Lane Kiffin Press Conference Quotes
April 30, 2010
An Interview With: COACH Lane Kiffin
COACH KIFFIN: Well, I know this has been a very productive spring for us, because it being our first spring here and our staff almost all new and us not knowing the players very well, this has been a great 14 days of practice.
Very excited about the format we used as far as having a day off in between for more meeting time, never practicing back to back days and spreading it out over an extra week has been very critical for our staff and getting to know our players. This is all new for most of our guys, and as we look at it, we have a number of injuries, so the depth chart, it's just something to go off of and we'll be constantly moving as we get to the fall.
As our current players know and as they have been told a number of times, this fall will be very critical for our new guys because they will get the first shot. Our older guys have had an opportunity this spring to show us where they are at in our system and our evaluation of them, and so this will be a very exciting fall. We have got a number of great players to add to this, and I know we still have one more day coming up here of practice, but we are already excited to get to the fall.
As far as tomorrow's game, really is not going to be much different than our scrimmages on the other Saturdays have been. We don't have enough bodies to be able to create two different teams as far as having ones versus twos, so it will be just an offense versus defensive format, which we will have a scoring system for and very little special teams. We'll kick field goals and extra points with no rush.
Other than that, we won't do any special teams, but it will be a great chance for our players to go into the Coliseum for the first time together and show us kind of their final test. That's the way that we look at it. They have had a number of exams up to this point and this is their final chance to show us. We don't get to have them again for, oh, I guess about three months, so this will be very critical for these guys and as close to the environment as we can as far as a game.
So I think when you do go into this, what is interesting is you see some players step up and maybe play better than they had in other scrimmages. Maybe based on that, it is a little more game like going into the Coliseum and maybe some guys don't play as well. This will be the final test of their evaluation.
Q. Middle linebacker battle just too close to call?
So we are excited about both those guys. I would imagine whoever ends up winning the battle will find a way for the other guy to play, because they both have a chance to be really good players for us.
Q. What's your thinking on the offensive line with Kevin Graf and how that worked out?
So that really only leaves seven guys, seven and a half, Martin (Coleman) has been in and out. That's where they sit now. As I said, it really doesn't mean very much. We will find the best five guys once we get to the fall, figure out where to put them and make sure that we continue to develop our backups.
Q. The second corner spot, is it the same deal as the middle linebackers, you couldn't put one guy ahead of the other at this point?
So I think those will be very interesting battles, as you look at corners and as you look at receivers as far as one elite player there that we feel good about, that's a championship type player, and the rest of the group are going to have some young guys mixed in with some older guys and see who can be two and three and four.
Q. Is that the same with cornerback Brian Baucham?
Q. Is the place kicking clear cut? Joe Houston, did he win that job or is that still open?
Q. With this great group of quarterbacks supposedly in this conference, you see a lot of inaudible.
Q. Seemed like Nick Perry was ahead for much of camp and Wes Horton just made the push or
Q. Playing in general, is there anybody who really kind of came out and really improved their status over the course of this?
He has done some good things. Line blocking was obviously going to be the question. We were not able to function with him the first week there. He was just getting pushed around and really has improved on that and has made himself functionable.
Q. Does that mean he needs to get bigger?
It's been a process, and one I think he's going to continue to get better at and it's very critical for us, because that position has had a number of injuries there and is very unsettled.
Q. Butch Lewis has played some guard and tackle in the past, could he end up the utility offensive lineman because you don't have great numbers of guys you can move around?
Unfortunately haven't been able to practice with him very much. So we have a lot of technique work to do with Butch but we are excited he can do so many things, but now we have to make sure he's doing them really well.
Q. Nickel corner?
So there's going to be competition at the second and at the third corner to see who goes in there and depending on that, and we have done it with safeties. Eric Barry was our nickel last year, so if we can't find the right corner to do it, it may be a third safety.
