What's your offensive philosophy?
BL: The bottom line is we want to spread you out, make you defend the whole field so that we can define your weaknesses easier, because there are 11 players trying to cover 21 zones. I talk to the quarterbacks about that all the time. Between the 8 run lanes, 5 short passing lanes, 5 intermediate passing lanes and the 3 deep passing lanes those are 21 areas of the field that 11 players have to cover. There's multiple people with dual responsibility on every play. Our job is to find those guys and take advantage of putting them in a run/pass conflict and try to take advantage of them. That's our goal.
What did you think of the receivers this spring? Who stood out?
BL: I really feel that Jeremy Dickens had an outstanding spring and if he continues to work hard he has a chance to be a real good inside receiver. Greg Ellingson, Marquis Rolle, James Rucker had good springs. Those guys come to the top of my mind, but the receiving corps as a whole has done a nice job of picking things up. I noticed those 4 guys, because they have a tendency for whatever reason they end up getting the ball. That doesn't mean the other ones are not doing a good job, because Elliott Dix, for example, I think had an outstanding spring, but hasn't had near the number of touches that those other guys had. That's just because when Dix happen to be in there, the coverage dictated that we go somewhere else.
It's like Travis Felder. We got him playing tight end to try to take advantage of his athleticism and one day we threw nine balls at the tight end and he happened to be in on only one of the plays, because we're trying to rotate people to get them the number of reps. John Ellis (below, right), we're trying to dual train and, boy, did he do an outstanding job. We're kind of trying to turn him into an H-back. That way we can run 2 backs if we want to. We can run 1 back. We can put him in a wing. He can line up and play tight end. You could do a lot of different things with him without taking him off the field. He's a good football player. Now what are you defending? Are you defending 1 back, 3 wide receivers and a tight end or are you defending 2 backs and 3 wide receivers or is it 2 tight ends and 1 back or is it 2 backs and 1 tight end? His flexibility I think is going to really pay dividends for us.
What about the running backs?
BL: I have been happy with all four running backs. I can’t sit here and honestly say one of them is head and shoulders above the others. They’ve all really done a nice job of picking things up. They got better at identifying the blitzes and protections. All have done a better job of putting their hats on and playing physical.
How has the offensive line responded to the tweaks you’ve made on offense?
BL: They are coming along. I’m a little concerned with the depth right now, because most of the second group are real young, inexperienced guys. That’s an area that we probably have the most work to do offensively, because it’s the most technical. It always has been and it always will be. It’s the most technical position to play. It will be the last position to come along. I really feel that the guys are working really hard. I think [offensive line coach] Greg [Laffere] is coaching them hard and we’ll get there. I saw improvement every single day.
Because of the concern of depth in the offensive line, is that one reason you made the quarterback more mobile in this offense or was that your plan all along?
BL: It was the plan all along. Like I said very few programs in the country can take a statue and play him at quarterback. Even the ones that do, every once in a while run into somebody that they wished they had somebody that can move around. We’re not looking for a running quarterback per se, but we do have to have a quarterback that has the ability to run. Otherwise you're playing with 10 guys on the field.
BL: I have been told it about 15 times and I'm still not sure if I could say it properly. I had 18 credit hours of Spanish in college (West Virginia), but I graduated in 1985 so I haven't used it since then. A little bit last year when my daughter was taking Spanish in school. I could remember the basics. I can still count a little bit. I could tell you that I can't speak Spanish that's about it. I hope to get some of it back.
FYI to GPPers, this new password system the Miami Herald installed for commenting on all of the MH blogs does not put out any of your information. Only I get to see your e-mail addresses and you will NOT get hit with any spam e-mail or ads by registering. The MH put this new password garbage on every MH blog, (yes, it is garbage, IMHO), because 3 of the Herald's blogs (the GPP is NOT one of them) have gotten out of hand with vulgar comments.
ridgepanther: FAU is ahead of FIU as an athletic dept. right now, because of several reasons. On the field, FAU had better coaches and recruited better in several sports during the time frame when both schools started football. As we can all see Howard S. had a much better idea on how to build a football program and recruited better than the former FIU football coach. Take for example, their quarterback Rusty Smith, who won Sun Belt Player of the Year last year. Smith was lightly recruited by D-I schools, but Howard saw something there. Plus, looking back at the first 5 years of FAU and FIU football, the Owls always seemed to be the better prepared team, with the exception of 2005.
In baseball, last weekend we saw several players on FAU's team that could have been playing at FIU. Owls 2nd baseman William Block (who was 9 for 13 with a HR and 3 SB against FIU) will play in the big leagues one day and having covered Block in high school at Davie Nova, I asked him back then if FIU was recruiting him: the answer was no. FIU rarely hit Broward County back then in baseball recruiting. Also, FAU was better prepared as an athletic department when it came to student-athlete academic support. The Owls did not take the hits FIU took with the APR and with NCAA violations during the past 5 years. Now, FIU has that S/A academic support in place. I'm glad FIU football jumped to D-I in 2005, but the Golden Panthers were not completely prepared to make the jump when they did in 2005.
Yandro: FIU signee, left-hander Mason McVay had surgery earlier in the past baseball season. Speaking with TT about him a few weeks ago, TT expects McVay to start throwing by the end of 2008 and will likely be brought along slowly in the 2009 season. Could possibly redshirt, if he's not completely recovered.