Tag:Media Days
Posted on: July 24, 2011 6:40 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2011 11:32 am

Sylvester Williams making an impression at UNC

Posted by Chip Patterson

Sunday was dedicated to the players at the ACC Football Kickoff. Two representatives from each of the 12 schools made their rounds with the media. This was my takeaway from North Carolina

Questions regarding the ongoing NCAA case were impossible to avoid at the ACC Football Kickoff for North Carolina, but since we're here to talk about the 2011 season it was nice to get some actual football talk from Butch Davis' two representatives here at Pinehurst. Jonathan Cooper has been a pivotal part of the offensive line since he arrived at Chapel Hill, and with more health and experience than ever he thinks this could be their best unit yet. One of the first tasks for the group is opening holes for running back Ryan Houston. Houston redshirted last season after initially sitting out because of the NCAA investigation. The return of the big back has Cooper and his teammates excited for the rushing attack in 2011.

"It's very, very exciting, Cooper explained. "I definitely look forward to running the ball on 3rd and 2. I don't want to run play-action and I don't want to drop back and pass. I want to pound the ball, I think that's the sign of a good offensive line: when you can impose your will. With a good, big back, it'll help a lot to do that."

Earlier this week, Butch Davis identified the offensive and defensive line as the team's strengths heading into camp. One fresh face to the defensive line is transfer defensive tackle Sylvester Williams. Williams is rooming with defensive tackle Tydreke Powell in Chapel Hill. Powell opened up and shared an interesting story about his new roommate and teammate.

"[Williams] is going to be one of the top D-tackles in the country," Powell boasted about his roomy. "When he first got here, we weren't rooming together. I was staying at my fiance then. He called me on Saturday at 8 o'clock [in the morning] and I asked him 'What's up' - I thought something was wrong. He was like 'Come on man, let's go work. We can't get better and we can't be the best d-tackles in the country if we're not working on Saturdays cause everybody else is resting.'

"I knew right then when he called and told me that I knew he was going to be a big force for us. That work ethic is something serious."

Williams and Powell will anchor the middle of North Carolina's defensive line along with Jordan Nix. Powell also shared that the greatest inspiration for him on the field has not been any of the top ranked NFL talent that has come before him, but his two children.
Posted on: July 24, 2011 5:04 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2011 11:32 am

Danny O'Brien looking for the next Torrey Smith

Posted by Chip Patterson

Sunday was dedicated to the players at the ACC Football Kickoff. Two representatives from each of the 12 schools made their rounds with the media. This was my takeaway from Maryland

A season ago, Maryland fans found an early Christmas gift with the emergence of quarterback Danny O'Brien. The true freshman took the conference by storm, racking up 22 touchdowns and just 8 interceptions on his way to being named ACC Rookie of the Year. After coming within a game of the ACC Atlantic Division crown, the Terps have had to undergo an offseason of change in the leadership positions. Out with Ralph Friedgen and offensive coordinator James Franklin (now the head coach at Vanderbilt) and in with Randy Edsall and new offensive coordinator Gary Crowton. But the sophomore believes that the coaching change will not alter the expectations in College Park.

"[Coach Edsall's] goal coming in, he said he's here to win championships," O'Brien told reporters. "If we have a really tight-nit team it's ACC title or bust."

Part of putting together that tight-nit team will include finding a replacement for All-ACC wide receiver Torrey Smith, who was O'Brien's favorite target in 2010. Smith pulled in 67 catches for 1055 yards and 12 touchdowns, numbers that dwarf the rest of the receivers from last year's campaign. When asked who will step up in Smith's absence, O'Brien admitted that was still unanswered.

"That remains to be seen," O'Brien responded. "We've got a lot of guys who don't necessarily have the same stat line Torrey did last year, but made big plays in big games. We have four or five guys that have stepped up in big games, between Kerry Boykins, Kevin Dorsey, Ronnie Tyler, Quintin Mcree, I think one of those guys will step up."
Posted on: July 24, 2011 5:02 pm
Edited on: July 24, 2011 6:04 pm

VT WR Danny Coale wearing multiple hats

Posted by Chip Patterson

Sunday was dedicated to the players at the ACC Football Kickoff. Two representatives from each of the 12 schools made their rounds with the media. This was my takeaway from Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech wide receiver Danny Coale is entering fall camp wearing multiple hats for the Hokies. In addition to being one of the primary returning receivers, the senior has also made himself a player in the competition for the starting punter job. Coale fielded several questions regarding the possible position change, including the challenges of running a deep route on 3rd Down and having to transition right into the kicking game. Coale said he has worked on his conditioning over the Summer, but his "primary role is receiver."

