MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Select members of the West Virginia University football coaching staff met with the media on Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014, at the Milan Puskar Center Team Room.
Associate Coach (Defensive Coordinator) Tony Gibson
Jewone has come along really well. He fought through some injuries last year and back in the summer time. He has really come into his own. I like where he’s at. He’s got experience. Yesterday, he had a great day. He had a pick.
On Snow’s ability to lead at linebacker
Him and (Linebackers) Jared Barber
and Wes Tonkery
– those guys have all been around and played. We count on Jewone for a lot of stuff right now.
Shaq is doing well. He’s lost some weight and looks good. He’s running around, and I like where he’s at right now. The biggest problem we have right now is we’re repping about 17 linebackers. Everyone’s reps are kind of cut right now. We’ll see where we’re going to be in a week or two.
On the lack of depth last year at linebacker
I think last year – what did we finish with – six or seven (linebackers)? Right now, we brought 18 to camp. Our numbers are really good right now at linebacker. And really, defensively everywhere. I feel really good about it. We’ve got a lot of depth right now. We’ve got guys who are going to hopefully step up and up their game.
Assistant Coach (Offensive Coordinator) Shannon Dawson
On what Dawson has seen from this team through two days
Without pads on, you guys know how camp goes. The only thing I can take out of it is that the communication is better. It’s a whole different story when you have guys who have been in the program for at least a year. With (Quarterback) Clint (Trickett), the communication between him and myself and him and (Coach) Dana (Holgorsen), it’s a lot better than it ever was. The first two days are big communication days. You can tell a little bit about the receivers and stuff, but it’s not football yet until you put pads on. The way that everything is going is pretty smooth – as far as our tempo – it’s been pretty good.
On working with guys who have been in the program for a couple years
It’s simple. College football is about recruiting and developing – it’s as simple as that. You can’t develop players who are not here. Development is coach (Mike) Joseph and those guys in the weight room and having a calendar year to work with those guys to get their bodies ready for college football. You can’t develop people in the weight room if they’re not here on campus. Having guys at least one year in the program is helpful, but obviously we have a handful of guys who have been here for a couple years. Their bodies have changed a great deal. Take (wide receiver) Daikiel Shorts
, for example – Daikiel had to play for us as a freshman last year. He didn’t have the luxury of going through 365 days of Division I college football strength training. That’s tough. We really expect that guy to go out and perform at the highest level when he’s not equipped (last year). Having guys back the next year and going through the summer workouts is huge.
His weight is up. That’s something we just have to stay on. He has to treat his body right. He’s got to be a little more focused on that than most kids do – based on what he’s dealing with. The comfort level with him in our offense is going to help him stay healthy, too. Being unsure where to go with the ball – he’s going to get rid of the ball quicker this year. All that stuff will take care of itself. The biggest thing with him is to stay on the nutrition part of his diet side. Everything football wise, from here on out, we’re just going to continue to get better.
Associate Head Coach (Special Teams Coordinator) Joe DeForest
On how tackling has changed recently with more emphases placed on player safety
When I played football, 30-sum years ago, there was no such thing as a non-contact practice. Every day you just went live. You can’t do that anymore. I agree that you can’t do it all the time for the safety of the kids. It’s a prolonged beating on their bodies. There is a fine line. Tackling does get sloppy, because of the restrictions they put on practice.
On why so many injuries occur now in college football
Nowadays, every single program in the country – it’s year around training. It’s not like I’m a high school kid where I play basketball in the winter and football in the summer. If you play football, you’re training year around. That’s why their bodies are conditioned the way they are and why the collisions are much more violent.
He was hurt last year. He had a groin and another muscle that was bothering him. He kicked about 75 percent. What I’ve tried to do this camp and throughout the fall – we’re going to pair down his reps. He loves to kick. He loves to warmup. Well, that tears his body down. The first two days of practice here have been great. I think he hit a 60-yarder yesterday. His leg strength is the best it’s ever been. I think that comes with strength and conditioning and it comes with not kicking as much.
