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Head Coach Jon Embree

On Training Camp- “We had our first day of pads yesterday, this is our first two-a-day today, so we are really starting to hit camp so to speak. It has been very good so far, I’ve been impressed with the retention that our offense and defense players have had of our scheme, and really impressed with the freshmen that have come in and started to assimilate themselves into, not only our program, but what they’ve been able to do on the field and take what we’ve done in the classroom and transfer it out there. I’m excited about the task in front of us, our goal this year is to try to find a way to go to a bowl game. Our players have worked with that in mind. I think they’ve done a very good job of keeping that at the forefront of everything they’ve done. Obviously, we’ll find out here in 12 weeks whether or not were going to get a 13th game. As you guys know me, I’m not afraid to talk about accomplishing those kinds of things. I think it is important that we put it out there whatever it is we are trying to accomplish. Whether it is me, or their mom and dad, or a fan sees them; just remind them, how you doing towards getting that bowl game, just like last year I challenged our former players and fans to ask them what they did to end that road streak.”

On The Quarterback Competition-“We’re in a quarterback competition right now and three guys, it’s (Connor) Wood, (Jordan) Webb, and (Nick) Hirschman all competing and they have all had their moments. It will get down to it now, we just finished summer school so we haven’t maybe done as much because finals were Friday. But now that school is done we will really put the screws down on these guys. We would love to get it down to two, if we can or one as quickly as possible so that the offense knows who the guys are that are leading them when we go out there to play CSU. We will start doing some more situational things and start evaluating those guys, not just 7-on-7. As I’ve said before, that’s all fine and all that but I want to see who can bounce back when they make a poor decision, see who can make things happen when there’s some pressure in their face, see who can just move the team and lead them down the field.”

On Tradition At Linebacker-“Well our linebackers, everyone has been saying they’ll be the strength, but if you would have asked me on June 20 I would have said I don’t know because (Doug) Rippy was still dinged up and (Jon) Major was still coming back from an injury also. Those two guys have stepped up, Derrick Webb has had a very good camp so far, he really has. And Brady Daigh has had a really good camp, he’s very physical and it’s starting to click for him. He’s a very instinctual player and yesterday he had two really good plays that he wouldn’t have made last year just because he would have been thinking his way through it. I think it is important that those guys are always the heartbeat of your defense.”

On The Defensive Line-“One of the reason (the linebackers) are able to do some things is because of what the guys are doing in front of them. We have some (defensive lineman) that are allowing our linebackers to run and make some plays. Will Pericak from a technique standpoint has gotten so much better, it’s just night and day. I remember the first spring in the first practice watching him and thinking like really, because his technique was all over the place, his footwork his hands and really understanding stuff. He has worked so hard with (defensive line coach Mike Tuiasosopo) to get things right and now he is such a good technician. His pass rush is becoming even better, which is something he has struggled at, and just his whole game has really improved. When guys like him have a Nate Bonsu back, and what Nate did to get back, he loss probably 30 pounds and his athleticism, I didn’t think I would use that word when describing Nate Bonsu but he’s another smart player. So watching those guys yesterday in 9-on-7 and what the young guys did it was very encouraging, but it allows our linebackers to be linebackers.”

On The Quarterback Competition - “I think to play that position, there has to be a little bit of swag about you, a little bit of the ‘I can do this.’ Your teammates are going to feed off of you. When you are 3rd-and-8 and you have to step in the huddle, you can’t be the guy that is whispering the play. If you are one of those guys, the rest of the offense will sense it. If you step in there and take control and let them know what the deal is when you’re breaking the huddle and heading to the line of scrimmage. You have to have that. I think every good team has that position. That’s a position that you can’t compromise that. If you have a guy that is just taking care of himself and if you don’t have a lot of upperclassmen that are around them that have played, that can help them through it; you are going to go through a lot of growing pains. At times (all three guys have it). You can tell when a play comes in, that that is there favorite play, so to speak. Then you send them the play where they aren’t so excited. I want them to feel that way about every play that comes in. They have the grasp of it and what we’re trying to do. We have it at times.”

On Connor Wood - “Connor Wood has a big arm. He can make all the throws. He has a good grasp of the offense. We need him to be more consistent in his decision-making. He needs to continue to work his accuracy. He sometimes erratic with his throws.”

