Leavitt Verbatim: First-day quotes, unfiltered ...
I've got a scheduling conflict this morning, so I'm home with the kids while my wife's out, and correspondent Joe Rienzi is covering today's practice. The next four days have a single morning session, then the first day of two-a-day workouts comes Saturday, with three sets of those in each of the next two weeks. So while I'm here, I'm posting Jim Leavitt's Monday comments in their entirety. Enjoy ...
JL: It's hard to really say much about the first practice because we don't have pads on. The normal things that you see in the first practice, learning the discipline of moving around the field, making sure they focus on now and just learning to work hard. We have a number of guys who are very, very talented. Some of the freshmen that have come in are very talented. It's just interesting to see if they can understand the effort level. That's hard. It's difficult for them to see that. But we've got some young guys who definitely are going to play.
All the quarterbacks I thought did a really good job. They're all three great leaders. I mean B.J. Daniels with Grant and Matt and those guys. And Evan Landi, I'm really happy he's here. The other three are working most with the 1s and 2s, but Evan Landi, I'm really glad we brought him in. He's going to be a really good football player.
Our defensive front's going to be really interesting because there's a lot of talent there, but how good are they going to be, I don't know. That will be interesting. Filling in for Ben Moffitt, that's a huge thing. Tyrone McKenzie is the one we have in the middle right now. He wants to be very good, but he played Sam. But that's what Ben did also. Ben played Sam, then we moved him into the middle.
The corners, Murphy and Tyller Roberts, did a great job. There's some real competition behind there. It's going to be real interesting. I thought Quenton Washington looked good, and Butler did some good things. George Baker did some real good things, Theo. There's some competition at corner. Bryant, I thought, had an outstanding day, the receiver. I was really impressed. It's hard, you know. You don't know; pads come on and everything changes a little bit. Popek at right tackle looked ... we've got to get him ready. He did some real good things, I thought. Those are the main guys I saw that kind of stood out.
Q: With the kids in for Summer B, they're in with the strength coaches for a month before practice starts. Does that help with the transition to the first day?
JL: Sure it does. Ronnie McKeefery and his staff do a great job. You still have to get pads and helmets on, and it's different. When you come out here with our coaches, our coaches are demanding a lot. I was really glad we got the practice in, had a real good one. We got out there about 4:30, went about two and a half hours, a little bit longer than we probably normally would go first day. But we'll be back at 8:15 for meetings tonight, go to 10 or 11 then get going again tomorrow morning.
Q: Did you guys do anything in particular to kill the rain delay?
JL: Jeremy, our equipment manager, did a great job. He called, I don't know which station he called, and talked to the people with the weather, and they said there was a cell coming in that was going to last probably 15-20 minutes. So what we did was delay practice a half-hour and it was perfect. That really worked out. I don't know who Jeremy called, but whoever it was gave us the right information.
Q: What are the things that in your mind you need to most get solved between now and the end of August?
JL: There's so many things. You want to see guys play with great effort, that's for sure. Special teams are going to be ... you don't spend as much time on special teams in the spring. We're going to spend a lot of time on special teams. It's probably the No. 1 area we've got to get quite a bit better at. Maikon Bonani kicked real good today, did some good things. Delbert punted really well. The snappers did a good job. The special teams are going to be a real focus. It's one thing we've got to do better at.
Q: Coach, how much do you think experience will play a part in the success this season?
JL: I don't know. I hope it plays a big part in the success. If seniors stay on edge and get better, that will help. Just because you get older and you've been around, you've got to make sure you get better. That's the thing, and hopefully they understand that, all the guys. We've got a lot of guys who have played a lot of football. We have a lot of young guys who are going to play this year, too. I'll bet we'll have 5-6-7 freshman that really have a chance to play this year. That it? We good?
Q: Jim, can you tell a difference in the attitude of the team when you have so many returning starters back, coming off the best season in school history?
CL: The guys that are back, they're far along with where we're at, how to practice, how to do things, understanding the offense and defense and so forth, where to go on the field and what to do. We've got such a mixture of young guys, and I think that's going to be a real key this year, because we've got some very talented young guys, but how fast can we bring them along? The older guys (have) to really keep moving forward also. We've got a real mixture. We lost some real good players. You lose Ben Moffitt, lose the two corners we had, no question, losing Walter Walker was big, and Amarri at receiver, Jared Carnes, and Nick Capogna. That's three offensive linemen, so depth a little bit there. So we lost good players but we have a number of them back as well.
Q: Do you know when you might have John Hendrick back out here.
JL: I'm not sure. John's a pretty special guy. I've known John a long time. John will be back when he's good and ready. He wants to be out. It's killing him right now, but until he gets cleared, just like anybody, you're not going to come out. We need him, there's no question. Kevin (Patrick) is doing a good job with the front four, but we'd sure love to have John out there, and we will, when things are right.
Q: Of the new guys, who will you look at as options on returns?
JL: We've got a bunch. We're looking at a lot of guys, and after today, we've got to really look at some guys. I'll be able to give you more of an idea in two or three days. We play so soon. We play in August this month, so that's a real concern of mine to get us ready. We have a lot of work and we don't have a lot of time.