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April 25, 2015

Paul Chryst

PAUL CHRYST:  Well, appreciated the way the group worked this spring, and I enjoyed, and I think it was important for us of us coaches to get to know this team, and I think that's begun.  We're certainly not‑‑ there's still a lot of getting to know them and get a feel for who they are, but it was fun this spring being with this group of guys.
Today, any time you have this type of format, you're going to see some good and some bad on each play, and I thought some guys took advantage of the opportunity to play, and it was good.  As you go through it, you've got four phases to get ready for a season, and winter conditioning, spring ball, we're done with those, and we've got to finish up in school, and one more week in the weight room, and then guys will‑‑ after finals will go home and come back, we've got to have a great summer and a great fall camp so we can be as ready as we can for this season.

Q.  I think you were asked just past the midway point of the spring about Rob Wheelwright and he was out at the time, and you said it's not that he wants to be out, but since he's come back and with what he showed today, do you expect him to be able to give you another playmaker, no matter where it is, just somebody to be able to make some plays for you all?
PAUL CHRYST:  Yeah, we need‑‑ hopefully Rob can take this and gain some confidence from it.  A perfect example, I think, of a guy that wants to but needs to have a great summer.  I thought Reggie Love was making progress towards the end of spring practice, and wasn't able to go yesterday and today, but there's a group there.  I thought Alex Erickson has been consistent and appreciate and feel like I know what he can bring.  But as a group, there's still some question marks, and yet I think there's some guys that have shown the ability to be significant contributors, and that's, I think, a great illustrate, group‑wise, if they can take advantage of the summer and then lead into fall camp with it‑‑ because if we're going to be any good, we've got to get some production at that position.

Q.  How big of a concern is the depth on the offensive line right now?
PAUL CHRYST:  I mean, you saw the game.  It was‑‑ we're not nearly where we want to be, and I think there's some guys that have grown and done some good things, but right now we don't have the depth that maybe we'd like to have, but we've got guys that I think did a lot of things this spring and learned, and I think they grew.  The one thing that as we were going through it, not a lot of continuity, a lot of shuffling, and that's hard on an offensive line.  I think we've just got to learn from what they did this spring and got to be better.

Q.  Corey's sitting out obviously gave Dare and Taiwan a couple of opportunities to get carries.  What did you think of their performance and did each show what they're capable of doing?
PAUL CHRYST:  I think so.  I thought Taiwan to me had a couple runs where he showed really good patience, and his vision, and as he gets more comfortable with the offense and maybe with himself, too, that'll help.  I thought he had‑‑ overall I think he had a really good spring, from where he started to how he finished, and Dare is a guy that's been around it, a little bit more mature, a guy that I think can contribute in a number of different ways, and certainly had a couple big runs today and did some good things.
I think we might have started to develop some depth there.  I thought that Corey finished the spring on a high note.  Obviously not today, but last couple practices we had where he did a lot of football.  I think he was at his best.  We've got to keep just‑‑ I think you can take that, especially on the offensive side, did some things, but we've got to‑‑ nowhere near where we want to be, and we've got to really‑‑ we've got to grow.

Q.  You mentioned about getting to know this team.  I'm curious about what you learned about all your quarterbacks in this spring and what you want to see from them when they‑‑ obviously through the summer but when they come back for camp where do they need to be based on where they are today?
PAUL CHRYST:  Yeah, I think Joel certainly‑‑ and you guys know this.  He's played a lot of football.  I think that he still needs to continue to learn this offense.  There's the trust factor of trusting himself within the offense, and I think the lack of continuity at the receiver position, we've got to develop that.  I think summer that is one area that he can spend a lot of time with them and build that.
I thought Bart showed some‑‑ in some of those scrimmage type situations, I think his strength is he goes out and just competes.  There's areas that he needs to clean up, but I was impressed with that.
DJ, today was a little bit of a glimpse, and many of you were there last Sunday, when it's live that's a pretty good thing for him, and yet I think as he learns and understands the balance of when you're scrambling, pulling the ball down versus maybe hitting a check down on that.  Young player, and yet I really liked his approach to it all, and like young players had some ups and downs.
I thought Alex Hornibrook overall had a good spring for his first spring, and that's a tough day on all of them when you're with the 2s going against the 1s.  Lived that a number of different ways, and it was fun to see Austin come in and compete today.
So it's a group that, like I said earlier, I forget which group we were talking about, but did some good things, and I think we do know them a little bit more, so you take the offense and you make sure that it plays to the strengths of our players and find a way this summer and fall camp to keep getting them to grow, develop them.

