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Golden Fall Camp Press Conference Recap

AG addressed the media this morning in preparation for tomorrow's opening practice.

Joel Auerbach

You can listen to the entire presser HERE

Here are some highlights (Courtesy UM):

Opening Statement…
"Welcome to training camp. We’re excited to get going. Most of our kids are in already. Some are being processed today, but we expect everybody out there but two individuals tomorrow. We’ll reaffirm that as the day goes on. We’re still waiting on the arrival of Trayone Gray and Darrell Langham, just to save you that question. Welcome, we appreciate you coming, and with that, we’ll open it up to any questions that you have."

On linebackers coach Micheal Barrow’s sabbatical and subsequent staff changes…

"First of all, Micheal has always conducted himself with class, with dignity, with integrity. He has been a great leader here for a long time, not just on campus and with our team, but within our community. As I said to him as he was starting to try to figure out what direction he wanted to go, I said to him there is no calendar with family. If this is the direction you want to go, it’s our job to help you with this transition. It’s been difficult for him. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like over the next month – I don’t think he’s been in a situation like this since [his youth] where he’s not participating.

"We miss Mike, but at the same time, we had a chance to move Hurlie [Brown] back to defense, something that he’s very comfortable with. Being in the staff meetings and understanding the nomenclature of the defense and being the type of guy to have a rapport with everybody, I think he’s going to make the transition quickly.

"Then we elevated Ice Harris, who is more than deserving and obviously very grateful. Here’s a guy that’s been doing this for a quarter-century for this opportunity, and I know he’s going to give everything he has and going to make us better. Clearly we had an opportunity to bring on Kevin Beard, so we did that. Not the best of timing, but all that is is a circumstance. It’s not the definition of what’s going to happen moving forward and it’s not the result, it’s just the circumstance. It doesn’t determine anything. We have good veterans at those two positions, and I expect our guys to rally and be sharp during camp."

On the play of the linebacker group and specifically sophomore Jermaine Grace

"Jermaine has had a good summer. He ran some of the fastest 40’s on the team, not just the linebacker position – consistently under 4.5 (seconds). He’s about 210 pounds now, he has more experience, he’s smart, he’s an excellent special teams player, he gives us three down value, he’s a competitor and a striker.  I’m excited about Grace.

"Clearly [Darrion] Owens, you guys knew I was excited about his focus and his performance in the spring, and now he’s going to get a good opportunity at SAM along with Thurston Armbrister. We’ll start with [Terry] McCray over there as well."

On the team’s linebacker depth heading into fall training camp…

"I don’t think there’s any question we lost some depth, but we have some other guys that are going to rally. It’s going to give [Terry] McCray an opportunity, a guy like [Mike] Smith an opportunity, Demetrius Jackson an opportunity, Juwon Young, and obviously you mentioned [Jermaine] Grace. Those guys are all going to get an opportunity.

"I’m excited about our group. I don’t want those that are not with us to diminish what the guys that are with us are all about. [Raphael] Kirby, we mentioned [Jermaine] Grace earlier. Denzel [Perryman] has had a great summer – 245 pounds now. [Darrion] Owens I mentioned earlier and [Thurston] Armbrister."

On how to educate his team given the dismissal of two student-athletes…

"I’m responsible for all 114 guys and every staff member. I’m responsible for everybody. It’s something we take seriously. It’s something that we’re very prudent with, in terms of being proactive. We have guest speakers now, we’re working with [Director of Student-Athlete Development] Shirelle Jackson. It’s something that’s disappointing but we have to continue to educate and communicate and make sure we’re making great choices in the community and making great choices on campus."

On the reports regarding the suspension of quarterback Kevin Olsen

"With any of these instances, as I’ve said to you guys before, if somebody is suspended it’s going to come from [Athletics Director] Blake James and [Senior Associate Athletics Director] Chris Freet. In terms of how we’re approaching camp, we have four quarterbacks, we’re going to cut it to two after the second scrimmage - about two weeks prior to the first game - and we’ll have two that will get ready for the trip to Louisville."

