Quotes from USU’s first day of football practice

Utah State head coach Gary Andersen, senior QB Diondre Borel, junior LB Bobby Wagner, senior RB Michael Smith and junior WR Matt Austin addressed the media Monday after the Aggies’ first practice.

<strong>Senior Quarterback Diondre Borel</strong>

ON FIRST DAY OF PRACTICE… “We have two different groups right now practicing, there is an A group and a B group. The B group just finished, but I didn’t really get to see them practice. The A group was a lot better than it was last year from the get go, from last camp. We started off a lot faster. We still need to pick up the tempo, but overall everybody did well.” ON DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DAY ONE LAST YEAR AND DAY ONE THIS YEAR… “I feel like everyone knows their stuff a lot more. Everybody is moving at a faster pace. The new guys who weren’t here in the summer obviously need a little bit more learning. The coaches are teaching them during our practice, but overall it was a lot better.” ON CONFIDENCE LEVEL THIS YEAR COMPARED TO LAST YEAR… “Everybody is relaxed a lot more, and not worried about if they make a mistake, and just go hard. We’ll review it in film and we will go from there, but everybody knows their stuff a lot more, everybody is a lot more settled.” ON WHAT SPECIFIC ADVICE HE GOT FROM COACH ANDERSEN… “He just tells me the same thing, just go out there, and have fun. He tells everybody the same thing, go out there and have fun. Just know what you are doing out there, this is your team, just lead those guys, and hold everybody accountable.” ON EXPECTATIONS BEING HIGHER THIS SEASON… “We have a couple of guys missing from last year that played, but overall I feel like we are a better team, mentally and physically. We are in the system now, so we should have a lot better season. ON OVERCOMING LOSS OF TURBIN AND MORRISON… “Its a big loss. There is another guy injured too, on the defense, Jamaine Olson, so he won’t be with us this year either. Those two guys had a lot of big plays last year, but we have guys that can step up and do the same things.”

<strong>Junior Linebacker Bobby Wagner</strong>

OPENING STATEMENT ON FIRST DAY… “The first day was pretty productive, it was basically a learning experience for everybody, just getting everybody on the same page. They split it up today so the freshman and newcomers can get more reps today as well as the veterans. I think today went well.” ON HIS THOUGHTS OF THE TEAM… “I think this is a close group. Probably the closest team that I have been a part of. I think we are going to do a lot of damage this year, because we are a close group and we believe in each other. ON HIGHER EXPECTATIONS… “Expectation is high, from all of you (media) and from us. Probably higher from us just because we are trying to get to a bowl game, so I think we are ready for this year.” ON DEFENSIVE ADJUSTMENTS… “I think we made great adjustments as far as understanding the defense more, and just being more accountable to knowing your job. I think last year we really didn’t know our job as much and it hurt us on the field. I think Coach Andersen and the rest of the defensive staff have made an emphasis to focus on your job and making sure you are doing it right.” ON BEING MORE PHYSICAL… “This whole summer Coach Andersen has talked to us about being more physical. I think almost everyday in the summer we was out in the bag doing something to take that step to getting more physical and I think we are going to do that when the pads come.” ON OVERCOMING INJURIES TO THE TEAM… “Guys that will step up, that’s all we are waiting for. I know somebody is going to step up, because whenever somebody goes down somebody is ready to take their spot. Somebody will step up and help this team.” ON THIS YEAR’S SCHEDULE… “Its a tough schedule, but we are not really worried about it. We are just going to take it one game at a time, and we are going to focus on Oklahoma right now and try to beat them. I think if we do everything right, we can beat them.” ON EXCITEMENT GOING TO NORMAN TO PLAY OKLAHOMA… “I can’t wait, I mean, it is going to be a lot of fans. I think everybody on this team is ready for this game, and I think everybody on this team is getting hyped about this game. It is going to be a fun game.”

<strong>Senior Running Back Michael Smith</strong>

OPENING STATEMENT… “The first day of camp was great. The A group executed really well, the freshmen and the newcomers all got in there and got some plays. There were a few little fumbles but the first team did real well.” ON EXCITEMENT THE RUNNING BACKS HAVE IN STEPPING UP TO FILL TURBIN’S PLACE… “It is a great opportunity. I don’t take anything for granted. I have another senior I’m battling for the position too in Derrvin Speight and there’s a sophomore coming in, Kerwynn Williams. It’s a battle trying to get as much playing time as you can get, battle trying to stay two steps ahead of him, not one but two. I am just trying to teach myself and at the same time try to start.” ON THE FOCUS OF RUNNING BACKS SINCE TURBIN’S INJURY… “Its not so much pressure, its like I said, we will all play. We all have talent. Coach just felt like he was better at the position at the time. Right now I feel that it is supposed to be my position, I stepped up and worked on my hands, my footwork, and everything I need to work on to fill Turbin’s shoes and go beyond and take a step forward.” ON TURBIN’S HELP FROM THE SIDELINE… “Robert is helping us a great deal, he is always talking to me “did you see this hole, you need to slow down a little bit.” He has helped me because he played a more than us last year, and I was a JC (junior college) transfer, so he played Division I football already and knows what you are supposed to see, and how you are supposed to react. You just have to adjust to it.” ON THOUGHTS ABOUT THE SCHEDULE… “It has the opportunity to win at all times. We have great talent on both sides of the ball, we have got speed everywhere and we are very diverse. We can go to a trio package with three running backs, we can go to one running back, all quads with four receivers, we are diverse. I feel that we can be WAC champions and a bowl win team.”

