The good news is that Priest Willis has been fully cleared. He's good to go. That's it. We got word of that around 2 p.m. That's a good thing. We had a couple of guys we held out here. John Lopez, just a minor ankle, probably be back out here tomorrow. Eric Kendricks still working thorough that ankle that he had surgery on but he's moving around better and better every day. Darius did most of the work. When we got to the team, he moved over to Coach Alosi just because he's not ready to catch the ball, and we're trying to keep his hand out of contact situations. Same with Charles Dawson. He went through the 13th period and then moved over there. Good energy today. Good practice. That was a full length practice. We got a lot done in 2 hours and 12 minutes. I liked the enthusiasm, I liked the energy and I thought we got better today and improved. I see older guys making strides. I see younger guys starting to get it figured out. And that's what we've got to do because contrary to what I said yesterday, it's 23 days until we'll play, otherwise we're missing our first game and I don't want to do that. Hard to point out particular guys that really stood out, but I'll mention a couple. And we'll talk young guys here first. Thomas Duarte, he gets open, he catches the ball clean. He's got a really nice feel for change of pace and tempo in his routes for finding the open spot. Priest Willis stands out. He absolutely positively can play corner at this level. He has the quickness, he has the burst, he'd got the length. Johnny Johnson, Tahaan Goodman, those three young defensive backs are standing out to me. I see good things out of Myles Jack. I see good things out of Deon Hollins. We had Caleb Benenoch in there today some with the ones at right guard. Lets temper it, its two practices out here in San Bernardino, but he looks like a guy who will be competitive at that position. Another guy who just continues to catch my eye is Ellis McCarthy. You can tell he's a different guy right now. His body looks different, it still looks big, but it looks different. He's moving well, he's light on his feet, he's quick, he's powerful, he's strong, he knows what he's supposed to do. He does it with a lot of power. It's fun to watch Torian White and the way he's progressed in a year. It's fun to watch Simon Goines. Remember Simon last year, he was a deer in headlights, he was having trouble figuring it out. This year he's a different guy and he's transformed his body. I think those are a few that stand out. I don't want to get too high on anything we're doing or anybody, right now, but there are some positives. But there are more than some things to work on to keep us busy for August 31. We'll just keep on grinding and keep on getting better every day and today was a step in the right direction.
On Randall Goforth's absence:
Randall was not at practice today. He was in his dorm room. He'll be back. He was just not here.
On the running back situation:
We've only had two practices. I don't think it's fair to even start to really, really judge those guys until we get the pads on, and our offensive lineman have pads on so they can actually block and get a little big dirty there. When they take the hits and work on ball security, when we work on pass protection. You can see the guys who have burst and you can see the athleticism and now it's the other things that we have to deal and evaluate and say, these are the three, or these are the four or these are the two or this is the one. Steven Manfro's got burst. And he's completely healthy now with hid shoulder. Jordon's got burst, Paul has burst. Craig Lee has burst, but right now he has to figure out when to turn it on. Malcolm Jones looks, once again, it's two days, no pads, but we talked about this in the spring, wanting him to run angry and he looks like he's doing it. But it's no pads, two days, so we'll see where we go from here with that.
On Steven Manfro's best position:
That's a great question, because I don't know. You would like to settle a guy in to a spot so they can really develop in that spot. But the thing about Steven is he's so versatile and we want to get him in positions to utilize his speed, his quickness, his burst, his ability to catch the ball. I think what we have to see is how Jordon is doing, and how Paul is doing, and how Malcolm is doing and how Craig Lee is doing and then see where we use Steven. We've got some pretty good guys that can play inside like Devin Fuller and Jordan Payton and Jalen Ortiz and Darren Andrews, we've got some guys in there. We just have to figure that out.
On Nate Iese moving to Y:
He is for now. And you know what, I think we have to make that commitment, because I think that's a disservice to him if we keep moving him around. You know last year, he redshirted, we moved him around, we were trying to find the best spot to play him, to utilize his ability, but that's one thing. Now, his clock is ticking. And he's a big, athletic, powerful man who's got a great attitude and great work ethic and it's up to us to find a position to play and get him on the field. And that looks like a spot that he can play, he just has to rhythm up.
On Asiantii Woulard:
He's swimming. He's swimming mentally. But he throws a nice ball. He's got stature, he has command. He just doesn't have it all down yet. He has presence. You just don't necessarily see it yet because it's hidden by the fact that he's a little bit overwhelmed. I think he's got really good leadership ability so we've just got to keep pushing him to develop and you know, once he absorbs the offense a little bit more, things will slow down for him and I think we'll see a kid who has really big upside.
On Damien Thigpen's recovery:
Thiggy, you know what, he's doing really good. He's not fully cleared. So when we go to contact, we're going to have to back him off a little bit. It's hard to predict when he's ready to go but I think it's going to be a lot earlier than I had anticipated. I think it will be sometime very early in the season. I know he's shooting for game one and that might be a little aggressive. He plays a position that you have to have total confidence and total trust in that leg. Otherwise, we put him in a situation that's really not good and it could be disastrous, so we just have to be careful with him. We haven't seen him in pads. I haven't seen in my opinion, what we've all seen from Damien, and that quickness, I haven't seen that burst come back, and until we do, it's p to us to protect him. But to me, it's a positive that he's out here doing as much as he's doing, 7.5 months after. He seems to be (fine) but you'd have to ask him and I don't know if he'd tell you the honest truth. He'll probably tell you 'I feel great and I'll be ready to play against Nevada'. I think we have to evaluate where he is, and talk to Ant and talk to Coach Alosi and talk to Damien in a real way and decide from there.
On the difference between Thomas Duarte and Darius Bell:
They're both great players. You know, Darius has the same traits that Thomas does. He knows how to work in and out of routes with change of pace and he knows how to find the opening. You see Darius' quarterback background come into play when he's running routes. He catches the ball out in front with his hands securely and doesn't double catch things. Thomas is just a little bit bigger guy so they're different body types but I think they're both really good players. And I think they both kind of have exactly what we're looking for at that position and can create matchup problems hopefully.
On punter Sean Covington:
I haven't seen him punt yet. How are you guys feeling about him? I haven't seen him punt yet. I don't know. Hopefully we won't have to use him too much. I don't think we can do the deal we did with Ka'imi, 35 and in. We don't want him out there too often. (Fourth down), no matter what. There are some statisticians out there who say you should go for it every fourth down. I don't know if I have the courage to do that. We'll just snap it to Brett, that will always be in the plan, that pooch punt there.
On Devin Lucien:
Every day it seems like he goes up and makes a fun, exciting, thrilling, acrobatic catch. I think what we're looking for out of Devin is just consistency. The highlight reel catches are great, but they have to be accompanied by consistent play. And he's capable of that. Regardless of who starts at that position, the way we operate, they're all going to play and play equal snaps.
On Dietrich Riley out helping:
I think it's very helpful. He relates well to those guys. Dietrich, as we all know, he's taking a medical retirement. He's going to be an undergraduate student assistant so he can come out here and he can coach. I just think it's important we offer him that opportunity to see what he wants to do with his life. For him to be out here, and working with Tahaan and Tyler Foreman and some of those other guys, is pretty selfless to me. He had big plans in terms of what his football career was going to look like and it didn't work out the way he wanted it. But rather than mourn, he said 'ok, I'm going to help somebody else.' I appreciate that about Dietrich but it's what we knew about Dietrich anyway, it's why he was such a leader and why we're going to miss him on the field as much as we are. I go 'how would I feel, would I want to distance myself. I know I appreciate him being out there and the players appreciate him being out here and I think it means something to them that he's out here.