“Well I thought that the guys really did a good job. I’ll start with the scout team really, working hard in the special teams area then it led into the offense-defense. Right now there’s not a lot of the substitutions for our scout team, so a lot of guys are having to suck it up the whole time. They’re doing a good job…Everyone has a role to play on this team. If it is scout team, you [have] to do it well.”
Q: You noticed us noticing the O-Linemen—Theus and Dantzler. Did they look that good after we left?
A: Yeah, that was fun, wasn’t it? That was good. You guys had to like that. Wow, look at these guys here in front of me…They did ok. They didn’t go that long. They practiced. We didn’t want Theus getting any more than scout team work anyway.
Q: How is Malcolm Mitchell moving around?
A: He did pretty good. I’m encouraged. I’m not certain that he’s full speed, but it’s Wednesday. I’m encouraged. We have a couple more days to go. He got the scout work.
Q: Will you take him on the trip?
A: Oh yeah. Coach Grantham might be mad, but yeah, we’re taking him. Coach Grantham might be made that I’m saying it, not that he’s coming. No more injury questions. I can’t answer anymore.
Q: The first guy that came in after Theus against Buffalo was Xzavier Ward. It seemed like everytime we’ve asked about him, you’ve always said ‘We hope so. He’s coming along.’ Is that still the case?
A: It’s a physical issue, coming off his ACL injury. You can tell it still bothers him. I would say he’s probably not full speed, but when the ball is snapped, he goes. He seems to be progressing. I don’t know if he’s hardly missed a rep the entire camp, so that’s very encouraging. I like the length of his arms, his height and he seems to be a very conscientious guy. I don’t know if he’s ready to play in a game like this.
Q: Is he the lead guy in your contingency plan?
A: I don’t know. I really don’t know. We’re mixing and matching nd trying to find some answers. That’s one of the possibilities. Austin Long, Mark Beard—we’re working both those guys.
Q: How will the noise factor affect some of the younger guys like David (Andrews)?
A: It probably affects the center the least. He’s the closest to the quarterback and can usually hear the cadence pretty good. It’s those tackles that struggle with it the most—trying to hear the quarterback. A guy like Theus, if he’s able to go, I would think it’d be something new for him. He’s never gone through anything like that. He’s been in some big stadiums in some all-star games but I don’t think they were filled with excited plans. Not enough to create the noise he’s gonna hear this weekend.
Q: Are you going to try and simulate the crowd noise tomorrow?
A: I think we’re just going to do it here. We can still get enough noise with the speaker system we have. We want to play on the turf because we have the field turf here. It saves time out of their lives. If you go bus there and back, you probably add 20 minutes, maybe 30 minutes, to their day getting organized and riding back.
Q: Will you do a walk-through at the opposing stadium?
A: No. We haven’t done a walk-through on a Friday at any other stadium. We’ll do walk-throughs on Friday, and we might even get in their stadium but if we do, it won’t be to do any walk-throughs. Just to take a look and maybe put your cleats on and get a field for the place.
Q: To what extent will you or the players see of the University of Missouri or the campus or anything? Or is it hotel, ballroom, bus, stadium, etc.?
A: In order to do that, you’d have to leave pretty early on Friday and do something like that for an hour or so. A lot of times the goal is to get them off their feet. We want to get them out a little bit because they’ve taken a trip. But if you’re on your feet doing a tour, a walking tour, it’s just another thing to make them tired and we want to keep them fresh.
Q: Did Marshall Morgan’s performance last week settle him as the kicker going forward?
A: Extra points and field goals right now, I’d say he’s pretty solid. He kicked off well, but Jamie Lindley made the last kick and he drove it right out of the endzone. So Lindley impressed us. I wouldn’t count Jamie out for having an opportunity to kick somewhere along the way. It could be any given game. We don’t necessarily have a rotation, but Lindley has kicked well even in practice. We gave Marshall the first shot at it and he kicked off well. It was a closer competition for the kickoffs than it was the extra points and field goals. Lindley is a very good kickoff guy for us.
Q: You were talking about Mizzou’s receivers yesterday. What is your expectation for your own receiver, Tavarres King?
A: I want him to lead every day in practice. I want him to be a playmaker. I want him to be a guy we can go to when it counts the most. The only guy we go to in those situations but he’s a veteran, a senior. This is his time. This is Marlon’s last time too. I expect the same from Marlon. Unfortunately, Marlon had the hamstring pull and he’s doing well now. But I have similar expectation for Marlon even though TK has caught more balls in his career, but Marlon is a pretty good player, too, and a veteran.
Q: Do you believe in having a No. 1 receiver?
A: We’re not as inclined to say ‘we must get this guy the ball.’ I’ll say this, we have a lot of faith in TK, Marlon, Wooten, Michael Bennett and Chris Conley. Those five really to me stand out. I got a lot of faith in all those guys. The other guys are gaining our faith. I still think they’re good enough to get in a game. I think they should get opportunities, but those other guys have just been more solid in how they practice, in how they block and in how they reach out and snatch the ball. They’re just ahead of the other guys right now.
Q: How is Ken Malcome able to grip the ball with that hand?
A: I didn’t ask him. He’s mostly holding it in his other hand. A back historically is used to holding it in either hand. There’s usually a dominant side, but he’s had enough reps that even if he held it in one side, I’d feel confident in him playing.
Q: Will everyone that travels be eligible to play?
A: Oh yeah.
Q: When will that travel roster be available?
A: Friday, actually Saturday. About 7:30 Saturday. If you request it now, you’ll get it Saturday about 8 o’clock.
Q: Will you take Theus and Dantzler?
A: We hope so. If we don’t think they can play or help, we won’t. If we left today, I’m not sure we’d have both of them. I’m not sure we would or wouldn’t. We got a couple more days. We’re hoping they are [coming].
Q: You spoke about Austin Long. What is his role moving forward?
A: We want him to fight for playing time, for an opportunity to start. He may start this game. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I really don’t. If he doesn’t start, it may not be long before he’s in there. Depending on how everything holds up. Let’s say Theus gets in there and guts it out for a while, but he can’t go anymore. Then, who is going in? Whoever it is—if it’s Austin—you’ve got to prove you can do it. Sometimes that’s how guys win jobs. It’s how they earn playing time. They get thrown in there when they probably wouldn’t have gotten thrown in there based on what’s happened in practice and all that. But all of a sudden they get in the game and perform and Coach says ‘I think he can do it.’ He just needs to keep preparing for the moment that when he does get his chance, he shows Coach Friend, Coach Bobo and myself that he’s ready.
Q: Is offensive line one of the harder positions to project success at the next level (high school to college)?
A: Well, I think a big part of it is that a lot of them dominate the competition in high school. When they get around these bigger, stronger, faster athletes somewhere along the way, some of them just can’t get it done. I’ll say this though, if a lineman has a good talent base and he is smart enough to figure it out and is diligent with his technique, he can play. Guys with lesser ability can play at that position, in my opinion, more than anywhere else on the field. If you know what to do and you got some attitude and you perfect your techniques, you can play. You can play there, so that’s everybody’s challenge right now.
Q: Why do you think this is such a big game?
A: If it was a year ago and we were playing South Carolina right now, that’s a monster game. Anytime you play in the SEC, it’s a monster game to me. You’re trying to get back to Atlanta. Everyone is in a race to Atlanta. It’s not fun to be behind looking up and losing the driver’s seat, so to speak. You want to stay in the driver’s seat as long as you can. Let’s face it, it is historic. The first Southeastern Conference game in the history of their school. The whole college football world is going to be watching.