On Nick Hirschman - “(Nick) Hirschman, the guys really like Nick. I’m not saying that they don’t like Connor, but the guys really gravitate towards Nick. Again, he is another guy with a big arm. What he has to do is improve from the mental aspect of the game. Sometimes when you have a big arm, you can throw your way through mistakes. I want him to be better about knowing where his issues are and not trying to throwing through mistakes. With him, it is just slowing the game down a little. Part of it is the mental preparation, feeling comfortable enough with what we’re doing.”

On Jordan Webb – “Jordan Webb’s biggest attribute is the fact that he’s played in 19 games and none of these other guys have played in a game. Nick played a little bit against Arizona State, but none of these guys have played any true meaningful minutes. With Jordan, having played in some games, you can definitely see that. He does a good job of working the pocket. He doesn’t have the biggest arm, but he gets it there and generally gets it there on time. It’s a fairly catchable ball. Those are the guys basically in a nutshell.”

On Making A Decision On Quarterbacks – “My timetable, I wish I could do it tomorrow so I could sleep. We’ll have to let it play out. We’ll have a scrimmage next Saturday. I’d like to come out of that having a better idea of where things are. I’m not going to rush it just to rush it. If we know before that, then we know before that. I think it’s fair to everyone involved. When we know, let’s do it. Whether it’s a battle for the backup position or whether it’s our backup, we have to get the reps going for that guy. Right now, we’re splitting the reps equally. As soon as we know, we’ve got to give that guy a good dose of reps. Right now, whether it’s the guys that haven’t played, they still need the reps. If it’s Jordan, he needs the reps because he’s new on the offense. There’s a reason that we have to get it done sooner than later if we can, so we can get those guys going on the offense.”

On Coaching Changes In The Pac-12 - “In the past, each coach was required to be an expert on a certain team in our conference but because of changes, we are not really doing that this year. We are focused right now on Colorado State and Sacramento State. Those are the only two programs that we have focused on right now. We’ll see. We’ll have enough time once the tape starts running in, we’ll have time to evaluate those new coaches. From our defensive standpoint, you have an idea of what UCLA will do. The same goes for Arizona and ASU. You’ve got a good idea. It’s the same with (Mike) Leach (at Washington State). They aren’t going to change. It’s just getting a feel for what they are going to do on the other side of the ball. We’ll have enough time to get ready for that.”

On The Class of 2012 - “I feel good about it. I do. I feel like the guys we have in, I feel good about it. It’s a big step in the right direction. We addressed some positional needs and they are good players. I think that they will help us as we continue to build this thing back.”

On Which Positions The Freshman Will Make An Impact  - “They are going to have to play everywhere. Defensive backs, d-line, receivers, running back, maybe as returners. Quarterback is going to be a young, new guy. Make sure you get a program.

On The Run Game - “Now that we’re in pads we’ll get a better feel for that. We’ll get a chance to see who that guy is that will be behind Tony [Jones]. Whether it’s Josh Ford or D.D. [Goodson] or Donta Abron or Terrence Crowder - all of those guys have had their moments. Right now, out of the younger guys, Donta and Terrence are a little farther ahead than Davien [Payne].”

On Full Backs – “A guy that has had a very good camp is Christian Powell. He can run and catch. He’s physical. He came in here about 12 to 15 pounds lighter than he was on his recruiting trip. He is a legit 235, ripped up. He can lift the world. He’s not stiff; he’s very athletic, very fluid, good hips. He can run routes so he’s a guy that Coach Bieniemy is real excited about. Clay Norgard, having him for spring, he’s made improvements. Alex Wood, so we have some fullbacks. Last year, we were kind of piece-milling at a few positions to try to get people out there. This year, we don’t have to do that. This year we have depth. This year we have players that are natural players at their position. That helps. When the ball snaps, your instincts have to come in because it’s not going to happen how you drew it up. When you’ve played that position, when you’ve been in it and seen it several times, you know how to react. That’s a positive. We’ll see this afternoon. We’ve got a lot of teamwork going on and a bunch of live stuff in there. We’ll see what backs can do it when they know they are going to get hit.”

On The Quarterback Competition - “It’s healthy. I think part of that is because the offensive line, they usually don’t know who is behind them. That’s good. We’re young enough everywhere else where there are not a lot of preconceived ideas about who should be the guy or favorite. Connor Wood has been here just a year and Jordan Webb, a few months. Nick Hirschman is kind of the incumbent due to his time here. There’s been so much turnover in our roster with new guys coming in that it’s kind of a wash. I don’t anticipate it being controversial. I don’t know why I said that.”

