Monday, February 22, 2010

Chizik meets with the media

We'll get back to the Ten to Remember series tomorrow. For today, here is what Auburn coach Gene Chizik had to say when meeting with reporters earlier this afternoon:

(Spring practice plans)
Right now, the tentative plan, and as we get closer we’re going to solidify everything. But the tentative plan is to go the first Wednesday after spring break. Typically, I’d like to make it a Monday, Wednesday, Friday during the week practice schedule and Saturday being, if we’re ready, being a scrimmage day. That’s always subject to change with weather and other issues. That’s how we want to start it and as we get moving through it just go from there.

(Any difference between first and second spring?)
It’s much easier at this point in time. Don’t try to read into that. It’s just easier for everybody. There’s a lot of variables in there that a year ago we didn’t know. Personalities of players and players trying to figure out the personalities of coaches. The new terminology of offense and defense, you’re second go-around is so much easier for everybody.

I think it’s been smooth since we’ve come back from the bowl game. They’ve done a great job. We’re going into our seventh or eighth week since they’ve come back. It’s been smooth and it’s been much easier for everybody.

(What's different from last year?)
Really, nothing new in terms of what we’re doing with coach (Kevin Yoxall) in the weight room. They’re doing their semester pretty much like they did last year. The difference is we went to a bowl game this year and when we came back there’s discretionary periods in there you have to adhere to.

The other thing that’s been really different in a good way is their class schedules are a little different this semester than they’ve been, which is going to allow us to, as we talk about spring practice, allow us to practice in the mornings.

It’s been a different schedule. They get over here in the morning and get everything knocked out early. Then they have the rest of the day to go to school and attend the study halls if needed.

Other than that, the scheduling, nothing is really different. It’s just our second time around.

(How important was a strong recruiting class?)
I think it was huge. I think for us to get Auburn back to where I envision it being, which we’re certainly not there; I think it’s going to take those type of recruiting class one on top of the other. Our next year’s recruiting class, our goal is to make it better than the one the year before. Every year try to improve upon what you do.

It was important to us. It was important to our team to bring in good teammates. It was important to our fan base to see that we’re going to work on the recruiting trail. I think it was important to our whole program.

(What the raises means to Chizik and the staff)
It’s not about me. The administration has been phenomenal for me. It was really important that there was a vote of confidence there in our administration that they see and understand the importance in the continuity of our coaching staff. If you just look around the league, there’s been a lot changes. Of course we’ve only been here one year but when you have very talented guys as assistant coaches there’s going to be a lot of people that are interested in hiring them.

It was very important and huge administratively that we made that step forward to say, ‘Hey look, we want to be proactive on the front end of trying to keep everything intact.’ Really important to our coaches and what that means to our coaches but also don’t forget the huge impact that has on your players when they don’t have to change coaches. I think that’s big.

(Thoughts on escalating coaching salaries)
I think it's a little bit of everything. It's a little bit of the trickle-down effect. It's supply and demand. It all starts with the coordinators. People understand the importance of the leaders of your offense or the leaders of your defense and the impact they can have on your football team.

This profession, in general, especially at this level pays a lot of money. It's definitely gotten bigger over the last few years. The supply and the demand and the importance of winning is coming through loud and clear. People are willing to pay that money to get the best people at their trade.

(Does the coaching continuity help with recruiting?)
I hope it was an advantage. They guys we had recruiting a guy a year ago is the same guy we had recruiting him on Feb. 2 before signing day. I think that's a huge impact. Anytime you don't have change, that's a big deal. That just ties into the huge impact all the way around of not having any changes in your staff. That's a huge deal -- including recruiting.

(Do the increased salaries mean less patience?)
In this world of coaching, there always are very, very high expectations. The patience level of fans, the patience out there period, when when you get paid a lot of money is shorter. To a certain degree, yes, the patience runs low fast. When you make large amounts of money, people expect things. That's never going to change. I don't think that's changes from 10, 15 years ago. People can justify it more in their minds now: They make x amount of money, they should be delivering.

(Thoughts on Aairon Savage's return)
I'm really, really proud of having him back on our football team. It's not always easy to get a sixth year. That's not a gimme. I'm really, really happy to have him -- not just for what kind of player he has been but what he brings to the table in terms of leadership and maturity. He's going to finish him master's degree before he starts his last season. It's big to have him on the team. Where are we going to play him? He's been at some different places. Wherever he can help our team best. I don't know that I could give you a definitive. I know he can play either or because he's done it.

(How has Zac Etheridge bounced back from his injury?)
Really good. He's a day-by-day progression of getting to the point where he can play again. I don't want to over-step my boundary; I'm not a doctor. I feel very encouraged about the progress that's been made here in the last couple of months.

(Will any other players miss spring?)
I can't just throw any out there.

(Will Daren Bates practice in the spring?)
That will be questionable. When you talk about being ready for spring, ready for what? That's the issue. Are some of them going to be able to have contact? Off the top of my head, anyone I think is totally going to miss spring, nobody I can think about that can’t at least do something for us. I feel good about most of our guys being able to do something.

