Coach Wilson Media Day Wrap Up
Aug. 4, 2014
So it's almost kind of difficult when you've got a guy that's out there every day, not just summer, all spring, all winter, and been with you a year or two. So we've gotten deeper not just in recruiting, but we've gotten deeper program depth and our walk ons. So we'll probably be 125 strong when school reports, but right now 105, that's just by NCAA rule.
Right now we've got 105 guys that are all healthy. There's actually a loophole where a guy who is coming off surgery and couldn't practice. He could be here for two a days for medical purposes, but couldn't be in the meetings, couldn't coach him. You couldn't have him watch practice, but you could rehab him and have another practice player take his spot. We have no one in that capacity as we're starting right now.
So we have 105 guys here, and I want to recognize a few guys not here. We did put out Kris Smith, a freshman that came in right when summer started. He said he wanted to maybe get a little closer to home. We talked about it, and that's what he felt was best, leaving in good standing. He's a freshman guy. We encouraged him to stay, but wanted to move on. And one of our recruits came up a little short on the academic side, and is going to have to look at an alternative route of JC in Jermane Connors.
Want to talk about staff updates with the guys, have some guys we have working with us in support roles. Number one, we made a few changes last year with a couple of profile positions, very confident and comfortable with the way those guys are working and working together, working with them recruiting through spring and through winter. So I really like the full time kind of big deals that happened last year as we move Coach Patton to offense and brought in some defensive guys. Kasey Teegardin was working up in Valpo, has some ties in our state, was a full time coach up there and is coming in as a GA, took Chris Shula's place. Chris took a job at John Carroll as D coordinator there. As a matter of fact, his grandfather played at John Carroll, it's actually Shula Stadium, so he's calling defensive calls there. But Kasey's coming in.
As a matter of fact, I think I want to say his fiancée, I don't want to mislead, but I know his significant girlfriend is actually one of our high school coaches, head coach at Ben Davis, so it's kind of a coaching family. So we're bringing in Brian Lepak. Ryan Stanchek, our GA who is awesome, great player, great young coach, got a chance to go full time at Alcorn State, kind of what I did starting out in my day.
You've done your GA time, looking for a full time gig. You want it. We're bringing in Brian. Brian played for us at Oklahoma. He actually just finished and took the bar exam on Wednesday this past week, and now he's figured out that he'd rather be a coach than a lawyer. I don't blame him. He won't make as much money, but he'll have more fun. He'll be working with us, played for us at Oklahoma. He was a walk on. I think he started his career at Colorado State. I recruited him, and he went to Colorado State, didn't like it. Transferred in, walked on, earned a scholarship and played for Coach Patton.
So we'll have a good even though it's a new deal, a guy that knows our system, knows how we coach and likes our language. So we have Brian Lepak as our Offensive GA. Ryan McInerney had been with us in the fall, helped recruiting. Officially starting in July. We hired Courtney Messingham, who is the offensive coordinator the last couple years at Iowa State. So an older guy, veteran guy, who transitioned there. He was in between jobs, an off the field guy helping with the offense and recruiting and what he does there.
In the recruiting world we have Jeff Sims who has been here. Came back to leave our position in the recruiting world, then Linwood Ferguson who has done some recruiting for us, went back to the high school ranks. And very excited about the guy we brought in, Cody Rager, who comes in two years with the Dolphins as a scout. One year in house, one year on the road where he's going to every college in the Pac 12 last year, the Western United States, the Mountain West, the eval guys have a great eye for talent. Prior to that, had three years down in Alabama and they're the first school in the recruiting world that came up with a personnel department of guys, how to contact and evaluate guys. So really excited with Jeff and Cody.
Lastly, as a good one, Coach Mark Deal has been here forever and does a lot with our guys behind the scenes and is going to continue to do some things, but is going to get pulled into some administrative roles with some more for football and ticket sales and marketing and other things working with alumni and still with our coaches. So we hired a guy to complement and handle our academic side and our player welfare side off the filed and that guy's name is Mike Pechac who over the last couple years has been at Bowling Green, but before that played at Mt. Union in Ohio.
So just some updates on those guys and what's going on as we said, ready for preseason. We were very comfortable with winter, like what we saw in spring ball and practiced. Let's talk about a little about summer. If you had a chance to talk to Mark Hill, talk with our players. As coaches, the new rules allowed us to be in workouts as we chose to be. We still had some summer vacation time and there are certain things we have player practices and kids start throwing balls, and we can't be there.
But you can go into the weight room or watch a team run, watch a team workout, and you could see a guy coming off an injury, engage, he's moving well, in shape. You could see a guy maybe struggling coming off injury. So, one, I say this without hesitation because I've had a chance to see not every workout but a lot. It's been our best summer. It's not even close. Because we're more mature, we're more talented, and we're just a higher, better team.
Each year we've gotten stronger in what we're doing, and we've been able to attack it, and I think that will lead in the preseason because we're at a different point in preseason as we start.