Q. Kyle Prater got hurt a little bit, but can you just give your impressions of him?
So our 16 week, he couldn't really do much. He kind of pushed himself through, kind of set him back some, and then he gets the cast, too, with his thumb. So he's got a cast on and his hamstring is not right. He's really pushed through, which I'm glad to see that. The problem was I was really hoping to see him go through healthy to see what we really have. So I don't think that we know what we have yet in Kyle.
Q. Are the designations of strong and free safety, do those really mean much, if anything? Most of us probably thought it would be other way around.
Q. What suits T.J. McDonald?
Q. Have you seen enough at this point to have any kind of feel about how good the team could be next season?
We'll see some guys come back completely different to us because of the off season weight program that they go into. You know, that some guys, maybe they are down here buried on the depth chart will end up being at the top of this thing, and that's why we'll continue to keep the competition open with these guys. It's too hard to say that right now. But I notice we are a long ways away from a championship team, and so we have got a lot of work to do.
Q. Can you speak a little to how it's been to have the team start coming together, you have to work with new players that don't know you, new coaching staff, players, media, everybody has to figure their way around; how has that been coming?
So when you get here, you have this point and you have so many things to get to to get to a championship level that you just start knocking them off, so one player buys in and another player buys in. And as you get them bought in and doing things the right way and they understand how you want them to practice and they understand how you want them to prepare and understand how you want them to be off the field, as you get through those steps, it becomes easier and easier than it is at the beginning.
That's what's so great about having so much time with them in the spring as we did for the meetings and practices is that we start to get closer and closer. It's very exciting because you can almost feel it's overwhelming when you first get there because you have so much to do and you try to get it done so fast. I'm pleased at the progress they have made and really about where they are at mentally right now.
Q. Can you give an idea how well the defensive line has performed, individual guys on the offensive line, Matt (Kalil), Kristofer (O'Dowd), Tyron Smith, how have their springs gone? How have they gone?
As you look at Graf has played left guard for us and left tackle for us, also has been banged up and has played through, and you know, guard may end up being a better spot for him as we look at it and look at our whole roster.
O'Dowd has been one of the most improved guys in spring which may surprise people who think, well, he's been all conference before. But the first week of practice, we were not very impressed with Kristofer. He wasn't finishing the way we want, wasn't as explosive as we want and not practicing as hard as we want, and he had to make a choice, which these seniors do when a new staff comes in and you have a senior that's played a lot. Those are the hardest guys, because a lot of times they think they have the answers.
He had a decision to make: Either he was going to buy into the way he wanted done and start practicing like he did years ago to get him to that point or somebody was going to pass him up. So I'm very excited about the decision he made. The first sometime he posted the most loafs, more loafs than anybody on our whole team and has responded and ended up being one of the leaders of our team, and I mean leaders by the way that they practice, not by what they say.
Q. What's a loaf?
Q. Do you have a chance to see if they look?
Q. How about Tyron?
We are going to continue to want him to add some weight. I don't know how well that's going to go because he may just not have the frame to do it. But he's playing the most consistent of all the guys, and then Holmes has done some things well. He's been banged up also, but we like him, what he's done at right guard there, and really can see him being the right guard for us a couple years here.
Q. The running back situation, what you see now compared to maybe what you expected going in?
Bradford will flash to us at times and all of the sudden stop his feet and not make the run the way we want it. C.J. (Gable) all of a sudden runs the wrong route after doing something really well...those guys as seniors to be more consistent. And Alan has had a very good week. He's put together, I would say, the last four practices, he can feel the difference I know by the way he's running, he's being more disciplined in his running, which is what it takes. We cannot have big runs and guys trying to make the big play.
Curtis (McNeal) has been banged up, too, and flashed at times. We will work on his weight and top end speed and Dillon Baxter is kind of the wild card, made some remarkable plays, hurt his knee but battled back through that, he will play tomorrow. This kid has got potential to be really, really special and then Marc Tyler, his toe has bothered him, so he's been in and out but hopefully he can be a big, physical back for us.
