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2009 Rutgers Football Media Day Quotes
  • Posted on August 16, 2009 5:29:01 PM
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    Opening Statement

    Thanks for coming out. I know it’s not the old days, since we have been meeting every day after practice, but it is a good opportunity to get with some of the kids if you have anything you want to talk to them about, assistant coaches. So far, I am encouraged by what I see. I think we have a group of guys that are incredibly committed to what we are asking them to do. That gives you a chance, nothing more, but it does give you a chance. If we can keep them healthy, and we can keep getting better, then we will have a chance to win some games. But those are big ifs. I do like the team that is coming together right now. Five practices in, I think I see things that if we continue to get better at, we are going to be pretty good.

    On Kordell Young

    I think yesterday was his best day. I don’t know what that will mean Monday, but yesterday he felt the best that he has felt. I hope that will be encouraging. But you are right; he has to get in there. We are five practices into this thing and it is going to be game preparation before you know it. I hope and pray. I think he is a very valuable member, but it has just been a little tricky with that knee.

    On the kick return and punt return teams

    Drive start is such a critical stat. That talks right to the kickoff coverage and the kickoff return teams. There is a high correlation between drive start and winning, if you win the drive start battle. It is certainly something we need to do better. We were middle of the pack last year, which is unacceptable. I think we have some talented guys returning. I think we have some talented guys blocking. Right now, if we had to play today, I think you would see some mixture in kickoff returns of Devin (McCourty), Tim Brown, Joe Lefeged, Brandon Bing, Mason Robinson – again, I think who it will be will be determined by the situation. I feel comfortable with all of them. Kickoff returns is not as hard as punt returns, obviously.

    Some of these guys are defensive players. If there was a long drive, and they are gassed, we might go with an offensive guy. I feel comfortable with kickoff return.

    Punt return is still in the works. The guy who is a natural at it is Mohamed Sanu. He is very, very good. Joe Lefeged is very good at it. There are a bunch of other guys that are competing, and again, we will have to see how it goes. Specialists in pre-practice and catching punts is one thing, having 11 angry guys coming at you, two of them that are going right on the snap, changes the dynamics a little bit. We are going to have to see. I think as this plays out in the preseason, we will figure out who the number one guy is.

    On the possibility of using two quarterbacks

    There is a chance for anything, and I don’t want to tell you anything that we have to have this. If you had your choice, you would have one. Now there might be a specialty, depending on who the two or three guys are. You might pick a starter, and then have two back-ups. One for this situation, and another for this situation. We will see. I think it is too early to even speculate because we haven’t scrimmaged yet. I want to get them in game situations and see how it unfolds.

    Injury update on Jonathan Freeny

    A guy we didn’t talk about is Jonathan Freeny. He got out of the ice tubs, and his ankle really bothered him. He is on the wait and see list. Hopefully, he will be okay.

    On naming two defensive coordinators and relinquishing the duties

    I think the number one thing that went into it was that we had two guys that would do as good or better of a job that I could do. I try to live by the rules. I should do the things as a head coach that only I can do. There are certain things only the head coach can do in recruiting, certain things only the head coach can do on campus, administration work. I felt like these two guys Bob (Fraser) and Ed (Pinkham) would do a really excellent job and I felt it was time to do that. It gives me a chance to be more involved with the other two phases. I think I did that even when I was doing the defense, but I think it really cuts you out from everything else, so I thought the time was right.

    On some of the possible benefits of letting go of the defensive coordinator duties

    I think instead of getting four hours of sleep, I’ll get six hours of sleep. I think when you are in charge of things, that has a long term effect. You get grumpy; you get dumb when you don’t sleep. Hopefully that helps.