Another interesting piece Coale offered was a comparison between last year's ACC Player of the Year Tyrod Taylor and the Hokies' current starter Logan Thomas. "Their approach is the same, off the field and on the field," Coale explained. "Their attitude towards study is the same. When you have someone who is passionate about the game like Tyrod, that helps."

If the 6-foot-6, 245 pound sophomore can exhibit any of the creative playmaking ability of his predecessor, the Hokies will be tough to scheme against in the league this fall.
Posted on: July 24, 2011 4:22 pm
Edited on: July 24, 2011 4:23 pm

NC State's Glennon taking on leadership role

Posted by Chip Patterson

Sunday was dedicated to the players at the ACC Football Kickoff. Two representatives from each of the 12 schools made their rounds with the media. This was my media day takeaway from N.C. State

One notable absence for many ACC fans will be former N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson. With Wilson now the focus of the Big Ten, attention has turned towards the new man under center: Mike Glennon. Glennon has been compared by head coach Tom O'Brien to former Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan, but his lack of on-field experience has left much unanswered for the junior quarterback. Senior tight end George Bryan is leading returning receiver from last year's 9-4 squad. In Pinehurst on Sunday, Bryan did not hesitate to share his confidence in the Wolfpack's new signal-caller.

"He commands the offense well," Bryan remarked. "I'm excited for him to be my QB."

Bryan went on to talk about how Glennon has been going out of his way to text teammates in an attempt to organize extra preparation activities in the offseason. Whether it is simply a film session, or even as much as an informal 7-on-7 - the junior quarterback is excited to be the leader of this new team. From the sound of it, the entire Russell Wilson transfer was never a team ordeal at all, but instead a matter that was handled exclusively between Wilson and O'Brien. The sentiments from Bryan and teammate Audie Cole are that it was something out of their hands, and they have long ago moved forward preparing to follow Glennon into the 2011 season.

Posted on: July 22, 2011 11:49 am
Edited on: July 22, 2011 12:52 pm

Alabama's Nick Saban at SEC Media Days

Posted by Chip Patterson

Alabama coach Nick Saban is a football guy. The first man on the microphone Friday at SEC Media Days in Birmingham, Saban deflected many of the "policy" questions of the week and instead kept his focus on the game itself.

The Crimson Tide were announced today as the overwhelming favorite to win the SEC, and some have speculated they could even start the season as the top-ranked team nationally.

Want to know why?

Just take a look at the nine Preseason All-SEC First Team selections, a conference record. But Saban acknowledges there are question marks, and one of the biggest ones is at the quarterback position. Sophomore A.J. McCarron and freshman Phillip Sims have been competing for the position, which still does not have a clear-cut starter.

"We're gonna continue to manage those guys through fall camp," Saban said. "Neither guy has a tremendous amount of experience, we have a lot of trust and confidence in both of their abilities. It will be interesting to see who plays better in a game, because we feel like both guys have done a really good job and both guys are talented enough to be very, very successful quarterbacks for our team."

Other highlights from Saban's time on the podium:

-- Saban used the word "consistency" or "consistent" 11 times during the press conference. Alabama identified two major issues from its 2010's campaign: play better fundamentally and eliminate mental errors. There is no doubt the Crimson Tide are going to be good this fall, but you get the feeling that Saban believes they have the possibility to really be great. They were picked to win the SEC West again last year, but in the opinion of the coaching staff, the aforementioned issues kept them from that goal.

-- There was a good amount of dialogue on the affairs in the state of Alabama. First, it was many thanks to those who have assisted the state with tornado relief efforts, then it turned to Auburn-Alabama relations. Toomer's Corner was never expressly mentioned, but Saban went out of his way to address the intensifying rivalry between the two schools:

"I think we have a lot of wonderful people, a lot of wonderful people who support those institutions in a very positive way, Saban said. "I think our state is very, very important. I think the respect that we have for each other is very, very important, and in no way should affect the competitive rivalry we have with each other.

