.
Q: How conditioned will the defense be just from having to practice against an offense running spread all the time?
Tuberville: We do not even have to condition much anymore because for the hour and a half that we are out there they are constantly running, especially when you get to the team drills when there is not much standing around. I think it is going to help us, but you also have to watch it. You have to watch for when they start dragging and get tired because when you get fatigued, that is when you start picking up the hamstrings, the quads and the ankles. When people do not move their feet that is when you get rolled up on. It is a concern and I have not let them run them much after practice except for maybe a couple of times. After watching this offense and the tempo on both sides of the ball, we are not going to have any problem being in shape.
Q: How has Tyronne Green changed since his move from defensive tackle?
Tuberville: When you look at most of the guys who we have had, a lot of the time it is the defensive players that are defensive players who have not played much offense who turn into great offensive linemen. Tyronne Green probably could've played defense, but he was borderline because of his weight and he really struggled with that. Because of that, he has got the natural ability to move across the line and move laterally and that really benefits him. He has got a bright future ahead of him, but we did not know whether he would make it so we made the decision to take him from being a good defensive lineman and making him into a great offensive lineman. It really has benefitted him and he is a very physical player who plays low to the ground and has really good leverage and is flexible and he has really done well for us.
Q: How do you prepare the defense for a running offense after they've gone up against this passing offense?
Tuberville: Once we get past Saturday, we will probably start going for thirty minutes a day versus two back. We have chartered all of the games from last year and only about twenty percent of the time are you going to see two back. Most people are one back running zone play or about what we are running. They might have the quarterback right up under the center, but very few people will be running two back: us and Georgia. Georgia is a lot of one back, a lot of shotgun. Sometimes you think that football is a lot of two back, but it is not anymore. You are going to have a lot of change but it is not going to hurt us at all. I like the way we practice and how our offensive line comes off the line. The plays that we are running are basically the plays that we will be seeing a lot of this season whether they are a one or a two back.
Q: Do you think that the fullback will disappear completely or will it come back?
Tuberville: No, I think that there will be a place for it. It might not be a fullback. It might be a big tight end like we are doing. We are going to have Tommy Trott and Gabe McKenzie in the background. We have moved John Douglas, who was our fullback, to our slot position and we are going to move him around and throw the ball to him. I think that what you have probably seen over the years is that every fullback or small tight end is going to have to be more athletic because you are going to ask more of him. But there is a place for a fullback in goal line. If you go back and look at what we have done in the past few years, our fullbacks usually played between twelve and sixteen plays a game, otherwise it was two tailbacks in the game or one back.