    On how many reps each quarterback will take in the scrimmage

    I have my own thoughts. I’d like to talk to Kirk (Ciarrocca) and Kyle (Flood). We won’t practice today. The players will be with you, and then later they will be with Fan Fest and in between we will do rest and recovery, which are not taxing things, but recovering things for their body. The other half will be meeting with their position coaches. I meet with the staff that are not with their players. The primary point will be how do you want to rotate this thing. I think clearly, Dom (Natale) and Jabu (Lovelace) have to be working up front as the lead guys, and we have to figure out how the other three get their reps and who they get them with and who they get them against.

    When you are involved in a quarterback battle, it is critically important who drives the proverbial bus, but you have to make sure that you get the other stuff too. It is not as simple as just two guys, although it is that important that if it has to be, it has to be.

    On having several sets of brothers on the team

    I think every place I have coached in college, we have had that. I think it speaks to the stability of the program. The experience that the older sibling has and the family has – they have a comfort level and know you are going to take care of their son. To me, whether it is fathers and sons or nephews or brothers, it is cool. Hopefully, I am not old enough to have any fathers and son combos yet.

    On the youth for RU at wide receiver

    Young receivers, if you look at them, are really a physically impressive group. They are big. They can run. There are so many little things in the pass game. If you could just do it on air, it would be easy. You push up seven yards, and you push up seven steps, break it off on a 45 degree angle, and the ball would be waiting there for you. But those defenders, they get in your way. They make you change your route; they make you read on the run. That is where our young guys, if they have issues, it is that because they may get that part of it right, but they focus so hard on what the coverage is and how to avoid the man, that when the ball comes, they drop it. That is where you become a complete receiver. Quite frankly, the better the athlete, he can do all that stuff and still catch it if he’s a little distracted. That is recruiting. That is already done.

    On the team’s fullbacks

    Jack is our starting fullback for sure. Right now we are trying to find depth for the backup fullback. (Andres) Morales is one guy. We are taking a look. I don’t know, I have to see him in the scrimmage, but we put a freshman there as well as Junior Solice. That is a position where we don’t have a ton of depth. You can do some things schematically that you don’t have to have the fullback be that guy. You can move the tight end and have him be that guy. That takes us to our next area, where we don’t have a ton of depth and that is our tight end position. We’ll see.

    On freshman tight end Tony Trahan

    Tony is a talented guy. He has very good hands. He has a maturity about him, an emotional maturity, that he handles this stuff very well. That gives him a head start, if that makes sense. I think the young tight ends – all three of them – are good players. (Paul) Carrezola has been hurt, so we really haven’t gotten to see what he can do. (Malcolm) Bush is learning and, as he learns, I think he has a chance to be really good. It is going to take a little time. Carrezola’s hamstring – it could happen to anybody. The back issue was a freak deal. He bent over backwards. I am sure it is frustrating to him, but I have been doing this long enough to know that this is the nature of the game.

    On freshmen enrolling early

    I definitely think it is the way of the future, I don’t suggest it. I think it is an independent decision. Don’t mistake that for I don’t like it, because the guys that want to do that – it’s the chicken or the egg. The guys that want to start early, are so driven and so focused that it is not a shock that they play early. It kind of goes hand in hand. So far, that has been the way it has been for us. You look at Andre Civil and Andre tweaked his hamstring, but he was doing very well early on. Clearly a benefit of a whole spring semester. It can really help them.

    The thing I make them promise me if they are going to do that is you’re going to go back for your prom and you’re going to back and walk at graduation. When I was younger, I used to not really think those landmarks were important, but as you get older, times flies. You better make sure you memorialize those things that are important. They promise me that, so as long as they do that, I’m OK with it.

    On the physical shape of Ryan D’Imperio

    He is in great physical condition, so that means he really trained hard this summer. From a football knowledge standpoint, he has a very high football IQ. He did not have it when he got here, but he has worked very hard to get himself in that situation. He is the guy that makes it go out there. He is setting the front. He’s making the calls. He plays with such a high level of intensity, that others feed off him.