On The Pac-12 - “The Pac-12 is good. When I started at UCLA, I was surprised at the overall depth of this conference. It’s a very deep conference. It’s a good conference. I think that the changes that were made make it even more exciting. To be the Pac-12 Champion, you’re going to have to earn it. It’s not going to be where you play one game and the rest of the games you can get by with your backups. If you get nicked up, it can be enough to cost you a championship in this conference. You come to Colorado in late November and it’s one of those days, if you’re a warm weather team, that’s enough to cause you problems. That’s the great thing about this conference. The skill guys, the quarterbacks, it’s a heck of a conference.”

On National Awareness Of The Pac-12 - “When I was in Washington D.C. I remember trying to watch my son (Taylor) play (at UCLA). If it was a night game, I would be in the locker room the next day, double fisting coffee. If you don’t have an invested interest, you’re not going to stay up late for a game that kicks off at 7 p.m. out here. It’s amazing living in D.C. how you wake up and they are just playing. It’s 10 o’clock and it’s going all day. By 10 that night, you can’t take another game. That will always be an issue that you have to battle. I think Larry Scott has done a great job with the TV contract and with the Pac-12 Network, getting us in situations where we can get into homes, where we can have better times as far as playing. I think what he has done has really helped put our conference out there and given us a chance for people to see why we are such a good conference.”

On Colorado’s Coaching Staff - “It does a lot to have the continuity. We’re learning each other, too. I think when you sit back and look at it I recall the USC game, standing on the sideline. Coach Brown is sitting there just beside himself. I told him that everything was okay, that we would have some help on the way. We were playing with a patchwork secondary. All the work that he puts in; what a coach. It’s funny, we go out there now and we’re getting two or three interceptions a day. Last year, that would be a month. He’s got those guys playing. The coaches understand what we want in a scheme standpoint. Kanavis [McGhee] has done a very good job with the defensive ends. I’m excited to be able to see Chidera [Uzo-Diribe] and those other guys, how their game has gone to another level. Offensively, just being in the same room, it’s different being on the offensive side. They are all idea guys. There are five ways to run this pass route and they all argue for their one way to run it. Then you have the O-line coach saying “I don’t care as long as it’s not a seven step drop.” Going through all of those arguments and having the guys understand that they all want the same thing, which is to win and be the best that they can be. There’s a lot more comfort level with the whole staff. We can get on each other and everyone knows where we are coming from when we tease each other or say something. That translates down to the players. They can feel it; they can sense it and they are hearing the same message from everyone. It’s all the same message. All of that stuff really is important. When you look at successful programs, they are able to keep their coaches together and have that kind of chemistry. We all understand what the goal is. There is no confusion about what is expected. The kids are hearing one consistent message.”

On Wide Receiver Paul Richardson- “He’s running on the side. He’s trying to help the younger receivers. I don’t know what the next step is for him, when it comes to routes or cutting or any of that. He’s still progressing. He’s already ahead of what he should be doing. I know those injuries are typically nine months, so whether he’s a six month guy or a seventh month guy, I don’t know what the time table will be. We probably won’t know the answer to that until we get a little further along with his rehabilitation.”