<strong>Junior Wide Receiver Matt Austin</strong>

OPENING STATEMENT… “The first day was good to me, as far as the vets, we just need to pick up the tempo a little bit. We are on point right now and looking forward to the season, it is coming close we’ve got a few more weeks and we will see how it goes.” ON HOW CAMP WAS IN LIGHT OF HIS INJURIES LAST YEAR… “Today was actually good, I was actually on the field a lot. I got a lot of reps, they split it up so we can get more reps with the new players. As far as today goes for myself, I feel that I had a good day, it can be better like always. We need to run a little more and get in better shape but other than that I think we did pretty good today.” ON CONNECTION WITH QUARTERBACK DIONDRE BOREL… “Diondre is good right now, sometimes he thinks he messes up a lot, but he doesn’t. He is a great quarterback. We’ve connected quick, just like a lot of other receivers with him.” ON STEPPING UP TO BE A LEADER… “It wasn’t really just me, (wide receivers coach) Coach Bouknight told us that somebody had to step up. I am not really a vocal leader, but I think that I have to be, and now I have gotten better with it. Really I am just showing I can be a leader on the field and off the field, and making plays to be a leader, like that I hope my plays will show.” ON RECEIVERS TAKING A LOAD THAT INJURED RUNNING BACK TURBIN WOULD NORMALLY TAKE… “We are approaching it good, Michael Smith jokes that he thinks we are going to be a trio the whole time. I think we have enough talent in the receiving core to step up and take that load off of the running backs. As far as the running backs go, Michael Smith, Derrvin Speight and Kerwynn Williams, and we have a new running back in Joey DeMartino, we can do it. The running backs are good enough, Robert Turbin was good but we have a lot more talent too, so it is going to back and forth with the running backs and the receivers. We will see how it goes. ON HIGHER EXPECTATIONS AND PRESSURE… “Not really more pressure on ourselves, I think everyday we just need to get better. We really don’t care about the polls, we just come out here and work hard. That is our goal, to get better than last year, just to prove to everybody that we’re better. They don’t know Utah State, we are trying to put ourselves on the map, and show them what we are really about. As far as our schedule goes too, with that, everybody thinks our schedule is hard. I think we can compete with anybody out there, at this point we work hard enough, our coaches are very talented, we work too hard to not beat any teams out there.” ON IF USU HAS A CHIP ON THEIR SHOULDER… “Yeah there is. Like I said, it is the coaches that really helped us. I wasn’t here before with the other coaches, but the coaches helped us out a lot. I think that everybody on the team got better, we all took a giant step to where we were before with the other coaches. We do have a little chip on our shoulders, and we have got to prove a lot, but I think that we are going to do it this year.” ON FEELING OF CONFIDENCE… “Around this time last year, I was working out on the sideline because I was hurt, but you can tell everybody this year wants it more than they did last year. We are more hungry, we work harder, the coaches realize it too because they are giving us more breaks for stuff, because we have been working too hard. That is really it, we are all hungry, we want to win, and we are going to prove ourselves this year, that’s all.”