    On Jim Dumont and Clem Udovich

    Jimmy is in the two-deep in a lot of different spots. I don’t know what that will translate to in game action. A lot of times, that is predicated on conditions – whether it be injury or weather. Jimmy is a guy we trust and can count on. He’s been with us for awhile. Udo is a back-up snapper. He is involved in an intense competition for the back-up spot behind Drew DePaola, so we’ll hold judgment for that one.

    On returning all five starters on the offensive line

    We are certainly in a better spot than we were last year, but they are still not the ancient sages up there. You have Art Forst who started seven, eight games. He is a young guy. Caleb Ruch hasn’t played a lot of football. They are learning for sure. It is nice that you have Ryan Blaszczyk and Kevin Haslam helping them. Anthony (Davis) is a special athlete for a man of his size. He has done that. He’s gotten his weight back in line. He is a great competitor. You can just see his whole countenance change, now that he is back with the ones. He is ready to play.

    On how many carries is the right total for a running back

    Ray (Rice) had special, physical gifts. He never got hit, very rarely got hit flush. That is why he was able to stay healthy. I don’t know if any of these guys are like that. I think they are going to take their shots. Having said that, I would like one guy to be the primary ball carrier, but that has got to play out through competition. If I make it that way, I think we are cheating the team. Having said that, I think both – Jourdan (Brooks) and Joe (Martinek) – are having a good camp so far. Scrimmages will be important.

    On the defense becoming a strength

    With a new quarterback and two new receivers, we need the defense to be very good and we need the kicking game to be very good. To answer your question, I think the front seven will be our strength, although I don’t think the secondary is going to be a weakness. I just think relative, the front seven should, with experience and the physical nature and the depth that we have, be very good. I get a little worried at linebacker if something happens to our starters. We don’t have great depth that is proven, yet. We have young, talented guys that haven’t proven themselves yet. That is going to be important, how those young guys perform in scrimmages to make sure that if we have to rest a linebacker, or one goes down, that we can still run our entire defense. 

    On San San Te and the kicking game

    I think, without a doubt, that back injury was really hampering him last year. He is hitting the ball with a lot better pop and he is just more confident. The kickoff duties we have not decided yet. I think Teddy (Dellaganna) has made vast improvements in his ability, so we are in a competition there. I think they both would like to do it. That is a good thing. Sometimes punters don’t want to (kick off). They think it might affect my punting. Teddy is really chomping at the bit to do both, so that’s good.

    On Logan Ryan

    He is going to be really good. I don’t know when, whether it will be this year or not. But he has the tools.

    On Alex Silvestro and George Johnson on their potential to become impact players

    That is yet to be determined. They have the ability to be impact players. George (Johnson) has the ability to be whatever he wants to be. If you could program one and have it appear in front of you that would be what you would program. He has played very well. I don’t want to insinuate that he hasn’t. But to be an impact player, he needs to do it consistently and have an impact on every game. Alex (Silvestro) I agree with you. I think Alex is more prepared to play end now, having gone inside for a year. He weighs in the mid-250’s, which is good. A year from now, he is 270. 


    Senior C Ryan Blaszczyk
    On his third straight season as a starter
    "It's all about taking care of your body and being able to take care of your body is one of the jobs of a player at Rutgers. When you take care of your body, you can play for long periods of time."

    On strengths of Rutgers’ offensive line
    "We're a very physical group that returns nine of our top 10 guys and we communicate a lot better. Things are going a lot more smoothly both on and off the field.”

    On the progression of the offense
    "The offensive coaching staff has thrown a lot of plays at us, pretty much the entire playbook in the first couple days and the offense has really adapted to it. The young guys are starting to show that once they get a grasp of it the can really be players for us."

    Sophomore RB Jourdan Brooks
    On adjusting as a running back in college compared to playing fullback in high school
    "I think the biggest adjustment was carrying the football because in high school I really didn't carry the football that much, I got in a couple times a game. But getting the ball every day, 15 times a practice helps out a lot."

