News bullets and other items:
Kalis [back] and Funchess were held out of Wednesday's scrimmage
Hoke is looking for guys along the defensive line to separate themselves
Your tentative starting offensive line (after Glasgow returns from suspension) is Mason Cole-LT; Erik Magnuson-LG; Jack Miller-C; Graham Glasgow-RG; Ben Braden-RT
Kalis would likely be a starter if he wasn't injured
Drake Harris' hamstring injury is taking longer to recover than expected
The coaching staff is emphasizing putting the players in stressful, game-like situations
"Thanks for coming. We had a good scrimmage yesterday. Got about 140 plays in. It was about 55 for the ones and twos and about 35 for the threes so it was good. We got a lot of work and a lot of different situations of football, I think, that are important. Really thought that we had a lot of energy. Liked how they approached playing in the Big House. Today we did a lot of trying to – some of those guys, because of GPS and all the tracking, played a game and a half, you know, yesterday. We took today – did a lot of walk-throughs, a lot of meetings, a lot of film done, a lot of teaching from that perspective. Think we're in good shape right now. Held a couple guys out: Kalis we held out, Funchess we held out– gosh, I've got to remember who all we held out. Delano Hill, even though he's coming back right now, with no contact status. He's doing more drill work. And then Drake Harris and Jake Butt but everybody else participated, everybody else got a number of plays so was good for evaluations and, you know, you look at those decisions and you see where you're at and, again, Saturday night obviously we're going to go out again. Obviously probably not the same kind of play count but it will be probably 30-30-20 if you look at it which will end up being 40-40-25 most likely. But to get out and play under the lights a little bit will be a good experience for our guys to be with people there. The one thing that we've really talked about a lot of keeping stress on the players. Because there's some youth in there in a few positions, but just overall because of the mechanics of the offense, the mechanics of the defense, the communication process that we need to make sure we have on every play."
You say you wanted to keep stress on them. What kind of stress?
"Well, you know, I think that's a good question because you can do it with crowd noise, music, making where they've really got to focus in and lock in that they're hearing the calls from the guy next to them. I think in the different situations, you know- you put an offense in third-and-10, third-and-8, there's some stress there to pick up first downs and you put a defense in a situation where you're going heavy fronts, half yard line you put some stress on them that way so that's a lot of it, tempo's a lot of it. You know, I don't know which day it was. What day's today? Today's Thursday? It was Tuesday we wanted to get a little tempo for both sides of it. We were going to run what we call racks of 4-4-4 for each group and ended up instead of 12 plays it was a 44 play segment because we wanted to keep the stress on them and the tempo, Get them tired. See how they play tired, see how they think at the same time we had music – we were in Glick that day and in Glick the music can be pretty loud."
Couple things. Drake Harris- how concerned are you about that injury now at this point?
"Well, you know, obviously would like to have back. Obviously it's going probably longer than he wants and we want. I think he's getting closer to getting back out on the field we just have to keep working through it, rehabbing through it. It's not the same hamstring that he heard before and what happens with guys – and this is some of the data that I think is pretty interesting. We're getting in to GPS monitoring and what all that does and believe me, I'm not the expert. There's guys, Aaron Wellman's one of those...how much is a guy, from a symmetry standpoint, pushing off one leg than the other? Monitors all that and guys like Jake Butt, you know, he's using his other leg a lot more than he is but those numbers are coming down where he's getting a little more balance which is part of good news for him and for us. So I think for Drake's case, because he had the one, I think fatigue and some of those things because kids want to compete and that's the thing you love- that part of it and how it effects the other one."
And could you talk about how the defensive line's coming together?
"Yeah. I think as a group they're coming together pretty good. I think this thing that we're looking for, you know, because we've got- Frank has had a good fall camp, Brennen Beyer's had a real good fall camp, inside I think Willie Henry and Chris Wormley have had good fall camps. I think Matt Godin's a good player, then Willie Henry, Bryan Mone, Ryan Glasgow and [Maurice] Hurst have all- they're competing like heck out there, which is great. What I'm really looking for is some separation. You know, they're all talented and have some attributes that are all positive but we've got to look for a little more separation."
You mentioned Delano Hill coming back and participating in some drills. How close is he to participating in contact drills and how is the competition going at safety until he gets back?
"Well, I think that Dymonte Thomas has been competing with Jarrod [Wilson] and Jeremy Clark. I would say when Delano gets back that's another talented athlete that we'll be excited about. How much longer? You know, it could be three weeks, it could be two weeks. I can't really tell you. That's a doctor's deal and, you know, I think we're happy with where he is right now as far as the recovery and how the surgery went and all that but we'll see."
[After THE JUMP: piecing together an offensive line and the competition at linebacker and corner]
You said earlier today that Ben Braden's in a good spot at right tackle. Do you have anybody else in position to start or close to winning a job at this point?
