Rich Rod and a couple of the team's stars in the trenches met with the media today.
Rodriguez on Team stuff
Winged helmets - That's a team thing. It's usually more involved than 'is a guy out of shape?' It's more has he earned the wings?"In order to run out the tunnel on the fourth, everyone has to earn the wings. "You've got to appreciate the privilege you have to play here." Rodriguez expects everyone will meet the challenge.
Attention to detail good - guys done a good job picking up concepts. Pleased with special teams, and they're doing a couple new things schematically that he likes.
Had a couple really warm days. Need that to get guys in shape. Only had one 2-a-day so far.
Execution has been just OK offensively. Don't want any bad snaps or bad decisions. Defense - "Particularly because we've got a lot of our defensive package already in installed. I've been pleased with their mental part."
Number 1 jersey. hasn't been discussed in about two years. "It's not retired, but it's semi-retired at the moment."
They'll taper second-team reps about 8 or 9 days before the UConn game. Travel squad guys will get more reps at that point than those who are unlikely to play. That situation could change daily. More questions about the lineup are not a problem as long as it means there are more guys who can play.
Rodriguez on Personnel
QBs - "Wide open." They aren't consistent all the time. Hope we have enough confidence to play all three. Couldn't see it right now, because all three aren't playing to a high level. All three should get there before UConn.
RBs - "One guys stands out one day, today it was somebody else. It's probably as wide open as any position." With a couple physical practices this week, they'll have 2-3 guys hopefully.
Koger on the Mackey watchlist - "He's played quite a bit." Rodriguez puts no stock into preseason award watch lists. "If it helps motivate him to have a great year, that's great." Both Koger and Webb should have good years.
Stonum - returning and being a featured receiver. "He's had an outstanding camp so far." He, Martavious Odoms, and Terrance Robinson should be the top returners. "We expect a lot of Roy" Roundtree. He's in great shape.
Level of play has to get better on the offensive line. Experience doesn't necessarily mean you got better. So far, it's solid but not nearly good enough. It sounds like Dorrestein and Huyge have probably held off the younger guys so far, but "I couldn't tell you right now the depth chart" They're in great shape. Omameh: "Best I've seen him look" He and Schilling are good for a top pair of guards.
Freshman safeties have impressed. They've still had classes, etc. Anxious to see what they do once classes end and they can focus on football.
Will Hagerup has been really good. Today our kickers did a nice job. We haven't always been kicking field goals well. Hagerup tried some kickoffs, but is probably not in the mix for that. All kickers equal - Gibbons, Meram, and Broekhuizen.
Most experienced part of team. "I wouldn't say we're the most ahead..." in terms of schemes, but probably have the most leadership.
It's huge having Molk back. Not too deep at center. His return brings depth, experience, leadership.
RT - Who's looked good so far? Perry Dorrestein, Huyge, and Schofield are about even. Everybody's working and improving. Fair game, would be confident in any one of the three. LT Lewan competing with Huyge. That's wide open too. Both want it, both working hard. Tackle battles don't affect what he does - your technique doesn't change with who comes in.
Chemistry on interior is pretty good. Omameh had never played guard next to Molk until this fall. Right off the bat, things were clicking, working together all summer. "My knowledge has improved," talking with other interior OL, Molk and Schilling.
Patrick had never practiced at guard before his first start there last year. Not too much different, but little things you have to be aware of compared to tackle. "The guys were pretty big" when he came in last season. Played only tackle before, the tackles were tougher to block.
Denard - His knowledge of what we're trying to do has progressed. He still has the speed, quickness, etc. Combine it, and he's a lot more dangerous than he was.
RBs - everybody's had an impressive day or play. Excited to see what they'll do once the season hits. Vincent Smith coming back adds depth and experience. He's elusive, and it's great to have him back. He doesn't seem to be affected by the injury at all.
Maintaining 298-300 weight, even with heat. Was 251 pounds when he got here. Worked with Barwis. Made huge gains in strength, weight is just coming on. Only way he can tell he's heavier is the scale - still moves like he did before. Strength is evident when he's blocking.
Feel really good health-wise. "Feel really good, strong." Able to catch up strengthwise and get in shape during spring. "I was affected last year" by the injury. It became a mental game, and he tried to just not think about it. Put on pads and play.
D-Line - Those guys are doing a really good job. Everyone's stepping up. GB, RVB making plays. Getting to QBs and rushing the pass. WC, Sagesse, Patterson - adding depth, we can count on them. Adam Patterson is a senior, this is his year. We have a lot of depth with guys stepping up. Won't have a dropoff if someone goes out.
Will Campbell is camp roomies with Martin. The coaches might have put them together so Martin could try to pull him along, and Will's responding well. He's in good shape - but football shape is different than just going out and running sprints.
"Pat's skill as a pass blocker has really improved." Only faces him in certain rush schemes. Usually goes against Molk and centers in drills.
Molk and Martin are in in groups with Barwis. Always a competition on field, in weight room. Trying to beat each other's weights, always pushing each other. "It's back and forth. I like to say I win." Molk - Tough, he's the anchor, pulls everyone together. Doesn't talk much, but doesn't need to. We battle every day, making each other better.
Dealing with Brandon Graham's departure, there are many different ways to get to the QB. Several different guys contributing to pass rush. Good things with Roh, Van Bergen, Banks, doing a great job.
Why will this team be diff than last year - "we had stars then, showed up every game," this year there are more guys that can be counted on. Everyone's coming together.
Camp is fun when we do situational stuff - real football. Not so much the drills that get repetitive.