<strong>Head Coach Gary Andersen:</strong>

ON SPLITTING INTO GROUPS DURING PRACTICE… “The biggest reason is because we have so many young kids in this program. There are 58 kids that weren’t here when we got here three semesters ago. We have to continue to look at those kids, spring ball doesn’t give us all the opportunities to look at the new young athletes that we have in the program. They’re going to get reps on offense, defense, and special teams if we split it up. If we don’t split it up it’s almost impossible to get every young men quality reps so that’s the biggest reason. It’s a grind for the coaches but its good for them, 42 periods grinding away, I like it.” ON THIS YEAR’S STARTING POSITION COMPARED TO LAST YEAR… “It’s definitely smoother. Now I’m never going to say simpler, but definitely smoother with the knowledge base of what the kids can expect of me and what I can expect of the kids, and how the whole system runs. Its been a much smoother process from the second we walked in, to our first meetings last night as far as our administrative meetings all the way through our dinner, and then through our practice today. The kids are working hard and there are not many surprises yet, which is the nice thing so far.” ON THE TEAM’S RESPONSE TO HIGHER EXPECTATIONS… “I think they’ve responded well to it. Hopefully they answer the question the way I’ve asked them to which is not to talk about it. The only goal we have right now is to get better at the issues that cost us winning games last year. That’s where we sit as a football team, I would hope that expectations would grow as we continue to develop this program. Right now we’re a football team that has an awful lot to prove that hasn’t done much yet. So we’re excited to keep working.” ON ADDRESSING ISSUES THAT PREVENTED WINS LAST SEASON… “We’re talking about red zone offense, and red zone defense. On offense we want to not kick field goals, we want to score touchdowns, and on defense vice versa. We want to force people to kick field goals. In short yardage critical situations on third and fourth down we need to execute better on both sides of the football to be able to take the next step and become more physical. On the defensive side of the ball, we need to be better in a lot of areas, we know that. What we did is we broke them down in practice, we broke them down in the film room, and we broke them down all summer long and we make it an emphasis. We don’t hide from our issues, we know we have issues, and we talk about it, we execute it, then we practice getting better in those scenarios. At the end of the day we need to identify the issues, then the young men need to go out and make plays.” ON ROBERT MARSHALL… “He’s a big, powerful, strong running back. Can he do that as a freshman as he walks in here I don’t know. I think he’s adapted to the system very well. I think he’s adapted to Logan, and Cache Valley, the young man absolutely loves it here. I think he’s a great talent. We’ll see what the time frame is on him. He’s going to be a big back for us. He is 235 pounds today, and over six feet as well.” ON RECRUITING MAXWELL LACY… “I knew of Max. Max is a great kid, and Coach Gerke has known his family for a number of years. As he went through the process Max got himself in a position to be eligible, and he’s a quality football player. He was a highly recruited young man a year ago. He got his AA degree and he got himself to where he needed to be. He’s just been here a couple days, so he’s a little behind as far as the time frame goes with being with us, but he’s a big tall corner that runs very well. We’re very excited to have him in our program. He is a tremendous young man. I think Coach Gerke did a great job with getting him here and he feels comfortable here.” ON THE DEPTH CHART AT QUARTERBACK… “It’s one, two, three, four quarterbacks. We all know who our starting quarterback is that’s not a real secret. From there, opportunity is going to knock for those kids every single day. They’re in a position where they can’t walk out there and start counting their reps, they’ve got to make their reps count every single time they get an opportunity, and I believe those three young men will decide who is the second team quarterback.” ON INJURIES TO TURBIN AND MORRISION CHANGING TEAM’S APPROACH… “I feel very good about our running back position. Like I always say when I’m asked this question I feel for Robert. He’s a tremendous player. He’ll be out here, and still be on our leadership committee this year, and he will still be at practice every single day. The adjustments we make are Derrvin Speight and Michael Smith need to make plays. Kerwynn Williams needs to step up and make plays, and we did go out and get Joey DeMartino to come out and be another back for us. So we have four backs that we that we figure will be quality backs we’ll see when we get the pads on. The injury to Stanley, someone needs to make plays at the wide receiver position. That is a big question mark in camp what receiver is going to come in and make plays that Stanley was capable of making for us because we have not seen that yet. But we’re only one practice into it.” ON MATT AUSTIN… “Matt made plays today. He jumped out two or three times. He is a very physical young man, he’s able to separate more with his power, and his ability to control his body in tight spaces. Maybe not so much with flat speed, but he’s got great ball skills, he’s a great receiver when the ball is in the air he does a tremendous job of going and getting it. I expect him to be a force at the wide receiver position this year and I know Diondre feels very comfortable with Matt, but we still have to get in pads.” ON MATT AUSTIN’S LEADERSHIP… “It’s what I would expect out of anyone that has been here for a year, but a young man that went through what he had to go through to come here as a JC (junior college) player, and broke his foot. He learned a lot, and wrapped his arms around that situation and became a leader for us. He developed himself nicely and I’m proud of the way his leadership skills have developed so far.” ON QUARTERBACK EXPERIENCE EFFECTING FALL CAMP… “We’ll do everything we can to put a big bubble around Diondre to protect him, obviously that is a priority. We won’t hit him just like we never do, but when we walk into a second team situation, Diondre has still got to get the reps. He is still the starter so he needs a bunch of reps and by no means do we feel Diondre’s arrived and neither does Diondre. So he wants those reps but we have got to get those second guys and the third guys the reps. The challenge is two, three, and four are kind of stacked up, there needs to be some separation there hopefully that happens in the next couple of days.” ON VETERAN LEADERS WAGNER AND BOREL AFFECT ON THE COACHING STAFF… “I don’t think there is any question when you’ve got a young man on offensive side and on the defensive side that have proven they go in for 12 games and play well at an extremely high level, its always nice to have good players. Doesn’t matter what you call it, there is nothing magic out there players make plays. The thing I would say the most about those two young men is they have done a tremendous job of leadership skills, particularly off the field they have done a good job in the classroom, they are a good role models for these young men to follow.” ON THE SCHEDULE… “Yes a challenging schedule no question, we jump out of the gate with obviously a tremendous football team in Oklahoma, with a tremendous tradition we are excited about that opportunity. Then being able to come home for two home games in a row is great. We’ve got national television here for a Friday night against BYU. I’m very happy with the schedule and I think it’s very competitive, and the WAC every week is a dogfight.” -USU-

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