Q: How anxious are you for the beginning of the season?
A: “I can’t wait. I’m tired going against our defense. It’s time to see a new team, we’re ready to play and I’m excited.”
Q: After not a great scrimmage last Saturday it appears that the offense has bounced back ever since…
A: “The offense is at a point that it has never been to as far as understanding (the scheme) and the rate that we are producing productive play. Saturday was an off day, I wouldn’t consider it a bad day. We were still 20 out 27 (passing) as a group. We had a solid run game, R.J. (Robinson) had a great day. Offensive line had a good day. We know how to bounce back from days like that and we’re not gonna get stuck on anything.”
Q: Going through a quarterback battle yourself last year, have you talked to Taylor Kelly and Mike Bercovici about that or given them advice?
A: “A little. The main thing I told them is be yourself. Don’t get hung up on every single throw you make, because you’re going to make mistakes. Don’t go out there and compete against the other guy, but go out there, get better as an individual and stay focused on your game.”
Q: It’s been a couple of days since the season-ending injury to Brandon Magee. What has been the mood around the locker room?
A: “It’s not a bad thing, but we haven’t noticed (Magee’s absence). We got plenty of guys that can fill his position. We have Ollie (Oliver Aaron), Colin (Parker), Anthony Jones…there are plenty of quality guys that can fill that spot. Injuries are a part of football. In fact I heard the other day that the Green Bay Packers suffered (injuries to) seven starters in their training camp and they won the Super Bowl. We lost three or four (starters). We can’t look in the rearview mirror and we’re just going forward right now.”
Q: Is that how you deal with injuries? Must be frustrating to see your friends, guys that you work with injured in spring ball and fall camp. How do you deal with those types of things?
A: “Saturday was definitely a down day, because everybody felt for Brandon. We weren’t thinking about his play on the field, we were thinking of him as a teammate and a friend. The team was very down on Saturday, but we had to bounce back on Sunday and so far we had a great week of practice and we just have to go forward.”
Q: What’s your opinion of how the run game has performed so far in camp ?
A: “I think our running backs and offensive line are doing great. Everyday they’re getting better. We’re a little bit banged up, but Jamal (Miles) is back in the rotation now so we’re just missing Cameron (Marshall) and Deantre (Lewis). But the other guys are doing great. Kyle (Middlebrooks) has tremendous vision, R.J. does, Jamal does…Marcus Washington has made huge strides since spring ball. So, I think you will definitely see an improved running game this year.”
Q: There are a lot of young wide receivers stepping up in fall camp like Kevin Ozier, Rashad Ross…how do you think those players are doing?
A: “Kevin, we call him K.O., he’s a playmaker. He works his butt off and is a guy that hasn’t missed any optional workouts all summer. He was at everything, has a great attitude, a smart player…he’s a guy that might get some playing time this fall. But he’s still young and has many of years with us. He’s one guy that stands out amongst many.”
Q: Can you give us a sense what’s it like in year two of the Noel Mazzone offense in terms of being in a comfort zone and the progress of the offense?
A: “Last year we had, what we thought was a firm grasp of the offense. But now looking back to last year to where I’m at now, it’s night and day. Coach Mazzone and Steven (Threet) may have a little mishap on signaling in a play but that’s OK because I know what the concept is, I know what we are doing and I can change things. So it’s at that point now, which hopefully leads to more points and more wins.”
Q: That comfort zone probably extends beyond you and to every player on offense…
A: “Definitely. The running backs understand the protection, which is huge. They know when they are hot (receivers). The wide receivers know when they have to break off and be a hot (receiver). They understand why they have to get to this spot on a route…so the team has really grabbed onto the offense and definitely improved.”
Q: What is like having an entire offensive line return all of its starters?
A: “It’s something that I never had at any level of football. So in saying that, I’m very excited. Those five, six guys that are in that rotation work extremely hard. They all had a tremendous off-season and are very smart. I’m just glad that they are my linemen.”
Q: Is Mazzone happy with the pace of the offense?
A: “Yes. In fact, he told us after this practice that he couldn’t be happier. We’re at the point right now where I’m yelling at him to get in the plays faster. I think he’s pretty happy. He told us that the average speed of all quarterbacks is around 10 seconds, after the ball is set and the whistle is blown. If we’re snapping at that point, shoot…I don’t know how much faster we can go. It’s faster than last year, I think we were then around 15 seconds left on the play clock. So right now we’re cruising.”