On Challenges Freshman Defensive Backs Will Encounter - “They’ll face it. Part of the reason is that we had some suspensions and injuries that have forced us to this patch work. We have Parker Orms back, so that helps. When Parker played, we seemed to be a little bit better back there. He’s very smart. He gets the guys lined up. Terrel Smith is a guy that has really grown and matured. Last year we played him at corner, he’s not a corner but we had to do it. Some of the guys that were playing out of position are going to get to play their natural position. The younger guys, Crawley, Wright, Hall, Mosley. Walker, we’ll end up redshirting him. He had a finger injury that he’ll need to get surgery on at some point. Those other four guys, they all get it. If you play for Coach Brown, you’re going to be prepared to play on Sunday. If you’re going to play on Sunday, you can’t play one-coverage. There are different ways you are going to play man, different ways you are going to play cover two, different zone pressures - these guys all get it. I hate using coach clichés but they get it. From the jump, it all makes sense to them. It’s all natural for them. For now, it’s all technique and little things for them. We’ve got to get them out of some of their high school habits. When you’re the best or the fastest one out there, you aren’t worried about a guy running by you. We’ve got some guys that will go by you. We have some things that will put you in a bad position. For Coach Brown, that’s great because he can focus on technique and that says a lot. I tell the players that their job is to know what to do. Our job as coaches is to teach them how to do it. When we can get to the point where we’re teaching you that, and we’re teaching you the game within the game. Then you’re playing at a higher level. The fact that these guys have come in at a point where they understand what to do, Coach Brown is more focused on how to do things, and that says a lot about Coach Brown. Having said that, Greg Henderson is a very good player for us. He played well. This year, he’s continuing to improve. He had his moments last year. Still, as a freshman, you’re going to take some lumps. When Lane Kiffin gets up there and gives a scouting report, he says “so and so, freshman corner”, trust me, they are going to design stuff to see just what kind of corner he is. You’ve got to know what’s going to happen. So you take your knocks, just like you do as a rookie in the league. I expect them to win more battles than they lose. Greg did. These guys will continue to help us improve. They allow us to blitz. They free up a lot of stuff, just from a defensive standpoint, when you know you can cover longer than two seconds. You know you won’t have to sit back there with your fingers crossed and hope.” 

On Recruiting Players That Understand The Game - “There are certain things that I believe you can find out about a kid when you’re talking to him. You can find out if football is something that is really important to him. You can really tell. They can say it, but there are certain things that I think you can really find out about how football rates for them. I believe that if football is really important to you, then you’ll go to class, you’ll do your schoolwork and you’ll life. If it’s really important to you, you’ll do the right things most of the time. When it’s really important, you’ll make sure that nothing gets in your way. You’ll be able to go out there and do what you love to do. When you go out and you’re recruiting these kids, I don’t get caught up in the three or four thing, you’re all zero starts when you get here. At the end of the day, some of these kids, that’s it for them. They want to collect as many offers as they can. They have to fight and compete for it, and then they shrink, they disappear. They don’t know how to handle adversity. When we’re going through that process, that’s one of the things we really try to talk about. We try to get a good feel for it. A lot of these kids, it’s all they have. However at the same time, part of our job is to help them figure out what else is out there. Football is going to be done at some point. So what are they going to do once it’s done? There’s a lot that goes into it. I think that our stuff does a very good job at evaluating players and finding out from guys if it’s something that is truly important to them. When I look at this class, there are a lot of guys that understand it. They understand it.”

On Wide Receivers Making Progress- “I’ve seen it out of [Nelson] Spruce. I’ve really tried to focus on getting him on a lot of little things. I think those are the things that can help him become a very productive player for us. He very rarely drops the ball. That’s obviously one of the first things you want out of your receivers. He runs good routes. Right now we’re trying to work on different ways with him to create space. He’s a guy that we can definitely lean on. Tyler McCulloch, he’s a guy that is really starting to take that next step. I’m always telling him to be a big guy that plays big. Let’s play that way. He’s starting to understand what that means. Last year, he was lacking the strength that he’s getting now. Malcolm Blacken has done a great job with all of our guys this summer. Once you get that strength and that confidence, I see him continuing to grow. Those are the things that from a receiver’s standpoint that you can see some of the transformation that you want to see out of those guys.”

On This Year’s Recruiting Class Compared To Previous Classes - “From a D-line stand point, I feel like this class is up there with the class when we had [Justin] Bannan and [Tyler] Brayton. On the back end, I don’t know if we’ve ever recruited that many guys in one class like we have that have the talent that those guys have. We’ve had talented guys, one here and one there. I don’t know if we consistently in one class got some guys that really have the opportunity to be impact players - that many of them on the back end. The depth of this class at those two positions, I don’t recall us every having the depth that we’ve got in this class. I talk about the guys up front, [Tyler] Henington and [Josh] Tupou, [Justin] Solis, Samson [Kafovalu], all four of those guys consistently show up. In one form or another, they show up. They don’t always do things right, but they are passionate about how they play. I’m always telling those guys that we’re not tackling, to stay away from the quarterback. I’m always telling them to not grab them, to just let them go. They know one way. We have a lot of depth there. I don’t recall us every having a class like that.”