Q.  You talked about the receivers and the quarterbacks, but in general do you see the makings of a more effective passing game?
PAUL CHRYST:  I think we can be pretty good throwing the ball.  But we've got a lot of work to do, and hope it's not a method, but I think there are pieces.  I think that the tight end position, we've got some guys that can contribute.  In the throwing game, I think that we'll find a way.  We'll get some receivers that will step up, and I feel good there.  I think our running backs can help us in the passing game.
I believe there's pieces, and we've just got to put them all together, but I do think we can be a team that can be two‑dimensional.

Q.  You know the extent of Caputo's injury today, and do you expect to have Dan Voltz back by the fall?
PAUL CHRYST:  Yeah, Mike just got a little bit of a‑‑ we had a couple guys, especially Mike, Darius, got a little bit banged up, and if it was a game, would have been playing.  A couple things, one, they've played a lot of football, and wanted to see some other guys play.  Dan, I anticipate him being back certainly for fall camp.

Q.  What are your impressions of your defense, not only today and how it's come along in the spring here?
PAUL CHRYST:  I think if you look, I was really impressed being around Joe and Vince, our outside linebackers.  I really like them as players.  I think that we‑‑ Jack Cichy had a good spring, Jesse Hayes.  I think we've got good depth at the outside backer position.  I thought the one unknown coming in was the inside linebacker position, and you know, probably like we were talking about on offense, that we're not really where we want to be, but I liked what Leon and TJ did.  I thought that the format of the game and what we were doing offensively played into the fact, they should show up today, but they did show up.  I liked seeing that.
In the secondary we've got guys that have played a lot of football.  I've got a lot of respect for Mike as a football player, and Tanner I think brings a lot to the defense, and at the corner spot, Sojourn and Darius have played a lot of football.
I think on the D‑line, Arthur Goldberg didn't practice last week or so, but I thought he was having a good spring, and Conor I think brings something to it, and Alec and Chikwe I think we can develop and have some strength in numbers there.
I think if you look at it right now and assess where we're at, there's certainly fewer question marks on defense, but I think that overall we've got some guys that if we're going to be good, they need to be good, and I think they're capable of being that.

Q.  Building off of that a little bit, did you like what Chikwe did today, especially in the pass rush?
PAUL CHRYST:  Yeah, I did.  Chikwe has got some ability.  I liked what he did.  I thought Alec showed up, Conor showed up on it.  I liked the way the guys played today.  I thought they understood what we were trying to get done, and some guys showed up, and it was fun to watch them compete.

Q.  Looking forward, how do you plan to use the extra time in the summer with the players?  How do you plan to use that time?
PAUL CHRYST:  I think that we'll try to‑‑ in June we'll have more interaction with the coaches and players and make sure that what we're doing kind of fits, they understand what we're looking for in the summer conditioning program, and honestly I think July is a great time to hand it over to the players.  Even before they had the rule where coaches could be involved, some of the best teams I was a part of here, they truly got better, and it was led by the team.  I think the summer is a great time‑‑ there's always that transition from the previous season to the new season, and leaders emerge, and I think we've got some guys that are and can be really good leaders, and I think that's the time where the team, the players take charge, and so June we'll have some interaction, and then July you really want to leave it to the players.  I think there's something to be said about it's a long season, and players want to‑‑ they don't want to be around the coaches 12 months out of the year.  I think it's pretty healthy for the coaches to be away from the players and give them a chance to form their identity as a team.
I love the summertime.  It's pretty good for them.

Q.  Coming into the program, what did you mainly focus on to have these players buy into your system, and how do you think that went over the winter and spring?
PAUL CHRYST:  Yeah, I never thought of it as buying into my system.  You know, this program, I don't think the game is about one person.  I think the number one thing we had to start developing was the relationships, and I really do believe that players need to know that you care about them and that you can help them, and that's in all areas.  So I think we've started that.
I think it helped that we had some previous relationships, so it kind of helped shorten the curve for some guys, but I've been a part of it as a player and as a coach when there are transitions, and those aren't easy on players necessarily.  And so I think the best thing you can do is let them know what you're doing, why you're doing it, what your expectations are, and I think we've started that.  Like I said, I appreciate this group.  It's a good group to work with.

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