"Well, I think Ben, like I said- I think Ben has really come along this fall. It's kind of all clicked for him and that's really exciting. I think Jack has had a really productive fall camp, Jack Miller, at center. I think the guard positions, Magnuson has been really playing a lot at left. He is a guy we're working more at left and Mason [Cole] at left tackle to be honest with you right now. They'll slip once in a while [and] Davd Dawson will come in. You know, Kyle Bosch. I think Graham [Glasgow] we're going to miss for the first game but he's had a good fall so far."
So if you went into it today would Mason [Cole] and Erik [Magnuson] be the left side of the line? Mason at tackle and Erik at guard?
"I would say yeah. That's how we'd go into it."
Mason- you've talked about him being different. What exactly has he done to earn it?
"Consistent. Every day comes out. Smart. Ends well."
Physically he's ready for that?
"Well, I think he's more ready than, you know, most freshmen are."
When you talk about looking for that separation on the defensive line, is that something that if it goes into the season so be it or would that be kind of alarming if it's not kind of settled?
"Well, I don't think anything's alarming, I think we've got some really quality, good guys from the standpoint of the skill sets that they have. I think we'd just like to see somebody separate from the rest of the group."
What's wrong with [Kyle] Kalis?
"He's just got a little bit of a back [injury]."
It's not long-term?
"Shouldn't be. In fact, the last two days we've just kind of taken it, you know, easy with him. He was having a pretty good camp when we stated and we'd love to get him back."
Linebackers- James Ross and [Desmond] Morgan obviously have a lot of experience so is this a situation where they have a lead on other guys or are those positions still wide open?
"I would tell you that James is really- him and Royce Jenkins-Stone, and that's a tribute I think a lot to Royce, Royce had a very good spring coming out of spring. James Ross recognized that and has played very well so far this fall, so they're competing and it's a really good competition. I think Desmond, Joe Bolden and Jake [Ryan] inside and Ben Gedeon, Mike McCray- Mike McCray really had a good scrimmage in a lot of things he did yesterday afternoon so you look at the three guys who have a lot of experience, all three of them may not be your starters."
Is Jake in there?
"Well, I think Jake's probably as solid as anybody."
How did you think the running game went yesterday in the scrimmage?
"Pretty good at times. Really pretty good at times. Overall, we started a little slow offensively but then I thought we started putting things together. You know, I was pleased with the protection because Greg [Mattison] gave them some five man, six man things. Excited about some of the running game and how guys- you know, I think Drake Johnson showed what he's made of, which is real positive. Derrick [Green] had a good day when you look at his numbers and DeVeon-DeVeon probably started slower than we would've liked. He's such a prideful guy and a tough guy that it bothered him so he went out to prove something."
Do you know how many fans have registered for the Saturday practice?
Is there one thing you would identify that you really want to accomplish in that practice?
"Yeah. I want us to play well, number one. I want us to handle the environment because for some of those guys, let's revert back to Mason Cole, this will be a little bit different environment. We're going to put as much stress on them as we can. So, the execution, the communication, the physicalness with which we play. That's what we'll be looking for."
Can you talk about the progress of the corners in the past week, since we asked you on Sunday?
"Yeah. I think the one thing is Ray [Taylor] has been pretty solid for us. I think Blake [Countess] has come back from a little bit of a groin [injury] he had early in camp and [is] making progress. Jourdan Lewis is still showing up every time. Jabrill [Peppers] at the nickel has done a nice job and so has Delonte Hollowell so when you look at it, we, uh- Jabrill moved out to some corner today. He's kind of got his feet wet and knowing what's going on at the nickel position and [Channing] Stribling's improved. I think all of them have really improved from a fundamental standpoint so it's competitive."
If Kalis was healthy, I mean, you had Glasgow in there, would he be...
"From the point that we were before he got hurt yeah, there's no question."
So Glasgow or Miller at center then?
"It could [be]. I can't play them both."
Well, I know, but which one has the edge there?
"Right now Jack Miller does."
With Cole you've mentioned several times it's his high school program you have to credit. What is so different about his high school preparation?
"I'll- heh. You want me to go back and talk about his high school coach or why he's ahead?"
Why is he ahead?
"I think as much as anything I still think it's the person inside. He's smart, he works really hard, he doesn't back down from anything or anybody."
You guys made a point about freshmen linemen, though, being-
"Right. There's no question, believe me."
...you need a redshirt year.
"Well, who knows what will happen. You ask me today, yeah, he would start. Now, we're not at August 30th yet."
So can I ask you when you're going to vote on captains?
"We've got a lot of great leaders on this team."
So you're not going to vote on captains?
That's not a possibility.
"It's always a possibility."