On The Tailbacks - “When you know you’re not going to get hit, there are a lot of skill guys that when we’re running around, they all know no one can hit them. The second you have to put all the gear on, guys get slower and they can all of a sudden see everything. One guy I know that is like that is Gerald Thomas. He had a play the other day where he made one guy miss him twice on the same play. It was funny, it really was. He has it. He had a nice touchdown yesterday in the scrimmage. When he turns up the field, he explodes. He just goes.”

On Opening The Season Against Colorado State - “It doesn’t really matter to me. I think it depends on your team. When you have a veteran team, you don’t care who you play. When you have a young team, I’d like to get Creek [Cherry Creek High School] on the schedule. You want the guys to just be able to get the kinks out. It is what it is. As a player and as a coach, it has been all over the map. I don’t know when it dictates when it goes first or when it goes third. I had the opportunity to spend a little time with Coach [Jim] McElwain in Arizona and he seems like a very good guy. I know he’s trying to do some things. I think he’s a good coach and I think he’ll get them going again.”

On Patience With A Young Team - “We’re continuing to change, continuing to develop our system. That will keep going. I have had to have more patience. I think I’ve done a good job, but the other coaches may disagree. I feel like I haven’t had as many animated conversations with the players as I did last year. I think I have gotten better with that. Part of it is that I know that they are young guys. I expect the seniors to know. I feel like I’ve been better with having patience. Our staff has also been better. We understand that there is going to be some growing pains. The things that I will never get over are when it’s effort and when it’s flat out going to the whistle. If you can’t do that, it doesn’t matter if you are a freshman or a senior, it’s not negotiable.

On Veteran Leadership - “A lot of guys are stepping up and doing the right thing. We have a leadership council that has fourteen players on it, from freshman to seniors. It shows me that this summer we did things as a team. It also lets me know that we know each other. Last year I asked one of our players, who was a senior, to tell me about Tony Jones. All he could tell me is that he was a running back and that he is from the eastern United States. As I tell our players, we’re not going to have the best players, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be the best team. We can’t be the best team if we don’t know each other. If we don’t care for each other and don’t respect each other, we don’t have a chance. I feel like that is there. I had about 60 of the guys over to my house before camp and it was great. They were playing pool, playing PlayStation, shuffle board, poker - they were having a great time. It was great having them around. I think there is a true respect and appreciation for each other on this team this year.

On The General Perception Of CU’s Football Program - “I don’t know what the perception of our program is. I got a lot of e-mails, if you’re referring to the incident that we had. I can only speak for when I’ve been here, the last two years. We had an incident last week. I’ve had a lot of people come up and tell me that they appreciate the way that I handled things. That is was done quickly. There are 105 kids that I have to take care of and do they do it right all the time? No. Do I want them to? Yes. Do they know what is expected of them? Yes. If they don’t do what they are supposed to do, they will be punished. To sit there and say how I think people perceive our program, I can’t honestly do that. I can just tell you what people say to me. I got some e-mails about how I handled the incident and they were all good.”

On The Kicking Game - “We’re a work in progress there. [Will] Oliver has picked up where he left off. Justin Castor has become more consistent. I can see us using him in long field goals or as the kickoff guy. Darragh [O’Neill] has become stronger, more consistent with his hang time. Zach [Grossnickle] is competing and pushing them. That’s good to see. Our kicking game is expected to improve from last year. Will [Oliver] hit a dry spot, but I think he’s bounced back. We’ll be better in the return and in the cover game due to the fact that we have more speed and more athletes. We’ll see, we practice it a lot. It will not be from lack of practice.”

Will Pericak, Senior Defensive Tackle

On improving as a player
“I picked up technique from playing my freshman and sophomore years. Then we got this new coaching staff in and they were teaching a new technique, so I had to pick that up. Right now, I feel very comfortable with what I have to do. Now it’s all about improving on the fundamentals and getting everything right.”

On becoming a more physically fit player
“We did a before and after picture. It was pretty impressive. Afterwards, I had definitely thinned down. It is definitely impressive what [strength and conditioning] coach [Malcolm] Blacken has done.”

On making a bowl appearance
“That’s our goal. We’ve got to get to a bowl game. I haven’t been to a bowl game and I’ve been here five years. A bowl game is definitely what we’re looking at and we’re going to get it.”

