- Boo boo watch: AJ Williams is questionable, Courtney Avery is getting better, but still probably limited.
- It's Akron week. Yawn.
"Practice was pretty good on Tuesday. We've talked about it before, we're putting some wrinkles in, both offensively and defensively, for what you want to do and what you want to try and work on for the future. Some of it always is for that opponent. It was a pretty good practice. A lot of heat, which was good, because we were relatively, during fall camp, it really never got hot. So we got to play in the heat a little bit, and Akron is going to be a high tempo team. They like to get on the ball as quickly as they can. They like to throw the ball around, get on the perimeter of the defense some. From a defensive perspective for them, they're very aggressive. You know, they like to blitz, they like to play zero coverage, they like to play man free. So they'll stack the line of scrimmage a little bit and you have to take advantage of the shots you get."
Is the offensive line at a satisfactory place right now?
"Yeah I think the consistency of how they play is going to be huge. When you feel an offensive line kind of take the game over because your running game and when people do want to try five or six-man blitzes, how they pick those things up and how much time Devin has."
Do you see the potential of this group to do that?
"I think so. I think it's a group of guys who are pretty intelligent. I think from a physical standpoint, they've got some good size and strength that go along with it."
What's your comfort level with Dennis Norfleet returning punts?
"We're pretty comfortable. He's worked since January in catching punts, and then every day we do a little bit of a specialist period, and he doesn't drop many. Once in a while he'll get the ball high and that's what happened the other day. So instead of letting it come all the way in with his elbows in, he got it high and it kind of bounces off. You know, shoulder pads are a little harder than your gut."
He's a guy that's switched positions a couple times. How has he taken to playing slot receiver?
"I think he's learning. It's a process every time he comes out, especially from a formation standpoint. You try and put guys in positions so they can make plays. He's a guy we think is a pretty good playmaker."
He's pretty aggressive on those punt returns. Is it a little high risk, high reward?
"I don't think so. No. I don't think so. Like anything else in life, the more experience something and the more you do something, the better you get at it. I think we can do a better job in some aspects of hold-ups and things that we want to do which would make him probably a little more comfortable at times."
How important is it to get Fitz Toussaint going and how important is it to give reps to the other guys?
"If we can get some experience to some other guys if we're fortunate enough to do that. That would be a real positive. I think Fitz, you know, he looks like he did before the injury and maybe a little bit quicker at times. Quicker out of the hole. I thought the one run when he made the safety miss, I think his burst out of the hole was really good."
How nice is it to be able to point to Fitz and tell the young guys to watch what he's doing?
"You're exactly right. He's like a lot of seniors who are doing that. Jeremy Gallon is doing that. But I think being the old man in that room and the way he approaches practice and preparation and all those things, you know he's a little more engaging as far as feeling comfortable with coaching guys and those kinds of things. I think it's important."
Were you happy with Thomas Gordon's performance on Saturday?
"Thomas is a good football player. He's played a lot of snaps. I think the one thing he needed to do better and we needed to do better -- because Jarrod [Wilson] had the same thing -- was being a little more under control when you're coming to the line of scrimmage on the run game. And then making sure that we're bringing our arms when we tackle. I think both of them are very aggressive. You like that part of it, but there's some times when you're the last man standing and you better get the ball on the ground."
What was your impression of Gallon after watching film?
"Short ... We'd like to keep getting a little more length to some degree, but he's a football player. I think the one thing with Jeremy and Drew [Dileo], when you talk about two guys who aren't the tallest guys in the world, they both play very hard. And they both play very aggressive. They both, as seniors, have really taken a real front and center role with our football team. Jeremy, his quickness. He's got soft hands. Not afraid to go battle for the ball, and he makes up for the height because of that."
After everything Blake Countess has gone through, to get back to this point and get two picks, how happy were you for him?
"You're always happy for guys when good things happen. It's 180 degrees difference when he's lying there in Texas stadium, knowing that his year's over with. I think what Blake has done from a personal level is how he's come back every day to work harder and harder. I'm going all the way back from the surgery to the rehab and really starting to engage in the fall with the other corners and coach a little bit. Have his experiences and kind of relate that to them. But it was good to get the ball back, and I'm glad Blake was the one who got it back."
MGoQuestion: How do you like the ability of your tight ends to block at this point?
"I think they're getting better. I think both of them, both young kids, neither one had to block a whole lot in high school. That's just the way their team used them, but I think they're getting better. I think Jake Butt has probably come a long way and he's pretty physical guy. I thought Funch, we targeted the wrong guys a couple times, but he got on guys. And I thought he got on with pretty good leverage."
MGoFollowup: How do you coach your guys to react when they let a defender by them. Should they turn around and chase after them?
"Well usually you work to the next level or the next opposite color shirt that you see that's running free."
MGoFollowup: Is turning and chasing a hard instinct to get over?
"Uh, I don't know if it's a hard instinct. I would say it maybe comes more natural to some guys than others."
Is AJ Williams still questionable?
"Yeah he is. He is."
How's Courtney Avery?
Will he be as limited as he was last week?
"He should be a little better. I think today will tell us a little more."
How has Jack Miller developed as a center?
"I think his confidence is what's really helped. His confidence in his own abilities, because I think Jack, early in his career, I thought sometimes he was not confidence in what he could do. I've seen that grow and that's part of maturity. I believe that he works awfully hard. He has really stepped up in his communication, which he has to at that position. Part of that is identification of what you see in the fronts, what you see in the backers and all that."
Was it your idea to have Steve Hutchinson stick around?
"No, I think that was Hutch's idea. He was going to be in town. You have to take advantage of those opportunities."
Did he work with anyone else other than Kyle Kalis?
"Yeah I think he was homed in the offensive line all day. So he's watching, and he's encouraging and those kinds of things."
Did he give you feedback or analysis?
"No. No. I didn't ask, either. I think I have an idea."
Is Russell Bellomy able to do anything in practice?
"He hasn't. I mean, he's doing some conditioning and those kinds of things with coach Wellman and his staff. He's in meetings now and all that kind of stuff."
Jehu Chesson hasn't caught a ball yet, but he did some nice things. What have you liked about him?
"His effort. His attention to detail. He loves to play. He's very much a teammate and does a nice job."
You've seen young offensive lines in your time here. There were some young guys in '97. Do you see any parallels?
"A lot of the comparison for what I see is Jon Jansen and Taylor [Lewan], how Jon did such a good job with a lot of those -- Backus and Hutch and Brandt -- did such a good job with those guys. And I should say Mike also. Mike Schofield. Both of those guys you see that leadership."
Is Schofield coming out of Lewan's shadow a little?
"Yeah, I don't know if he ever felt like he was in the shadow. I've never asked him. I always think he's probably a little bit of a forgotten man because Taylor does get a lot of attention. But I tell you, those are two pretty good tackles to have on your football team."