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Mario Cristobal on Sun Belt Conference Call

FIU's spring game was weeks ago, and training camp is still another three months off. Perfect time to talk football, right?

The Sun Belt thought so, organizing a conference call with the league's nine coaches for reporters Monday morning. Mario Cristobal held court, and while there really was no news broken, here's a taste of what he had to say ...

On what the team accomplished during spring practice: “We identified a couple of areas where we needed to improve drastically in. We learned we can be a lot more physical, and a lot more athletic. We certainly feel like we’ve enhanced our secondary, and enhanced our quarterback corps. We came out relatively injury-free. We have a fair amount of upperclassmen coming back. There’s a lot of excitement based on achievements of last season.

If there were position battles to watch: “There’s spots all over. It’s hard to pick out one or two that are the focal points of everything. We worked on third downs, red zone efficiency. You’re putting guys in high-pressure situations with a lot of live action out there. A lot of tackling. Made the most of what we were allowed by the NCAA. Most of these battles will be solved during two-a-days. We feel like we do have more depth than in the past.”

On how the program will sustain its success from 2010: “We kind of think it not being a one-hit wonder. That was a four-year process that culminated in something very positive. We think we’ll continue to add layers to that, with the right type of character kids. Obviously, Troy has done a phenomenal job of setting the bar high, I think what everybody is starting to recognize is the Sun Belt conference is a good conference, and is gaining momentum. Look at respective recruiting backyards, you’ll see teams continually improving, and we’ll start to make a run at these BCS opponents, year in and year out. It’s going to be up in the air. Everybody has a chance of it.”

If he felt some of the Sun Belt players were overlooked in the NFL Draft: “They might have been, but it’s just like recruiting. It’s not how you go in, but how you come out. Plus, you see some of the rising seniors this year, you’ll see that number [of drafed players] increase significantly over the next couple of years. I think it was a positive day, and I would note that the Sun Belt had more guys drafted than the MAC.”

On Anthony Gaitor going to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: “Obviously, he’s a great football player. For four years, he’s been an impact guy. He makes coaching a whole bunch of fun.”


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