On the freshman class
“The coaches definitely got their feet under them with recruiting. They know the type of players they want. You can definitely see that the recruiting classes are getting better and better. This will put pressure on everyone to get better and compete. In the end, that’s what a good program is.”

Alex Lewis, Sophomore Offensive Lineman

On the offensive line
“The O-line definitely is different this year. Last year, there was some confusion with the line’s job. There were struggles. We didn’t trust each other. This year, everyone is a lot closer. The camaraderie is definitely there. We trust each other a lot more. We are a lot more confident with our calls. We’re constantly talking; no one is quiet on the line. We’re trying to grow as a unit.”

On offensive performance
“You can’t just play football with nine or ten guys. All eleven guys need to be playing at once. Everyone needs to be on the same page. We’ve been watching film and correcting our mistakes. We’ll come out a lot stronger.”

On offensive performance during camp
“You can tell it’s a young team, but you can also tell that this group gets it a lot more than last year’s team. We may be young, but we understand the playbook. Being young players, we know that we have to step up. We can’t slack off. We have to get in the weight room every day and get in our playbooks every night. I think being young is an advantage because we’ll have time to grow. That’s going to make us that much better.”

Connor Wood, Sophomore Quarterback

On offensive performance during camp
“The defense has had some good days the past few days. They’ve done a real good job. Our offense needs to step it up, including the quarterback position. We all need to step it up. We know the plays; we just need to execute them better. The potential is absolutely there. The effort is there. As long as the effort is there, then we’re good. We can make mistakes, as long as we correct them. As long as the effort is there, then I’m comfortable with it.”

On quarterback competition
“I don’t think we’re feeling any tension. I think we’ve done a good job with letting the stuff that happens on the field, stay on the field. When we’re off the field or in the meeting room or hanging out, there’s no competition. That’s really good, that’s what you want.”

Paul Richardson, Junior Wide Receiver

On overcoming injury
“I’m progressing really well. I’m having fun training and watching my team every day.”

On being a leader to a young team
“Basically, I’m trying to do what Scotty McKnight did for me. I’m just trying to be a big brother and constructively criticize them. I’m trying to let them know that you need to continue to make plays and not take any steps back.”

On the freshman class
“I like the energy that the freshmen have brought in. Usually when freshmen come in, they are very timid. With these young guys coming in now, they come in with a lot of swagger; they come in with a lot of attitude and a lot of confidence. As far as contributing to the team, they are doing really well.”

On the defense’s performance during camp
“Right now our defense is doing really well. We have a strong defense. A lot of people don’t respect our defense. We’ve had a lot of injuries; however, we are going to be led by our defense.”

Nick Kasa, Senior Tight End

On making the switch to tight end
“The switch was really good for me. I’m really excited. It’s kind of like starting football all over again. The excitement is there. I love playing tight end.”

On leading a young team
“I definitely see myself taking on a leadership role. I think all of the older players can do that. All the freshman players coming in are really good guys. It will be easy for us to be put in that leadership role.”

On offensive performance during camp
“We’re putting in new plays. We need to get those down. Once we get them down, the physicality will definitely be there.”

Nate Bonsu, Junior Defensive Tackle

On training camp so far
“Practice has been going real good working with the D-line. With all the freshmen, there are going to be some mistakes, but everyone is coming along and working really hard. Everything starts with the defense, and as a unit, we’ve been doing pretty well. We need to carry the defense and go out there and ball hard.”

On the freshmen
“It’s difficult and fun at the same time working with the freshmen. We do have some older guys at key positions and we’ve been trying to help [the freshmen] learn to get into the books and study their plays. They’ve been doing well with that. Obviously, there’s going to be some growing pains when you come from high school and they expect to contribute as soon as they get here, but we’re all behind them trying to help out.”

On if any freshmen have stood out
“My roommate right now is Tyler Henington, and he’s a good guy so I’m trying to help bring him along. John Tuso and Justin Solis and all the freshmen D-linemen are real close and we worked hard all summer to get those guys into it so that the first week of practice won’t be a shock to them. We’re going to need every single one of them to contribute.”

On the team’s work ethic
“We’ve been working hard in the spring, and guys continued that in the summer, watching film together and studying. I’m proud of all the guys and the way they’ve been working.”

On his expectations for the season
“I want to be healthy, I want to be able to contribute and go out there and work hard and do my best for the team. I want to be a leader out on the field for all the freshmen and the rest of the team.”