    Senior LB Ryan D'Imperio
    On being the starting middle linebacker
    "It's always good when you can set a goal and achieve it. It's something I worked hard on and looked forward to for a really long time."

    On the defense's mentality
    "We're a very good defense. We have a lot of guys that are stepping up and we have really good depth on defense. We have a great mentality out there, we're not laid back, but we're also not overly aggressive."

    Junior S Joe Lefeged
    On the veteran defensive unit
    “It is very important to have the guys we have coming back. We have solid leadership with Devin McCourty, Ryan D’Imperio, and Damaso Munoz, which is very important. They are leaders both on the field and off the field which is going to help us a lot.”

    On the secondary
    “We need to can come out day one and play fast and react to whatever is presented to us. The guys we have in the secondary have experience and we have worked together in the offseason to become closer as a unit.”

    Senior QB Jabu Lovelace
    On being one of the guys that will lead this offense
    “I want to help contribute to this team. We want to be fast, fluid and compete at a very high rate as a unit. It is a huge honor to be one of the people to lead a group of guys into battle every week. Even if you are not leading it, you are showing people how to prepare and compete to get better.”

    On having the entire starting offensive line returning
    “It is tremendous. Those guys are seasoned veterans with game experience and you can’t replace that. It gives you confidence that you have a group of guys in front of you that know how to win and will help me in any moment.”

    Joe MartinekSophomore RB Joe Martinek
    On where he fits in the running back mix
    "I'm basically just trying to do the best I can and whatever the coaches decide will make the best decision for the team."

    On seeing game experience last season
    "It was a huge experience, one I've been waiting for my whole life. I definitely learned a lot about what it takes to get on the field and what it takes to win. This past experience helped me get more reps and my confidence up."

    On his approach to training camp
    "I think more confidence really helped with all of the reps I've been getting, and just being more focused and doing whatever it takes to help the team win."

    Senior CB Devin McCourty
    On your preparation going into the season
    “We need to stay focus and make sure we do everything right. Our coaches talk about to have a good season, you need your seniors to play the best football of their career and I am focusing on what I need to do to help this team better this year.”

    On playing without your brother Jason after he graduated and filling his role at the CB spot
    “Playing without Jason is definitely an adjustment, but I am starting to get used to it. He is doing well out there in Tennessee. I have followed him closely. We talk every day. Throughout camp so far, all the corners have been doing pretty well and I feel confident in whoever plays cornerback for us.”

    Senior LB Damaso Munoz
    On the upcoming season
    “We are looking forward to an exciting season and carry on momentum from last season. We have to stay focused.”

    On your senior season
    “Being a senior, I want to go out on top. Coming here when the program was where it was and now it is where it is at now has been a good experience and I want to leave with this program on top.”

    On your experience at Rutgers so far
    “It has been a good experience. We had a lot of growing pains starting out 1-5 last season but we made strides and got on a winning streak and we want to continue that into this season.”

    Senior QB Domenic Natale
    On your goals for the season
    “I want to help run this offense effectively and do everything I can for my teammates to help this team win. I want to do whatever it is the coaches ask me to do.”

    On what excites you about the season
    “I am looking forward to being able to play in front of the crowd in my home state and my family. I want to give this state something it will be proud of.”

    On being one of the guys that will lead this offense
    “You always want that opportunity and I am one of the guys who has that opportunity now and it is exciting. I am looking forward to that leadership role. We have a good group of seniors and we are all good friends that can share that leadership role.”

    On having the entire starting offensive line returning
    “It is huge to have everyone back on the line. It will hopefully give us an established running game and open up the passing game. It starts with the offensive line and we have to have an established offensive line to run the offense. It is a huge upside for us.”

    Junior DE Alex Silvestro
    On making the move to defensive end
    "It's definitely better on the outside. Playing end is more natural than playing in the three technique or inside."

    On what can be expected from the defense
    "I have high expectations for the defense. We have a lot of people coming back and a lot experience, which should be good."

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