"But I also think that some of the things that have been negatives are not really good. And I think there's just a small number of people who probably create this - on both sides. This is not a criticism of one or the other. I would like to see our fans show class in terms of how we represent our institution and our state and our athletic programs. That would be really, really appreciated."

-- Listening to Saban talk X's and O's is just. so. cool. More than any other coach this week, Saban dove into the intricacies of his 3-4 defense. In case you missed it, here's a recap of Saban's answer for the clipboard junkies.

I think philosophically you have to be able to manage circumstances and understand what you're getting into because you need bigger guys to play nose and defensive end. So you have to have outside backer types who can pass-rush when you get into all the spread stuff and nickel stuff that you have to play.
But it's probably a little bit overstated because we actually played a 3-4 last year about 20% of the time. That's dictated and determined by the offense that we play. Because when we play nickel and dime, we're playing more 40-type defense. I know Will will be the same way, most of the people in the league are the same way, because you're going to get in the best pass-rush front you can have.
I think the greatest advantage philosophically of playing a 3-4 is it gives you the best opportunity to play a seven-man front and play split-safety coverages rather than having to be in an eight-man front to stop the run. You have to have the right kind of players to do it. But philosophically I think that's why you see more and more of that defense.

After months of violations, allegations, and lots of other -tions, we have football talk!

-- Basically, every coach has been asked to give an opinion on the proposed changes from SEC commissioner Mike Slive. Saban has no interest in making comments on the issue, but instead expressed his desire for there to be "dialogue and discussion" with the rest of the coaches and commissioners before changes are made to the game. As a self-appointed "proponent for college football," Saban believes the game does a lot of good for people, and seemed to wonder why there was so much negativity and call for change.

"I'm sort of proud of our profession and I'm proud of what we do to help young people have a better chance to be successful in life," Saban said. "So I'm not necessarily ready to jump out there and support or not support whatever changes we make."

Keep it here at the Eye On College Football for more updates from media days from all conferences in the upcoming weeks.
Posted on: July 21, 2011 10:38 am
Edited on: July 21, 2011 10:40 am

Joker Phillips supports compensating players

Posted by Chip Patterson

Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips was the first to take the microphone on Day 2 of SEC Media Days in Birmingham. One question offered to pretty much every coach on the podium so far has been their reaction to Mike Slive's proposed changes from Wednesday. Phillips, who played wide receiver at Kentucky from 1981-1984, quickly voiced his support for the discussion of player benefits.

"It's great that we are having dialogue about paying players, or compensating players," Phillips said. "There's a lot of factors involved, I understand that. Having this dialogue has gotten us to the fact-finding phase of this thing. As we continue to find out the facts, and come up with some answers that might fit. We have to understand the answers are not just about football and basketball, but all sports involved. We have to take care of everybody, not just men's football and men's basketball. Whatever solution we come up with, I'll be for."

Here are some more highlights from Phillips' comments to the media Thursday morning:

-The second-year head coach enters the 2011 season returning only 15 starters from 2010's squad, and will be looking to replace starting quarterback Mike Hartline, leading rusher Derrick Locke and Mr. Everything Randall Cobb. But with 9 of those starters on defense and a lot of confidence in the next group he still thinks they should be competitive in the upcoming season. Their theme this year is "RISE" and that is his challenge to the players. With so much production, particularly on offense, gone - new stars need to rise to the occasion for the Wildcats to succeed.

- Although last year did finish with a bowl berth, Phillips pointed out that the 6-7 finish was a drop-off from two straight 8-5 seasons. His goal for the Wildcats is to be able to hang in the SEC East race as long as possible. When asked about how close they were to "getting over the wall," Phillips believes that his squad is approaching that level.
"We're very, very close," Phillips responded. "We lost a lot of close games. Things that will get us over the hump will be being the most disciplined team, being the most physical team, and having mental toughness."

- Several mentions were made to the Wildcats strength and conditioning program under Rock Oliver. He wants the team to be attacking, aggressive, and display the aforementioned mental and physical toughness. He thinks this team has done well in the two years under Oliver in offseason preparation, and the squad looks leaner and stronger than they have in a while. Phillips also praised new co-defensive coordinator Rick Minter, who actually got to to work with the team for the 15-16 practices leading up to the BBVA Compass Bowl on Jan. 8 in Birmingham.

Keep it here at the Eye On College Football for more updates from media days from all conferences in the upcoming weeks.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com