- Derrick Green and Brennen Beyer have returned to practice. Green is a full go while Beyer is still limited.
- The team will scrimmage at the Big House on Saturday.
- A lot of position battles will be settled next week.
"This is the 12th practice. We've really practiced pretty well most days. I think yesterday we didn't practice as well as we'd like to have. But I thought they came out -- we had good walkthroughs in the morning. We really did a nice job competing this afternoon. You know, you're trying to still put all the pieces together. Great competition at a lot of positions. That hasn't changed. We'll go about another week and then we'll start really game planning for central. We'll make some key decisions probably Sunday, Monday, Tuesday with where we want to be. A little more scrimmage situation on Saturday so that we can get a lot of guys in high pressure situations."
Have you had a scrimmage yet?
"No. We have not."
Saturday's the first?
What do you hope to get out of that? How quickly do you want to see guys start to separate themselves?
"Well you want to see that, and you want to see guys separate themselves when the pressure is on. I think that's a big thing. 61 of the 85 guys are first or second-year players. There's a lot of guys who haven't played football in front of 114,000. How they react in different pressure situations, we want to try and get them in as many of those as we can."
Status of Brennen Beyer and Derrick Green?
"Derrick practiced full, and Beyer's practicing a lot of stuff. He's not doing some of the -- he's doing all the contact work in a supervised situation. We're not throwing him out there when we're going 11 on 11 yet. But we're probably being a little more careful than anything else with his hamstring."
Will they both be full go for Saturday's scrimmage?
"Yeah. I would think so."
James Ross had a really good spring. What has he done to separate himself?
"Well James is a smart football player, and he's got pretty good instincts. It's funny you ask because we thought that there's more that we can get out of him, so we're putting a lot of that pressure, a lot of challenge to him to do a little better job getting off blocks. There's times when you don't need to take on the block, so just making the football itself the issue."
What do you mean by trying to get more out of him?
"[Being a] full time starter. I think that's important. I think from the standpoint of leadership, communication, on the field. I think all those things are a big part of it."
Was Ross more of a reaction player last year? Are you trying to get him to understand what's happening better rather than just relying on instinct?
"I think we're doing that with all of them. Educate them in the game of football and why you call certain things. Where's the strength to a certain defense. Down and distance, backfield and such, tight end splits, all those things."
How much can you tell about the defensive line's ability to put pressure on the ball?
"Well, I think some of the game work that coach Mattison's done with them and the pass rush stuff that he's really done a great job with them, teaching the techniques. You see that coming. You know, there's some guys that obviously have some very good ability who have been very good pass rushers, but as a whole I think there's a lot of improvement."
Is it difficult to tell because they can't go live on the quarterback at all?
"Heh. Yeah. I don't know if it's difficult, but you'd like to have some opportunities for them to finish the drill, finish whatever you're doing."
Are you still standing in the pocket during drills?
"No. No. I don't think I'll make it this year."
You said you'd start making personnel decisions this Sunday. Are things starting to shake out though?
"I don't know. I think there's some guys who are making some strides, but they may be pretty good one practice and the next practice the other guy makes a little bit of a move, so personally I think when we get a little more pressure situations in scrimmages we'll find out a little more."
What gives you the confidence that Frank Clark will take the next step in his pass rush when there isn't as much experience around him on the D-line?
"He's the experienced guy now. He's the guy who's played a good deal of snaps. I think Quinton played 440-some snaps a year ago. With experience, you get a little wiser on what you want to do. I think just the sense from the spring how hard we've worked at it."
Brian Cleary vs. Shane Morris?
"Well, we gave a lot of snaps to Shane today. We think he's made some strides and like what he's doing. But again, after we get them to the stadium, scrimmage a little bit, put some pressure on them, I think we'll know a little more."
Will you give those two more snaps during the scrimmage?
"We'll go enough snaps where they'll get enough."
Does that mean Morris is pulling ahead?
"No, I think he's making strides. We've kind of featured guys a little bit certain days in some of the drills we're doing. I think he has made some strides, but at the same time it's kind of how we're going into it."
How do you put pressure on the QBs when they don't feel the pass rush?
"Well, they feel it. Believe me. They feel it. We do team skelly, which is half the line rushing and protecting, and it helps them with the timing. Guys will run right by them and do a good job swatting them on their butt or whatever to let them know that they're there."
Last year you awarded scholarships to seven walk-ons. This year you only have one spot. Have you determined who that is yet?
"Not yet. Not yet. There's some guys who obviously I'd like to have more because there's some guys who really have done a nice job leadership wise, work ethic, all those things. But like you said, you got one."
How do you decide between someone like Jareth Glanda, who's clearly starting but will only play maybe 10-15 snaps a game vs. a guy like Graham Glasgow?
"Well it's just a gut decision that you make. Try and make it as fair as you can."
When will they vote on captains?
"They will vote in two weeks."
Besides Green and Beyer, anyone else miss practice?
"Nope. Just Jake [Ryan]. Um ... yeah."
Taco Charlton? [Ed: The reporter is referring to Taco's ominous tweet about "trying hard to get healthy."]
"Taco's out there, yeah."
Have you been able to see anything from Green since his return?
"Yeah. I mean, he's done some things. He came back probably a little earlier than he should have. He wanted to play and he showed a couple flashes a couple days ago."
Is he carrying his weight like you thought he would?
"Yeah, yeah. All the freshmen, they'll get leaner and they'll get faster and they'll get in better shape. They'll eat better. All those things."
With Brennen out, how important is accelerating Allen Gant's development?
"That's been very important for us, and Allen's done a nice job. I think the progression that Cam took is kind of what Allen's taking right now. Some things on the line of scrimmage, he's got to get a lot better at. Fundamentally, technique, in space. He's got a pretty good feel for route concepts and those kind of things. I think he's doing a nice job. Is he where we want him to be yet? No, but he's making progress."
Last couple days, what have you seen from Amara Darboh?
"Yeah, Amara through fall camp, we all think he's shown some great concentration, really good with his hands. You know, route running and timing is always going to be important. Conversion of routes. That's a big part of it, but we're pleased with how he's coming along."
There's such a strong connection between Devin Gardner and Jeremy Gallon. Is Jeremy much further ahead of everyone else because of that this fall?
"I think there's a comfort level there and I think when you run certain protections for certain plays you're going to try and take advantage of what the defense is giving you. We'll put him in those situations. You want to put your playmakers in a position to make plays."
Are you able to work with the return game a bit, and how are Wile and Gibbons?
"Gibbons I think is doing a really good job. Wile made a 52, 53-yarder at the end of the 2-minute [drill]. Wile has been punting pretty good. Him and Kenny Allen. We've got some returners. I think that's what you're talking about. There's some guys we're still evaluating. Some of the freshmen finished Tuesday with school, so they're getting some real live looks now."
How many starting positions do you think you can determine right now?
"Starters? I'm better with who's competing right now. I think there's three on the offensive line that guys are competing for. The defensive line -- the strong end has good competition. The safeties a little bit are competing. I think we have pretty good competition."