ULM Holds First Weekly Press Conference of Season
Below are selected quotes from Tuesday's press conference:
"I am excited to get another season underway. There are a lot of reasons to be very optimistic about this season. It is a bit different not being able to open up this Saturday but we have dealt with this before, two years ago. The majority of the team is used to this situation."
"There is that opportunity to watch some other games and some other players. You hope that your team is cerebral enough to learn from those mistakes they witness while watching those games. We are certainly going to encourage our guys to watch a few games."
"We are healthy right now other than Khari Usher, which we have known about for a while and we probably will not see him back until around the conference schedule. We will miss him and his enthusiasm but I have been pleased with our secondary in camp."
"We have a nice foundation on the defensive line that we started a couple a years ago and now we are seeing it to fruition. I am excited about that group and their energy and depth."
"Linebacker is another group where we have a lot of depth. The spots are two-deep, which is what we want.
"I am very excited about our cornerbacks. We struggled early on with some immaturity with some guys that maybe have not played the position before or were very young. Now we have a group back there that has some confidence and some athleticism. "
"Our safety Hawk position is very athletic and is the fastest group we have been able to throw back there. Their ability to close on the ball have forced the way the offense is attacking the defense in practice."
"We are not as deep at safety as I would like with Usher being out. That is a position we need to see some guys mature and grow up."
"I have been very pleased with Kolton Browning and Cody Wells in terms of their comfort level within the system and identifying defense and getting us into good plays. That comes with experience."
"Our running back position continues to build depth. Jyruss Edwards and Centarius Donald will both see a lot of time."
"We have three guys at tight end that we are looking at playing this year. Keavon Milton should have an outstanding year. He is very comfortable in the position. A pleasant surprise in camp has been Harley Scioneaux. He has added some weight and is more athletic now than he was in the spring. Kevin Steed has had a good fall camp too."
"Our receiving corps continues to be a strength as long as we can stay healthy. Je'Ron Hamm is ready for his breakout. Tavarese Maye has had a good summer and I think it was important for him to get back healthy because he has some ability to be an explosive player for us. Brent Leonard is one of the finest receivers I have ever been around and I generally do not pass out compliments like that. He has great hands, he is a great route runner, he presents himself well to the quarterback, physical and understands coverages."
"Our offensive line is still the question in my mind. I have been excited about the group. We have some competition and depth for the first time. We are a much more physical group than we have been in the past and Coach Farmer has done a great job with that group."
On Special Teams...
"Our kicking game has improved. We have more coverage guys than we have ever had. Justin Manton and Connor Fryoux have been kicking and punting the ball very well. Connor does a great job of giving you that 40 yard punt with four or five second hangtime that you are able to cover."
On Peaking Too Early...
"It's hard. I think it becomes more difficult with a team that is chomping at the bit to play. This group has worked and invested and now they want some dividends. This group is mature enough to handle it."
On Coaching Staff
"I think that is significant for a number of reasons. I think anytime you have staff continuity, you have upped your chances of winning. All you have to do is look around at all the successful programs around the country and there is that blueprint. "
"It has been well-documented that almost all of these guys on the staff have had opportunities to leave for more money at other places. Anytime a team witnesses that, then the guys are more excited. If they are staying they must have some good feelings on what is getting ready to happen."
On Team's Experience...
"I do not think this team is really all that caught up in who we play, it is more how we play. They have played against some really good helmets and Arkansas is a very good football team and there is a reason that everybody feels as high about them as they do, they are good. We respect that but we also recognize that we have played against high-level teams before and because of that there is not that apprehension."
"Watching these kids grow up is really rewarding. I love my guys because they will give it up. They are a lot of fun to coach and be around. I trust them."
On This Saturday...
"As coaches we have all of these things we need to get done before the season stats. My wife and I, we have this checklist. We have this, this and this. We have to go to Chuck-E-Cheese and all of those other things as a family. We have pretty much checked out all those boxes. We are going to practice Saturday morning because I want the guys to be able to watch some games. I am going to release the staff because that is what we are going to do too. Sunday will be hard work day for us as will the rest of the week. I am probably going to lock myself in front the big screen my wife so kindly got me a few years ago and watch some games and maybe cook something out on the grill and have some family time."