Senior Associate Head Coach (Defensive Line) Tom Bradley
On tackling periods
When you get to the bowl season, you have to survive the speed of the first quarter, because you’re going against your scout teams when you prepare. You’re always a little leery, because you don’t want to hurt anybody, but you want to make sure that you’re doing enough. I’ve always felt that openers, bowl games and first quarters are when you get used to the speed.
There’s no way that we can duplicate the speed of Alabama. You can’t get caught up to the tempo of that until the first quarter of that game. If you can, you will be in the game.
We’re simulating more types of drills, because of what we have to deal with. We have to find more ways to simulate tackling. We have to be creative as coaches. It’s an art, and it needs practice just like anything else. We have to do it every day to get better.
On summer conditioning
I didn’t even look at last year’s games. I didn’t want to form an opinion on anyone. I think we’re in fantastic condition right now. I think that Mike Joseph and his staff did a fantastic job this summer. I liked that we were able to be there. In the past, we weren’t allowed to go out and watch what was going on in the workouts during the summer. Going into camp, I’ve noticed that we have a whole different game during camp. We used to have to condition a little more during camp, and now they’re already full gear and ready to go. We’ve developed some guys and we have a lot who are rotating in there.
We were able to coach a little bit too. We had so many hours a week, and we used those hours. It gave me a chance to get to know the players better. It wasn’t rushed. We had time to go through things. I became more comfortable with the entire team that way.
Assistant Coach (Cornerbacks) Brian Mitchell
On second year with team
I’m familiar with the players I’m coaching. Most of them have been in the room before, and we’re two steps ahead from where we were last year.
(Sophomore cornerback) Daryl Worley
is bigger, stronger and faster. He’s heavier. He’s the kind of young man that soaks it up like a sponge when you tell him something. He has grown tremendously as well. He’s a kid who is never satisfied, and that happens throughout the whole team. You can’t be complacent.
Depth-wise, no coach is every completely satisfied. We have some fifth-year seniors who have had some significant reps in the Big 12. They’re all healthy, and we are happy with that. You have some juniors who started as freshmen and they have a lot of tools in their tool box. They’re all exactly where we need them to be. They will add to what we need in this conference, which is some good depth and some experience.
He’s a kid that’s well liked on our team. He listens the way you want him to. When he’s with us, he does exactly what we ask him to do. He’s played the position going on his second year, and you can see the growth with him as well.
On the cornerback position
You need guys on two legs that can run. What we do schematically, we’re able to add another guy. We can have four of five corners on the field. We need to have guys that can make plays with space. We need to have position mastery, and make plays that will stick from game one to game 12. It doesn’t matter what they throw at us schematically, we will still have things in our tool box to use.
Assistant Coach (Offensive Line) Ron Crook
On the offensive line
I like the way they think, I like the way they work, and I like the way they listen to me. I can’t tell until my guys can get pads on exactly where we’re at, but I like what I’ve seen so far.
I think that the guys that we have that are in the starting slot we have now have played a lot of football. I feel really good about their potential this season.
They have improved in leadership and technique. I don’t expect those guys to get better and tougher, because they’re already proved that. They can always get better with little details.
On starting line
They’re getting to know each other on the field. They react in certain ways that you can’t get without being on the field. The thing I like about the offensive line is that they all have to work together. The only thing that can definitely help is working out there every day.
Assistant Coach (Running Backs) JaJuan Seider
On first three days of camp
You can tell the difference in the receivers, the running back and everyone really. They’re mad about last year, and you can tell.
Wendell can do everything that Charles Sims could do. We’re teaching all of them how to expand their roles so that they can expand their personnel groups and not have to leave the field.
A guy like Smallwood could be on the field the whole game until he gets tired. By the time we get through camp, I think that all of them could have the potential to do that.
On the slot position
You have to understand coverage, holes and where you’re at certain routes. You’re not at a running back anymore, you’re a wide receiver. They’re all learning right now.