On the return and summer progress of Duke Johnson

"He’s doing great. He has an edge about him, he has a focus about him that he continued and grew since the spring. [It is] a physical, more durable, stronger version of Duke Johnson but faster. At 208 pounds, he’s now running his fastest 40’s as a Miami Hurricane. I’m excited about the edge he brings to this training camp. He was fully integrated long ago, and his conditioning is good. I don’t think we’re going to have any setbacks relative to that.

"At the same time, we’re excited about that group in general, with the emergence of Gus [Edwards], [Joseph] Yearby, [Walter] Tucker gave us a lot of work there in spring, DeAndre Johnson. We have depth there, and I think Duke has done a good job of mentoring those guys."

On injuries to his team entering the first day of practice…

"You just never know for sure, and I’d hate to be wrong here. I would say that Ryan Williams…if you guys have specific questions on – I’d prefer to go that route. I have everybody being integrated right now. [Anthony] Chickillo is fine. [Matt] Goudis is fine. He did have a little issue this summer, but everything I understand is that he’s been much better the last two weeks, so he should be good. [Ladarius] Gunter has had a great summer. His shoulder’s great, and his conditioning has really improved."

On the return of wide receivers Herb Waters and Phillip Dorsett

"Those two have emerged as leaders in the wide receiver group. I don’t know how you’d characterize their summers anything other than awesome. Faster than they’ve ever been, stronger. Herb’s pushing 200 pounds. I’m very excited about the progress they’ve made, and obviously they were missing at the end of the year."

On the status of redshirt senior quarterback Ryan Williams

"I think he’s going to meet with the doctor tonight. Rather than me act like I know what I know what I’m talking about, we can get an idea of where he is. He’s had no setbacks, he’s doing great physically. His mind has always been tremendous, in terms of the game and leadership from that standpoint. Is he going to be a factor in this race in the next five weeks? I don’t know. It’s not worth speculating on. Let’s see what Dr. Kaplan and his staff say, and we’ll stay on track. He has much more experience in dealing with this and the integration part of it than we do."

On monitoring Duke Johnson during training camp after surgery in 2013…

"He’s fully integrated. He left that in 2013. He’s a different person right now. As I said he’s stronger, he’s more durable, he’s in great condition. He has a lot of guys around him. He has a lot of experience around him – both at wide out and tight end - and now he has some guys in the backfield who can help him carry the load. I don’t think we need to modify anything with Duke. We’ll be prudent with him like just we are with everybody. He wants to go. He’s ready to go. It’s not, ‘let’s get to camp and test it.’ He’s been testing it out here for all of Summer B, which I believe started June 28."

On what areas he thinks Duke Johnson could improve…

"I think the biggest thing is we all want to see him pick up where he left off. He was pressing his runs, they were hitting where they were designed to hit, so he had great discipline at the end of last year. He was running between the tight ends really well, then when he to second level, he would allow his talent to take over. He was very disciplined in that.

"I don’t know if you feel the same way as observers, but he was running differently in those last three and a half games. He was running as hard and as strong as I’ve ever seen him run, delivering stiff arms, lowering his pads, running where the ball it needed to be run. Just prior to the injury – I’m talking moments - he was running the ball at Florida State probably as well as anybody all year. We need him to pick up where he left off. We’ll go from there."

On his confidence in the defense heading into fall training camp…

"There are lot of things, especially coming out of the spring in terms of our tackling, yards per carry, three-and-outs, things of that nature. We’re attacking more. We’re stronger. We have seven guys now on the defensive front that do 225 30 times or more. Michael Wyche comes in and gives us great size and strength. Calvin Heurtelou comes in and gives us the same, Anthony Moten, Chad Thomas. In terms of depth, that’s the best we’ve been there on the defensive line in quite some time. We’re stronger.

"The biggest difference I hope – and this isn’t empirical, this is just watching – is the experience and quiet mind that we’re seeing in the secondary. Everybody’s back, everybody’s stronger, everybody’s experienced, the communication is really good, the belief in each other, the accountability. We have great leadership, to be honest with you. We had the best leadership we’ve had in quite some time. I thought [Anthony] Chickillo stepped up, [Ufomba] Kamalu stepped up, Jamal Carter, Denzel [Perryman] of course we mentioned earlier. A bunch of guys - Ladarius [Gunter]. Just a really good summer. Now they have to bring it into the season."