Head Coach Al Golden
When asked about the recent arrival of President Julio Frenk and his visit to practice:
"The guy has a million things going on. Students are coming in for orientation. I’m sure he’s meeting staff everyday. I know how difficult transitions can be. For him to take the time to come over here means a lot to athletics and certainly our squad."
Do you have an idea of the starting eleven on offense? Who would definitely be locked in?
"I think Brad [Kaaya]. I don’t know. There’s really not too many guys locked in. Herb [Waters] has had a tremendous camp, and I’m really proud of his consistency everyday right now. We’ve got to see how it plays out now; we’ve got important days the next few days. We’re getting them healed up and ready to go. As I’ve said to you guys for the last however many days, we’ve never had this. There are not many incumbents and there’s a lot of depth. I’m interested to see how this plays out."
You recently called it "moving day", what have you seen in the last few practices in regard to that?
"They came out with a purpose today now. The defense was physical; I thought the secondary tackled really well. The offense had urgency, we were better with our coordination’s, and our tempo was better. I know guys know it’s getting close. I mean you’ve got to make a move right now if you want to make a move. So they’ve got to just take that intention into the scrimmage."
What about starting line up for defense? It seems as though Raphael Kirby is locked in.
"He’s doing a good job. Kirby is the epitome of a pro. He’s mature and he’s a leader. He’s the same guy everyday, consistent. There are some others, I mean again we are rotating so many guys up front. We’re working three units on the front, which we haven’t done in a while. We’re working two and a half to three units that’s it."
Through all the different stuff you guys are trying to do on the defensive front, do you feel like you have every player type that you want now?
"Oh yeah, this is fine, this is good. Just seeing the guys competing. All the noses look the same. All the ends kind of look the same, all the tackles, having some speed rushers. This is good. They’re fighting not only for just first and second down reps, they’re fighting for the nickel. It’s been good."
Assistant Head Coach / Defensive Coordinator Mark D’Onofrio
Where do you see the areas that you have to build up on defensively? What about their execution?
"More disruptive, more TFL’s, more sacks. Improving in the red zone, improving on third downs and takeaways. That’s not it, but those are areas that we’ve had success with at times, really good success over the past couple of years. We just have to get consistent; we have to get consistent with that. It’s also players. It also helps when the quality of the player improves. Winning a one on one battle and taking the play."
Who’s your best pass rusher?
"I think we have a two-deep right now that I feel very strongly about rushing the passer. I wouldn’t create one, there’s a battle right now. Again Al’s probably said it, I’ve said it a couple weeks ago, and no one has a spot right now. They’re battling, especially on the D-Line. We probably have three-deep right now competing regular package. On speed package, our third down, our nickel, two-minute package we probably have two-deep worth of guys competing for those pass rush spots."
How do you feel about the quality of the pass rush from the inside?
"Good, I think were getting more push. We have the ability on third down to get a little smaller, meaning we could take some linebackers now and put them outside. We can take a guy like Chad Thomas and [Ufomba]Kamalu and kick them inside so now you have four fast guys on the field. When in those situations, you have guys that can bump inside and play over at guard… That’s our job is to try to get the best match up every week, and get some our best rushers on what we see as the weak link and on the other side. Create matchups, and win those matchups."
Running Back Gus Edwards
As a veteran, what have you learned from some of these young kids?
"They just keep me on my toes, they keep me motivated everyday when I come out there to do better. I kind of keep a chip on my shoulder because I want to lead and I’m a veteran like you said. I have to set an example."
What does it mean to you seeing Dr. Frenk take time out of his busy schedule to meet with the team?
"That shows a lot, I know he’s a busy man and he’s the face of the school right now. He told us we’re a big part of what he wants to do here and that he’s looking forward to our first game and everything. It was just great."
Defensive Lineman Jelani Hamilton
We’ve heard so much about the depth, how fresh do you guys feel because it is such a deep unit this year?
"It feels really fresh, it seems like we really haven’t had a lot these past couple of years. Now that we have it we’ve been taking advantage of it. We’re able to see the effect of it, having depth on the D-Line. Always being fresh and always being able to go out there and do the most that you can."
What are the significant differences (now being healthy) that you feel you can make on the field?
"I feel like I can do anything that my coaches ask of me, no hesitation no problem, full speed.
Linebacker Jermaine Grace
How is the linebacker unit coming along?
"It’s coming [along] real good right now. All of the younger guys are following me and [Raphael] Kirby right now. We have [Juwon Young], we have [Marques] Gayot and all the young guys behind us. So, we kind of try and lead them and show them the right way to go because without that, it’ll be tragic. So, we kind of try to lead [those] guys to the right direction and make sure we do the right things on the football field so they can follow."
You were banged up in the scrimmage like a lot of other guys. How are you feeling now?
"I feel good. Coach Golden showed a lot of love for us, let’s us get up on our feet, gave us some time off, and then we come back and showed the same love back – go on the football field and give Coach Golden our all."
What skills does Darrion Owens bring to the table?
"He’s gonna set the edge. He sets the edge very well, he’s chased the run down, he can cover… He also can catch. I didn’t really know he can do much of that, but he can catch. He’s able to get to the tackles and get sacks."
Safety Deon Bush
How do you feel the competition at safety is shaking out right now?
"We got five people that can really play and it’s just making us so much better as a secondary – all that competition in the backfield. It’s just great, man. It’s just making it real interesting out there."
On what he’s seen from the offense
"We’ve been going against them for two weeks, so you get kind of a hang of what they’re doing… It’s a good offense, man. They’re doing real good over there, they’re pushing us each day, and they’re just making us so much of a better team."
On President Julio Frank coming to practice
"That’s great. He’s been here for three days and he’s already out here, on the field, talking to us. We’re real excited about that and that shows that he really cares about the Canes football program and it’s great."
Defensive Tackle Calvin Heurtelou
Is there still noise to deal with on the defensive side of the football?
"There’s always going to be noise. We don’t pay attention to noise outside. We just focus on whatever’s inside the building – whatever our team has to deal with."
What have you gained from last season and where have you made the biggest strides?
"I’ve gained experience with the game and the biggest strides I’ve made are mental strides. Strides as far as recognition to schemes, recognition to blocks… Just being a vet. My first year in Division I was last year."
How does the depth of the defensive line help out the team?
"It helps out a lot because the more pounding we can do on the offensive line… Offensive lines don’t really have subs and when you have a defensive line with a lot of depth that can keep pounding, keep punching the offensive line, and keep being physical with them all game, it’s just an advantage to the defense."
What has impressed you the most about the way that Kendrick Norton has transitioned from high school to here?
"What has impressed me the most is that he doesn’t play like a freshman coming out of high school. He plays like a mature college player. The things he does – he’s smart, he’s picked up on the defense really quick, he knows how to hustle, he knows how to attack the ball, and force turnovers."