April 17, 2013
By Jordan Johnson
CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Saluki Football team will play its annual Spring Game on Friday at 7 p.m. at Saluki Stadium, marking the 15th and final team session of the spring season. Head coach Dale Lennon met with the media after the team's practice on Wednesday morning.
Q: "Pretty exciting week for you guys, you know it's the Busch Stadium announcement and then obviously the Spring Game Friday, what's that like for this team?"
A: "There's a lot of things going on this last week. We had the announcement at Busch Stadium, we have a women's clinic coming up and then the spring game, so it's just an exciting time of the year. I think for the football team, the players like having all the interest in the program and hopefully with the spring game we get a chance to show a little bit of who we are."
Q: "What kind of scenario should we expect to see on Friday night offensively and defensively?"
A: "Right now, we are just going to go normal game format. We are going to have defense vs. the offense, it's not going to be a true maroon vs. white. We are just not deep enough to have two separate teams, so it will be scrimmage format but we will be responding according to what is happening on the field."
Q: "The first scrimmage the defense dominated and last week the offense more so. Do you expect to see more balance on Friday night?"
A: "Well, as a head coach I really do hope that it's good give and take, both teams play well, they execute their assignments. You don't want to have a lot of broken plays, so if it's a good give and take I'm going to be happy with the outcome, and then the main thing is to just keep everyone healthy, you just don't want to put anyone at risk here especially at the very end."
Q: "Where do you think each unit has made the most strides this spring so far?"
A: "I think offensively we've really shown a lot of improvement since our first scrimmage. That's normal and I think most programs in the country would probably say that. Defensively, I like where we are at with the comfort of the defense. I think we have good execution when we call the defense, the players are comfortable with the schemes, but both sides have shown steady progress."
Q: "What's been key to the offensive line's improvement this spring?"
A: "I think they've had a very good attitude. Our depth, we are really only two-deep, so a lot of the players are getting a lot of reps and that's how you get better. I think coach O'Boyle has kind of brought in a tough-guy mentality where they're getting after it."
Q: "Have you seen some good give and take this week?"
A: "Monday was a non-padded practice so we backed off a little more with the Monday practice. Today, Wednesday, we really got after it, wanting this to be as much of a work day as any day and today was a good practice."
Q: "You don't have as many returning starters on defense but you have a lot of veteran players. Have you seen that experience rub off on the new guys a lot?"
A: "Returning starters, that's more of a media phrase, because we play so many guys on defense. If you look at the three guys that are starting on the defensive line, they played a lot of football last year, they're getting a lot of reps, our linebackers that are stepping up now at the number one spot, they played a lot of football last year for us. I think our secondary is very experienced, so it doesn't feel like we have an inexperienced defense. We have guys that have played the game, they know what the expectations, are and I think that that has carried over to the type of attitude that they bring to the field."
Q: "How have you seen some of the new guys step up, Tay (Willis) is the perfect example on Saturday?"
A: "I like the transfers that have joined us here in January. They are definitely competitors. I think they will be able to make a positive impact within the program and each one will kind of have their own role as far as how they will contribute. At the same time it's nice to see their hunger. They really want to prove what they're capable of doing and they're all good football players."
Q: "What do you look for out of the secondary?"
A: "Secondary is just being able to make plays in space, open field tackling, making a play on a ball carrier, just their overall instinctive ability as much as anything else. I think that's the key to being a good defensive back is great instincts."
Q: "Who won't be playing on Friday. I saw Terrell (Wilson) on crutches with the Achilles heel and is there anybody else that will not be playing?"
A: "Right now, probably on defense Boo Rogers I don't think will be playing. Actually Ryan Campbell hurt his knee, Victor Burnett still coming back off of his knee, after that everyone is pretty good. On offense, Rick Hicks will not play, P.J. Ellis will not play, Nate Haremza and Ethan Wirth, both those guys will not play, I think that's about it."
Q: "Are you not going live with the quarterbacks Friday night?"
A: "Right now probably not, we will meet as a staff. I like going live but the quarterback coach doesn't, so it's his job to keep them healthy."