Conditioning, I know we talked about getting stronger in the winter but made a lot of strength gains in the winter. Now that it's summer time there is more running. Our running work from year one and year two, first time they did it they did 30 of those hills. There's no way the first couple years we could run that many. We have a thing called tempo run where in tempo offenses and defenses you have quick recovery, run, quick recovery, run, and we had 32, 60s one day. There is no way year one or two the team could have that stamina or mental maturity or physical capabilities of that. That's just part of your program when you're making gains. You're making physical gains in strength, you're making them in conditioning, making them mentally. So a lot farther along there.
In the weight room, just to show the gains we made, we now have 15, 400 pound bench pressers. We have eight on the offensive line right now. Led by Nate Hoff our defensive linemen at 495. Jason Spriggs, a 455, Tevin Coleman benches 405. He has a physical presence. I think he will be a stronger, more complete back. Nick Mangieri and Darius Latham gaining plus 40's and 55 in their benches over the summer.
Shane Wynn his best and David Cooper now close to seniors that you want to see. Nate Sudfeld had significant gains in his upper body strength that you want. To show where we started, in six and a half weeks our freshmen reported in day two did a bench press at 225. Six and a half weeks later they improved as a group by 63 reps in six and a half weeks. Some of those guys, a guy like Tegray Scales goes from 22 to 24. 24 is a lot for a high school kid. Or Wes Martin goes from 26 to 29, pretty good for a high school guy. Then you have guys like Coray Keel who did two and did eight six weeks later. That is a great jump for a young receiver. J Shun Harris, showing up at 160 pounds, and reps 225 10 times, not bad for a small receiver. Again, lot of gains in the weight room.
Again, with new rules, had a chance to see what's going on, so you know who is ready. Also know we didn't have a chance to participate in practice with them. But we were allowed several opportunities of 30 minutes, we did it two times a week, 30 minutes. You're allowed two hours of meeting time. We only used an hour. To me with the guys on instant relations, today's not the first day of practice; today's the first day of getting to wear helmets and throw the ball. We couldn't do that. But other than that, we're showing up at a good mode.
And last thing I'll say before questions, is I think we're just at a different point going into this last preparation time. Winter, spring, summer, now preseason where I just think preseason is at a different point. We have to be tough. We have to stay healthy. We have to get our physicalness going. We have a lot of strides we have to make.
Q. Is this program this week much closer to where you want it to be?
To me, as much as anything, I've got a great feel for our players, starting with the old guys, whether it be a guy like Shane, Timmy Bennett, Coop, Bob Richardson and those guys, and it's as talented a freshman group, and it's maybe the best group of kids collectively that the young class is. So a lot of returns, but a lot of young talent.
To me, it's kind of ready to roll. You're excited about the potential and capabilities. We're set up in a position where it's going to be a hard challenge, physical schedule, and we're going to have a lot of fun and success.
Q. You said if what you saw in the spring is any indication, you expect it to be significantly improved on defense. Can you elaborate on that a bit? What did you see in the spring that led you to think that?
But what we've really got is more depth, and depth at competition. The offensive guys have been competing to see. I think we've had seven or eight guys that started as O linemen. We've had several quarterbacks fighting to get on the field. Several running backs fighting to get on the field. Several quality receivers that played well enough to earn the ball and get the ball. We haven't had that on defense. It's been easier to get out there. So many guys back in competition. The challenge will be guys embracing the competition and embracing the battle. Young guys being mature enough to step into the fray and let's go play, and old guys not getting into that entitlement role that it's my time. You better come ready and keep getting better.
So I saw it every day. I saw a team that had a vibe and a bounce. I think as much as anything, not schematics or schemes or anything in coaching, I just think it's where the kids are. We've just recruited harder and tried to develop. It's still not close to where it ought to be. I didn't say it's what we want. We have a long way to go to what we needed to get to as a team.
Q. You talked about Antonio. Where is he now? It seemed Coach Knorr said even though he missed the spring and being able to hit full contact, just maybe earning a spot with the ones, where is he heading into fall camp?
From a physical standpoint, Antonio's going to be fine. I believe from a mental standpoint. But what I'm going to anoint any player here or you're in line and it's automatically your job. I told the team a couple years ago Tevin Coleman came in and basically beat out a very good player, a guy that set a bunch of records. He's almost on the list of all time bests at the school, and has a great opportunity to make a pro team for one of the better organizations in pro football, and he did nothing wrong. I wouldn't mind if somebody wanted to beat out Tevin Coleman, I'd be happy as can be with that because I think he's a great player and someone else is doing pretty good.
So competition is what we want, and what Coach Knorr's alluding to. It will be interesting to see. He's physically right, he's had zero limitations through summer. He'll have zero in preseason, and now it's time for him to go out and perform and do his job.