Q. Are you definitely looking at Seantrel Henderson as a left tackle?
Q. How much do you see yourself using the Wildcat formation?
You know, I would never see it being a huge part of our package but it's something to do here and there once in awhile maybe.
Does that mean every time we do that, that means Barkley doesn't touch the ball, so we have to think about the other side of that, that.
Q. Have you seen enough from Dillon as a running back that you are comfortable using him as a satellite player, lining hum up at receiver and whatnot?
Dillon has picked things up extremely well. Spent a lot of time with him yesterday extra on route running because he doesn't feel like he's a freshman, he's really a senior in high school, but he doesn't feel like that and because he has taken it extremely serious. He's studied hard and done a great job of grasping our offense, and things do come very easy for him.
Q. How has it gone for James Boyd?
Q. He did the seven on seven on Tuesday, could you see the flashes of why he was effective as a quarterback in high school?
Q. Is it becoming harder to find high school quarterbacks to play in your center?
So it has been hard to evaluate guys, and that's why it's critical as we continue to go down the road for years and years and years in this position is to make sure we have the young guys in our camps.
Q. You mentioned targeting linebackers, after going through a spring, was there any other position that stuck out?
Q. Pete Carroll was not a big fan of the rule change about head coaches travel during the season, what are your thoughts?
No, I think it's a ridiculous rule. I think that head coaches remember, we are accountable for the kid that we sign when they come in here, so when they screw up and they make a mistake, we are held accountable as head coaches for it. But you don't let us go out there until May to go to the school to find out about the kid, to ask the counselors about the kids, to ask the teachers about the kid.
So we may sign a kid, okay, and you have now let me as a head coach responsible for the guy, go to the school one time and that may not be till the week we sign the kid; the kid may already be committed and we have never gone to the school and researched from a head coach standpoint. The argument is your assistant coaches can go, but they are not held as accountable as we are. It makes absolutely no sense to me.
Q. Do you have a philosophy how to use the running backs, one or two guys or a committee or who is hot? What's your thought?
So I think that you have to get a rhythm and so I would rather find one or two guys and so that's our job to figure out this fall who are those guys going to be. And it is very productive when they are different styles. If the two guys are really different, you know, it really allows to you do more things, obviously, like Reggie (Bush) and LenDale (White) were here before, that's a perfect scenario.
Q. Did that come up when you interviewed for the job?
Q. You didn't prefer one running back
Q. One guy you haven't talked about on offense, as far as Stanley Havili, seems to be super consistent and makes plays, what have you seen from him this spring?
Q. Is there only one freshman coming in that you're particularly interested in seeing what they can do?
Q. You had talked about at the start of practice not letting positions where you didn't have a lot of depth hold back the overall process. Can you talk about how well that went?
Q. Do you have any faster than (Robert) Woods?
Q. He looks faster than what we have seen before; is he in your mind just faster than we've ever seen?
As far as a productive receiver, not just some project that you bring in just to see, as far as a real receiver, he's the fastest receiver we have played with while I was here. Obviously he's faster than the big guys and the Z's we carry and Steve Smith, he's got a lot to do to catch those guys production wise but we have got to keep him healthy because he could be really special.
Q. As someone who has been in the NFL and coached in the SEC, what do you think of Tim Tebow's chances in the NFL?
I just think his personality is so unique and his competitiveness is so unlike anyone else; I just think no matter what it is, he's going to find a way to succeed. I don't know how fast it will happen but and there's too many variable to know, who is the cast around you, how fast do they play you up there.
So a lot of those things he'll have to deal with, but eventually I think that he'll be a special player like he always has been ever since he was little.
Q. Walking into the Coliseum on Saturday, will there be any nostalgia for you?
Q. When is the last time you were there?
Q. Is there one thing in particular that you're looking for out of that scrimmage tomorrow? I know the process is pretty much done but is there one thing in particular that you want to see?
Q. How are offensive plays
Q. Good to have
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