"I'm really pleased with our opportunity and efforts out there today. Our guys carried themselves and handled themselves well. It was a really good way to open up and start for the rookies. I think everyone really demonstrated what I expected to see today. Its exciting to move forward with them. My goal is to work our way through this, and get them to Monday. Day One accomplished."
The receivers coming out of college these days seem to have great skill sets …
"It is impressive. Cody Core particularly, coming from that offense. Even Wisconsin's offense has changed from what it was in past years. The same goes for Pittsburgh offense. These guys all get opportunities to catch a lot of passes. As you said, they're used to doing it all the time, just like quarterbacks are used to it. They're used to throwing the ball 50 times a game."
There weren't many balls on the ground, for them not having done much in the offseason …
"They haven't They haven't been practicing football. But it shows they've been doing things to get ready to get here. That's good."
Do you like Tyler Boyd's confidence?
"That's why you pick a guy like that. You don't want to pick a church mouse. It won't go very far if you do."
Is his quickness as advertised?
"He's going to be a good player."
The guys said it seems as if you're throwing him into the fire and giving them a lot early?
"We don't, actually. They don't get a lot. We're very simple, very elementary. We're trying to establish a foundation and basis to build from. Two weeks from now when they're with the other players, we want them to understand the words and have it make sense. As we progress through that, they have an opportunity to go out there and exhibit their football abilities and not just be thinking all the time. We're really trying to build a base of fundamentals. Offensively it's with the huddle calls, the formations, alignments, and the techniques that it takes to play your position. Its the same thing for the defense that way."
Is there frustration for players when they're getting used to new things, with their old tendencies?
"I think it's one thing to do it half speed. Then when you line up a guy on the other side, it's natural. Its human tendency to revert to what you've been doing all the time. We have to keep reinforcing the habits we want to see. They get a chance now tonight to see the things on tape in live speed. They saw the walkthrough type of work this morning, and now they get a chance to see full speed reps from this afternoon's work."
What's the key with (QB) Matthew Johnson? He can't get any taller. How can he be successful?
"I think he's got great anticipation and a very strong arm. The balls are coming out at a good release point. He's used to functioning that way. To do that in the NFL, you're going to have to adjust a bit if he were your quarterback. He's shown the ability to throw accurate footballs. I thought he did a good job out there today. Its impressive how he's throwing it from his point, and a guy that's 6-6 is throwing it from the same spot. That's how he's been productive."
It seems like more colleges are practicing like the NFL, where there's a lot less people going to the ground?
"That's probably the best opening day we've ever had with that. We've tried to impress that upon them, and they heard my warnings."
What were your impressions of Andrew Billings?
"He's everything we excepted him to be. He's got width to him, strength, and the ability to move his feet and penetrate if that's what we ask him to do. He's a young guy; he's got the whole thing ahead of him."
What's that width like for the other guys?
"With your own D-line, they feel his presence. If they run into him, its like hitting a brick wall. I'm pleased. Our inside guys we have in there, Cooper from Houston, Alex from UCLA, and Chris from ASU, are big men. That's good work, to work against big guys. That's what we want conversely for our own defense; to work against the three guys that they're going against on offense. We have three 310-plus men that have big body strength, and that's good for the interior line."
What do you like best about getting guys on the field? Some teams apparently aren't doing as much with the rookies this weekend on the field …
"Two years ago we didn't even have a rookie camp. It depends on the timing of things. We want to maximize the amount of time we can spend with these guys. This gives us an opportunity to spend time with them on the field, and the coaches to work with them. We're not overdoing the team aspect of it. The receiver needs a little bit of that. We want to put Tyler Boyd and Cody Core in a position to learn the offense as quickly as possible.
"Those young guys that have an opportunity to contribute on offense, like Christian Westerman. We're doing this for them; so they have the opportunity to get as close to football as we can. With William Jackson III, we can't go one-on-one all day. But he had a chance to see 'crack replace' and some of those things that are huge as we get ready to go into the season. He gets the very first play of that in team reps, and its like he's been doing it all his life with us. That's what's exiting. To see Nick Vigil out there today running the defense like he's been the mic linebacker the entire time was really good too. It was impressive."
When do you know if a young player gets 'it'?
"I think you get it every day for some guys. For some guys, it just clicks and you see it. I thought William Jackson clicked today, and Nick Vigil. That's encouraging; those are two guys that can help us early in the season."
Did you see any of Alex Cooper in Jackson's tape?
"The offensive line coaches evaluated him. I hadn't seen him play until today. He's a guy we targeted after the draft and were able to get signed."
The wide receiver from Toledo, Alonzo Russel, looks impressive …
"He's a big guy who has some timed speed to him. He's got a little issue he had to have lanced today, so we won't see him participate fully. Hopefully we can get him healthy here soon to participate."
What about Alex Erickson ?
"Alex is very productive. We were encouraged to be able to sign him after the draft. We're excited to get him for what he's able to do as a receiver and returner."
He seemed comfortable fielding punts …
"I thought both guys did a good job. It showed today that they'll give us some options back there. And we haven't had an opportunity to work with them, that was a good first opening day with it."
Any update on Cody Core, after he had to come off the field?
"He was just getting an IV. That's all. We had to have one of those today."