Q. How do you see the tight end position? Do you see that position being used any differently with different guys?
Ted, again, very talented passing game. Became a very solid player in the blocking game, that's why he was drafted. There are several bodies that are physically every bit as capable as Ted. Jordan Fuchs potentially maybe even a better receiver than Ted and a better skillset, really can run and pick and catch with the basketball background. But when you look at those guys by the end of the week or whenever you get those practice opportunities, when you look at that group, you're going to see five or six guys at 6'5", 250. They're all very mobile. I think we've got Danny Friend, Mike Cooper who is doing very well. A transfer from Arizona who came here a year ago is doing awesome. Those guys are pushing 255, 260. That is a little more of your bigger bodied guy. A guy we don't talk about much, Sean Damaska, another basketball player pushing 6'6", 6'7", he came in at 215. He's pushing 250. One guy we don't talk about, Anthony Corsaro has come in our most limited guy through summer because he's coming off a foot break from last spring that's gotten him where he's ready to practice and it will slow him.
Antonio got everything this summer. Corsaro' summer was limited. He was second team last year, and right now he might be out on the outside looking in. He's done nothing wrong except he has an injury. So I dislike the inexperience, but I like the talents and bodies we're working with and there is always going to be a tight end, and maybe we'll get some more big steps for the run game action and short yardage situations.
Q. Where do you see the kicking game in terms of posting the positions?
We'll start off preseason camp Aaron Del Grosso. And his leg is probably stronger than the leg that just walked out of here, but will it be as consistent? So he'll have the ability as far as range and the ability with depth. We have Griffin Oakes who is a second year walk on player, and kind of competing there, and we brought in Ben Rice who is a freshman from Noblesville who has a very, very large leg. So we have some competition.
We'll see a guy I've always been impressed even a year ago, Aaron had the bigger leg, but Mitch is going to make every kick. We'll see if he can handle that, because it's one thing in practice, it's one thing to go to the driving range, as Mr. Fischer likes to do. I grew up on a course that didn't have the driving range, so I used to go to the first tee and tee it up and start playing. I think they make great competition, I like those guys as punters, and Matt Dooley, the return game is going to be fine with Shane and our offensive skill guys.
Some of the freshmen if they get in the mix are great returners in high school. I think our return game will be okay. I think it's a key deal. But a quality player, we have some talent and we have the players so we'll see how that evolves. As we go through this year and years to come, because that is four years of a quality player that's hard to replace.
Q. Kevin, what do you want or need to see out of this defense this year to be successful?
It's more to get in the mindset, attitude, effort, and consistently going out. A year ago in the five games we won, I could be wrong here, but I think mathematically if we gave up 106 or 107 yards a game rushing in the five games we won. It was well over 300 in the seven games we lost. So there were some good performances last year defensively that that I'd take right now, we'll take our chances. If it's good enough, I'll take it right now. But we did not consistently do it from day to day and week to week. When you're a very good player, very good on the side of the ball, very good team. Consistency is the deal. We just talked about it with our kicker. Talked about it with the balls are leaving out. So when you replace guys, you're looking for consistency, and that's what we're looking for there.
There is going to be enough talent in good programs and good teams every day in practice, every week they're going to show up. We'll see if they can get that.
Q. With the non conference schedule as challenging as it is with Bowling Green, Missouri. In an ideal world is that too strong a challenge or too tough a challenge or would you like an SEC team in the non conference?
In this new mode, we go to nine conference games, one year you have five games and next year you have four. If you don't have all of your non conference games at home, I think it's great for the restaurants, hotels, the community. I mean home for those eight games last year economically we made as much money as we had because there were more people coming to games et cetera, and so who we play is as critical to me as a Big Ten school. You want to try to get to seven. That's been our plan since we've been here. Moving forward we're positioning ourselves to consistently be there. It's not easy because there are not a lot of options.
I know the administration is working as we communicate things what are your choices. You can say you want to play X team and you missed North Texas. You have two conference championships teams in Bowling Green and North Texas and Missouri plays for a Conference Championship.
I had someone put something in front of me scheduling teams for 2018 and `19. We've already scheduled people in `20 and `21. That's seven years. So a team could have a high peak, a low peak, it is what it is. I'd like to be a little more of taking advantage of being at home, in a home environment, staying in our place, not traveling. I think that's more critical than who we're playing.
At the same time, when you're playing in the Big Ten East, there are not going to be patsies, so you better get used to playing. You can say they get you ready or don't get you ready. At the end of the day, if you didn't want to play a hard schedule, you shouldn't have chosen Indiana as a Big Ten East recruit. So embrace the challenge, and embrace the opportunity.
Q. What areas have you seen Nate make the most progress this year?
We recognize all the great things you've done. You made a comment last year, he and the offense sometimes do some good things, we'd try to push them more. Like golly, I'm playing good. No, we're just pushing you to be the best you can. I think he made a comment, that I can understand that and handle that more because in the end you want me to be as good as I can be. Like I said, for a couple years now to be really good as a program, we've got to have the dynamic play at quarterback.
He's played very well. I think he can be one of the better players in this league. We need to take care of that ball in the end zone and manage the team at a high level, and I think he's ready to do that. All right, guys. Let's have a great year. We'll see y'all.
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