Tony Jones, Sophomore Tailback

“It’s been going great, we’re all looking good, we’re all getting better and better every day. [Offensive coordinator and running back] coach [Eric] Bieniemy has been hard on us about everything. We’re definitely getting better and we’re looking forward to the season.”

On Eric Bieniemy as a coach
“He’s always going to be tough on us. He wants us to play at a high level at all times. He expects us to be the best that we can be. I definitely give him credit for that. He yells a lot, but we definitely know where he wants us to be.”

On helping the younger running backs
“Rodney (Stewart) passed it down to me, and now I’m going to pass it down to these young running backs. I’m trying to get them straight and get them ahead. We’re coming together well as a group and we’re definitely getting better.”

On being winded at points last season
“I wouldn’t say I got real tired, sometimes I got winded and needed a breather for a couple of plays. Strength and conditioning coach Malcolm Blacken is doing a great job of conditioning us in the summer and in the spring too. My personal goal is to get over 1200 yards this year and to help us win a bowl game.”

Parker Orms, Junior Defensive Back

On the upcoming season
“I’m just excited. I’m having a lot more fun this year just knowing that at any moment I could go down and be on the sideline again. I’m just trying to stay healthy the best I can. I’m just having fun and enjoying it.”

On training camp so far
“This camp, we’ve had a lot of competition and a lot more defensive backs that can go in there and give the No. 1’s a break. We’re not even sure who the No. 1’s are right now. We have had a lot of competition that I think will make us stronger overall. I definitely want to take a leadership role this year, along with Ray Polk, who is the leader of this group. He’s taking the lead for us, we’re following him.”

On possibly playing safety next season
“I made it five practices so far at safety – I haven’t done that since my freshmen year. I’m picking it up a little bit. Every practice, I pick it up a little bit more.”

On the depth at defensive back
“Depth is a key for our defense; we have a lot of guys who can play corner or safety. We also have some other packages where we can use other DB’s. Everybody is running to the ball right now, and if we can get all 11 guys running to the ball on every single play, than that’s going to help us a lot.”

On finishing the year at a bowl game
“A bowl game would be huge. Last year, our goal was to win some away games. We won that one against Utah at the end of the season, and now it’s a bowl game. We don’t want to be known for winning one road game, a couple home games, or beating a high ranked team, we want to make it to a bowl game.”

Nelson Spruce, Freshman Wide Receiver

On training camp
“First week of practice, it was just good to get out there and get the pads back on and start running around with the guys. I think our team is going to be better compared to what it was last year.”

On the differences from last season
“The main difference from last year is everyone has a better knowledge of the playbook. Last year, it was our first year and everybody was kind of struggling. We were installing new plays every day, and now we are installing plays every couple of days. I feel like everybody is really comfortable with the offense and just executing.”

On the wide receivers
“We have some young guys coming in like Jeff Thomas and Gerald Thomas. They have stepped up, I really think they’re learning our playbook and I’m really looking forward to them contributing this season. I think we’re going to have a solid rotation of young guys.”

On redshirting last season
“Sitting out last year helped me in a bunch of ways. Having to sit on the sidelines and watch helped me get a little extra push this year. I’ve played football my whole life, so not being able to play in games was tough and that’s what is really pushing me to get better this year.”

Nick Hirschman, Sophomore Quarterback

On training camp
“The first week of practice went really well, the offensive line is playing incredibly well right now. Some of the younger guys are starting to pick up the system. The running backs are running the ball hard. It’s been a good first couple of days.”

On his injury recovery
“I feel a 100 percent now. I have felt a 100 percent since the B-term of summer school. Now it’s just getting into the swing of football. I’ve been more anxious than I have been in the past.”

On the progression of the team in training camp
“I think the team has made great strides in the first week of camp. The first week, it can be tough for some of the younger guys; this is their first college practice and their first experience of picking up a new offense. I think they’ve done incredibly well. We are going to keep moving forward from here, I think the first week went very well.”

On the youth of the team
“I think our youth is something we definitely embrace. The younger guys have really put it on themselves to learn the system. They are practicing well every day, they really are committed.”

On the QB competition                                                                                                                       ­
“Every day, you want to go out and not really think about the quarterback competition with the other two guys. You want to focus on yourself, making the right reads and right decisions. If you can do that, everything else will work itself out on its own.”­­