(Will Etheridge practice?)
That's going to be day by day. He's making some good progress. We have to wait. As we get closer, you think contact certainly won't be in the cards for him right now. What's he going to be able to do otherwise? I don't know.

(What has QB Cam Newton showed during his first month-plus?)
Cam is, in my opinion, been very focused on what he wants to accomplish. As a staff, we're not going to place any expectations on him that's any different than anybody else. That's not fair. There'll be a battle at the quarterback position. He's going to be part of that battle. May the best man win. Expectation-wise, he's not going to be in a different boat. It won't be any different.

(With Ben Tate gone, who will work at tailback this spring?)
Well, obviously Mario (Fannin) is somebody we're looking at that, again, we feel like can do that because he's done it. We feel like Eric Smith can do it because he's done it. Onterio (McCalebb), those are the guys that we're going to look at. They've all got some sort of, one way or the other, they've all got experience at that position in this offense, one time or another, even dating back to the last spring, so they've all three done it at some point.

(Where will Dontae Aycock work?)
Yeah, Dontae's a guy we can move around and do different things with. We're going to look at him at different spots. Obviously, he was a quarterback in high school so he's talented. I think he can bring some different options to the table, whether it be a guy playing in the slot type option, whether it's a guy that kind of did what Mario did last year, being able to stretch the field vertically, being able to run some wheels out of the backfield. He's very talented and athletic in that regard. Whether he can play tailback or not, he can be in that mix as well. I think he can do a few different things but we're going to try and look to see where the best fit for him depending on what way the tailback situation unfolds.

(Will he work at tailback?)
Just kind of feeling him out. He'll definitely get some reps there too, again, to see if that's what he brings to the table for us that helps our team win. Again, with those types of players, I know they're different body types and things, but they've all got a chance to play more than one role on the team.

(Chizik has signed a lot of former high-school quarterbacks. Is that something he tries to do?)
I do. I like quarterbacks. I like guys that are very athletic that bring a knowledge of the game right now. That's whether he's on offense or defense. Sometimes they have a different way of seeing the game simply because of what they were doing in high school. That could be for a defensive back, a wideout, can be a tailback. I've recruited them as corners, safeties and linebackers as well. I think, again, when they've done that in high school they have a great feel for the game for maybe a different perspective than other guys have had.

(Will Kodi Burns be involved in the quarterback competition?)
He's a wide receiver. He'll still play Wildcat, but his predominant position is wide receiver.

(On how Auburn will get five different quarterbacks enough practice time)
We'll see. We'll see. Again, we'll figure out a way to rep them the right way but it'll be a really good competition. Right now it's a healthy one. We've just got to figure out how we're going to do that and split up the reps, but we'll find a way to do it.

(How important was it to show a commitment to offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn?)
I'm going to say that with everybody first. I want to be proactive with everybody to keep them here. Some guys on our staff got offered potentially other assistant coaches jobs, some guys potentially got offered head jobs. And again, we wanted to do what we felt we needed to do to keep everything together. And that's kind of what the whole salary structure was based on. We just kept everything in tact as best as we could, to the best of our ability, and did what we needed to do to do that. With some of our guys being sought after, again, we did what we felt like we needed to do.

(Clarify "potentially' interested)
It means people were interested in them.

(Has anyone left the team?)
Off the top of my head, no. Nobody that you guys wouldn't no about.

(How important are the five early enrollees from a depth standpoint?)
Again, three of those five that came in January were junior college guys. Two of them were high school guys. And just for the depth of our team, I think it's really, really big. And I think for high school guys to come in here, it's kind of a whole new world for them. But surely that is going to be really good for us down the road in terms of building depth for young guys. And they are all fighting for jobs, but the junior college guys that you bring in here, typically you're bringing them in because there is a dire need at one of those positions and what-not. And those guys are going to come in here and really battle it out for potential starting playing time. And again, not that the high school guys are not, but they're still coming in two different type worlds. But it's good to have them all here and it's been excellent. It's been a great transition for the fight. They've really been on top of their stuff. It's really good for our team.

(What has Chizik seen in Roszell Gayden?)
My initial impressions have been really good. Roszell has come in here and really done everything we ask him to do, which we figured he would. He's a great young man and he's working really, really hard to get into the swing of what we do. At the tackle position right now, there will be some young guys that we're going to potentially play out there. It may be a mix and match. Sometimes it could be a guard-type guy who could move out to tackle. Obviously Andrew graduated, and that's the hole we're trying to fill, but you've still got Brandon Mosley that's competing for potentially an offensive line/tight end job. He's very athletic and he can do both. Again, with our own football team, there's still some young guys that we may try out there. Maybe it's a John Sullen. It really depends. We feel like we're pretty good right now from left tackle to right guard. But again, that's going to be the one that's open, and people have to challenge it for you.

(Does Chizik foresee any quarterbacks transferring positions or schools if they don't win the starting spot?)
I don't see anybody going to another position. The way I envision it, I don't see it.

No comments: