You can find video of today’s press conference here.
(On the overall health of the team)
The guys have had a good summer, I think pretty much everybody’s back. You’re going to have a guy here or there that misses a little bit of time with maybe a soft tissue injury here or there, but usually that’s only maybe a couple of days. All our guys have been out working, some guys a little bit limited, but predominantly, everybody’s out there. They’ve been working hard this whole summer, and really shouldn’t be at full strength once we head to camp.
(On how the coaches are mentoring players on matters related to NIL)
For us it’s all about the compliance piece of it, not doing anything that would would hinder them from playing. This is all new territory for everybody across the country, including our compliance department, everybody’s compliance. I think for us, it’s just make sure and make sure our guys are being safe with the decisions they are going to be making concerning NIL, and going through our compliance. This is something that is brand new, and we’re all kind of learning and maneuvering and as we go. I do think it’s a good thing for these guys to be able to have an opportunity to be able to make some extra money on their likeness. But I think the biggest thing for us, is not doing anything that would hinder them from playing, and number two, not doing anything that they could get swindled out of any kind of money. Because you don’t know if somebody approaches you, and you don’t know who it is, and all of a sudden you’ve giving out a social security number or bank number. So we’re just trying to have a lot of precautions with it, and be smart with it.
(On if the offensive line’s versatility was something he was looking for)
Absolutely. We want to be able to have guys, and cross train them to be able to play, guard, center, tackle, be able to play right side or left side. We got some versatile linemen. Renato Brown and Adonis Boone are two that you mentioned, and Brian Hudson can play both. Cole Bentley can play both, Luke Kandra can play both. I’m really excited about our offensive line this upcoming season. It’s more depth than we’ve ever had, probably the most depth I’ve ever had in general in terms of any team that I’ve been on. You’re looking at eight/nine guys that will be able to go out and play, and play at a high level. I’m excited about the guys up front. We know where it all starts, in the trenches. Again, I’m excited about our defensive line. I think we got a really good depth there, we’ve developed some great players on that side of the ball. So in the trenches, to me, it’s gonna be the best we’ve been since we’ve been here on both sides.
(On how NIL changes his recruiting approach)
We’re not really supposed to use NIL for recruiting purposes, although we know those questions are gonna come up. I think what we’ll probably end up doing is, you just kind of have to base it off kind of what your guys are doing at this point. Once we get into this thing, six months or a year into this thing, we’ll have a better idea of kind of how it’s going to work, and the opportunities that guys are going to have. We know that we’re in a great city here, and there should be a lot of opportunity for our guys with the amount of businesses that we have here. So it’ll be very interesting to see how we maneuver through this. But to answer the question, we got a plan, here’s what we’re going to do for you guys. We’re using another company to help with some of this, they’re able to see their earning potential, and a lot of is based on their social media presence. But again, we’re in kind of learning mode ourselves with this, to see exactly how much, when and where these guys gonna be able to make any money.
(On if he has a plan to minimize NIL distractions)
Absolutely, and we’ve talked to our guys about that. You’re gonna have the most opportunity when you go out and play well. If you put a good product on the field, and you’re a good ambassador out in the community, and you do a lot of great things, and those type of companies want to partner up with. I think our guys realize that the fact that I can go out, and I make plays, I do a good job in the community, then there’s going to be a lot more opportunity. So our guys are focused on going out, performing at a high level, and playing very, very well, to know what can come of that. Just because you put something out on the social media platform, and say, ‘hey I’m available, come get me’, that’s not the way it works. You’re gonna have to have a good product, and go out and play well, in order to have good earning potential.
(On the hiring of recruiting coordinator Eron Hodges, and how he feels about the recruiting class at this point)
It’s always important to continue to hire people that can come in and help you recruiting. We noticed this day and age, you got to have a lot of people within that forum, that are doing a lot of different things. So we just bolstered our department this past semester, and then hiring, Eron, that’s just going to continue to help that.
I think we’re solid right now. It’s still early in the game, there’s still guys that we’re talking to that we’ll hopefully be able to get some commitments here soon, The month of June was outstanding for us. We hosted a lot of great recruits and a lot of great families. It was the most busiest June I’ve ever been a part of. I think probably too far, the fact that nobody has been on campus for a year and a half, and everybody’s anxious to get on campus, and to be able to see them. Once you open the doors, they were all there. Then the fact that potential camps is a chance for official visits, all those things, I think it was a great June for us and hopefully we’ll finish off with the great end of July, and then obviously head into the season.
(On if he expects newcomers on the defensive line to make a lot of contributions)
Yeah, I would anticipate that. A lot of those guys are, well most of those guys we brought in, can play. It’ll be great competition. I think it just depends on what’s happened in the fall camp, who comes out of it obviously the most healthiest, who comes out of it at a high level, understanding what we’re trying to do defensively, not making as many mistakes. We had five defensive linemen total for two weeks against VT and Virginia, that was frustrating and extremely challenging. Now, we feel like we got a ton of depth there, probably as many as 10 or 11 guys that will be able to contribute. YaYa Diaby has been outstanding, he looks like we thought he would look we ended up signing him. You mentioned Ashton Gillotte, he’s incredible. It’s just a lot of bodies out there that I think that are going to give us a lot of good minutes, and it’s going to help our defense. I think our defense will be the best we’ve had since we’ve been here. Our pass defense is one of the best out there last year, our run defense will be better this year, and then we gotta create more sacks and we got to get more more turnovers. We had opportunities for interceptions, and just dropped several, but I think they’re going to be there this year with the push that we’ll be able to get from the D-line.
(On the position that has the biggest question mark entering fall camp)
I think probably safety position is number one, and then probably just receivers. Losing Fitzpatrick and Atwell, who’s gonna be the next group of guys that come in and step in and make plays for us? Jordan Watkins I think’s been really, really good, Tyler Harrell’s really really good, we know Braden Smith has been good for us, Marshon Ford, we’ll probably increase his role catching the football. So probably, the safety position will be the biggest question mark, and really, the rest of it we feel really good about depth wise and positionally in all the positions. So we’ll see. It’ll be some different names out there making plays too.
(On if he has everyone on campus now)
We have everybody on campus right now, and potentially could be a late addition. But right now, we have everybody on campus. They’re here, they’re all training, are all working out. We’ll see where this month ends. We still got a few more weeks.
(On how he feels about the running back position heading into camp)
I think we’re in great shape. I think Jalen Mitchell’s had an outstanding offseason, he’s one of our leaders, he’s in our ten-strong group, and been a great leader for us. Hassan Hall, this spring and summer, is back to where he was two years ago. I think we got a lot of depth there. We’re gonna have four or five guys and I think we could put out there. We saw what Mitchell could do back against Wake Forest, he had a great game against those guys, 160 yards. I think he’ll be that workhorse there. Hassan Hall’s gonna be that speed guy. Trevion Cooley, he’s got great speed, and vision ,and size. Very excited to see what he’s gonna be able to do. He’s had a great summer, even compared to the spring, he’s like a new person and new player. Greg Derossiers is another guy who’s played wide receiver and running back, so he’s another weapon. It’ll be fun to see which one rises up to be our guy.
(On who on the staff deals with bringing in transfers, and if they could bring on another guy through the portal)
We could add one more late in the game, and we’ll see what happens here. Not any guarantees on that, but we potentially could.
Our recruiting department handles that, headed up by Pete Nochta. We’re looking at them every day. We’re looking at the list of guys that are coming out, then who may fit, and what position we are looking for work. Then you reach out, and you see if there’s an interest with that, then of course the whole staff jumps on that. At that point, just work it and see if they want to, and we’re gonna make this happen. But it all starts in our recruiting department. That’s why you got to have good people in that group. The guys that can get the ball rolling, get started with recruiting these guys.
(On if there’s a way to help Malik Cunningham cut down turnovers, and if there is anything else he wants him to work on)
He certainly can work on a lot of different things fundamentally. Throwing accuracy, all those type things. A lot of them come to decision making, which one of the things that he’s been doing a lot more of, is watching film. He is studying film, and that’s just gonna help you mentally, so you know exactly where to go with the football. You don’t force the ball, I think at times last year, several of those interceptions were on fourth down, where we’re just trying to get the ball out, some unfortunate bounces, and they end up interceptions. But the ones that really hurt you are the first and second down type interceptions or fumbles that you got to cut down on. But ball handling is another thing he’s been working on in the offseason, but we all know the year before he had four or five picks to 22 touchdowns, was one of the most efficient quarterbacks that Louisville has ever had. We got to get back to that form, and he’s worked hard for that, and I think he’ll be back to that form. At times, last year, he was trying to do too much. He doesn’t need to. Play within himself, play within the offense, and he’s talented enough that he can make it happen.
(On of the program planned to grab a lot of impact guys out of Louisville, and what he’s expecting from that group)
It wasn’t planned, I think it wasn’t planned for everybody across the country, actually. It’s a way to go out and try to try to bolster your lineup, maybe where there’s some deficiencies as far as depth goes, maybe get some guys and come in that have impact. Bryan Hudson’s gonna be one of those guys this year, Kenderick Duncan is gonna be one at safety, Shai Werts at receiver and return guy. There’s gonna be a lot of these guys that come in and help us this year that transferred in. I think it’s part of college football now. Once they opened up that that avenue where guys can move around to another school, you’re able to help your lineup, you’re able to bring in some good players. A lot of teams throughout the country we did that this year, and only time will tell which ones are actually going to help. For us, it’s all about getting the right people. Guys that are going to come in and work hard, not disrupt any chemistry that you might have on your team, and then also guys that are good players. We’ve been very successful with that, and I’m so happy for the guys that are here. Can’t wait watch them play this fall and I think they’re gonna have a huge impact on the team.