“Oh, we had a lot going on, lot of different situations,” VanGorder said of Monday’s practice. “We try to hit a number of different situations each practice.”
Chizik said the emphasis at Monday’s practice was on physicality.
“Everything we’re trying to do is we’re trying to really build on the concept of physicality and being physical,” Chizik said. “You know we’re working in that direction. I think today was a good start, and again, there’s so much to learn by so many people in so many different positions that overall I was pleased with today. And you know, again, just pushing through a hot day, stayed outside most of the time, and really pushing through a tough practice, and again just really emphasizing the physicality of the game. We went live today some and tackled, which was good for the first day.”
When asked about the possibility of a freshman jumping in on the first game, VanGorder said it could happen.
“If we’re going to live with some errors at that position, from all the competitors, then the decision will come down to production,” VanGorder said. “Right now we have a group of linebackers that, you know, their numbers in the error category are not good. So when you have that, you really have to make a decision based on who’s at least going to be productive.
“So if a freshman has enough confidence and enough poise to play in a situation like the first game, then, you know, he’s got every chance to start and to play a lot of games.”
Chizik added that he was very proud of the true freshmen he’d seen play.
“All of them are really, really focused and into it, and they’re all trying to get a job, so that’s really good,” Chizik said.
Quan Bray, sophomore wide receiver, added that he thought there was the possibility for a lot of competition for positions.
“Every spot’s open right now, from offense and from defense,” Bray said. “It’s good for us right now because we get to compete.”
Chizik also acknowledged there were positions widely still open.
“There’s a lot required of these guys in this defense, and so I feel like there’s positions available everywhere,” Chizik said. “I don’t feel like there’s one guy that’s just stepped up to the front and you can say, ‘Wow, he’s really turned this game around.’ But again, there’s a lot of learning still going on. So they’re trying hard, and you know the effort is good.”
Looking to the future, VanGorder said the first game will be crucial in establishing his team’s ability to improve.
“Obviously, the picture that I have, the process that we’re going through, you know, I would expect that we would improve through the season,” VanGorder said. “And you know the first game, there’s going to be some issues, and if our guys hold up and play through some of those ebbs and flows of that ball game, that’s going to be really critical in establishing that ability to keep improving through the year.”