Opening Statement Quotes from Coach Doeren:
“It has been a much different camp from last year in a lot of ways. We have a lot more depth and more competition at certain position groups, such as the DB’s, D-line, tight ends, running backs. I’m excited about the depth and competition and the quality of competition at some of those positions.”
“The linebacking core had some injuries going into camp with Ty Linton and Artemis [Robinson], as they both had offseason type things. We were thin there to begin with and unfortunately M.J. [Salahuddin] had a knee injury four or five days ago that will keep him out for a while. He’ll have surgery on it and whether he’s out for the season or not we’ll see. He hasn’t used his redshirt year, so that is the silver lining for him. It’s not something that will keep him from the team for good, but as we all know in sports injuries do happen and it’s always been my philosophy to use the next man up approach. That’s why you recruit, that’s why you develop and that’s why you have competition. I know that Jerod Fernandez, [Brandon] Pittman, Rodman Noel, Ernie Robinson. Two freshmen we have there are playing really well. So excited what Bradley Chubb has done at linebacker and Airius Moore. Those two guys are going to be really good linebackers here. I still feel good about our depth there, but I hate to see it for M.J. He may be one of the better workers on our team.”
“The talent we have in the freshmen class is very evident. Several of them are going to have the chance to play. Tony Adams is playing at a high level on the offensive line. He’s playing both guard and center. Cole Cook is probably ahead of the core for his group of tight ends for the freshmen class. I could see Cole having a chance to play early for us.
“At receiver, all of the receivers that we signed will play for the exception of Maurice Trowell. We don’t know yet on him. He’s been out with a hip flexor and will come back this week. I’d like to play him if we can. I feel good about the depth at receiver and both Stephen Louis and Bo Hines will play as freshmen.
“At tailback, Dakwa Nichols, the redshirt from last year, had a really good scrimmage yesterday. I feel good about his addition into the backfield we already have. That’s kind of where we’re at on offense. On defense, at corners, Mike Stevens and Troy Vincent, Jr. are both playing well and Elliott Davis made a phenomenal play on a deep ball Saturday. I really like the three corners we brought in. Germaine Pratt will play. You’ll see him out there with the special teams and he may have a role with the defense. We still need to see how he progresses.”
“On the defensive line, Kentavius Street and Justin Jones are probably ahead of the curb physically. I can see those guys contributing as soon as game one. The specialists are where we thought they’d be. Bo Hines, Matt Dayes and Bra’Lon Cherry are handling the duties for the return game and have all three done a nice job.”
On if the squad is ahead of where it was at this point last year:
“We’re way ahead of where we were last year. We entered day one of camp with our entire offense and defense installed, except our goalline packages. We had everything in. That’s the advantage with the new NCAA legislation that we were provided is that we can now meet with the players for two hours a week during the summer. We basically had everything installed and were able to watch some of our spring film all summer long. Even our freshmen, we didn’t have a single procedural penalty in the scrimmage Saturday. For the guys to know the offense that well to line up and go play, compared to last year there were probably 15. The receivers just didn’t know where to go and it’s a lot better from that standpoint.”
On the camp competition for backup quarterback:
“Jalen [McClendon] has come a long way in a week. Garrett [Leatham] is more familiar right now, so I think if we had to play today I think that [Leatham] would be the backup. Between now and game day, I’m hoping that [McClendon] can continue to push. His arm is better than maybe anybody on our team. He has a tremendously strong arm. He threw a ball yesterday 65 yards on the run. It’s just getting him comfortable. We’ll see where we are a week from now, but [Leatham] is ahead of him mentally.”
On the improvements of the sophomore receivers have made in the offseason:
“[Bra’Lon] Cherry is probably the most improved, really had a good seven days. [Marquez] Valdez-Scantling is way more consistent, which I think is the way he’s taken care of himself off the field. He’s done a good job nutritionally. He’s gained some weight and he had a lot of cramping issues last year. He couldn’t sustain throughout a practice or a game, so I’m happy with the changes he’s made to be able to handle the volume the receivers have. [Jumichael] Ramos is pretty similar to what he was last year and continues to make plays. He hasn’t done a whole lot except change his body, but he’s still making plays that he made last year. Johnathan Alston has had a really good camp. He and Bo Hines have been rotating, both of those guys are productive day-in and day-out.”
On Rob Crisp recovering from last season’s injury:
“He’s had a great camp. Rob [Crisp] will probably tell you he hasn’t, because he’s hard on himself. He wants to be really good. He is a different guy than he was last year. His health, obviously any starters health is critical. When he’s on, he’s a really good football player. He’s long, athletic and has a good command when he’s talking to guys on the team. He’s been a good leader and he just has to continue down that path.
“I think when he lost football last year, it changes you as a player. It makes it a lot more important to you, because you miss being out there. Experiencing the way we’ve worked together to get him to where he needs to be, to get his trust of how much we care about him has helped. I’m excited for Rob. He just needs to keep going down that path.”
On Jarvis Byrd:
“Jarvis [Byrd] is still rehabbing. He’s been out there for several practices, but we’re taking it slow with him for obvious with him. With those type of injuries, if you push them too fast, you lose them. Jarvis knows our defense. The days he’s been out there, he made all of the checks and mentally felt good about it. Just got to get it to where he’s running full speed. We just have to be smart with him. Right now, if we were playing Josh Jones, Hakin Jones and Germaine Pratt are our top three at strong safety and free safety. They’re kind of in and out.”