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April 25, 2012

Frank Spaziani

FRANK SPAZIANI:テつ Well, we had a very productive spring.テつ Players got better.テつ We adapted to some new systems, and it was very productive.テつ We feel we made some strides going forward in a lot of areas, and we were, I think, the first team to have spring practice in the winter.テつ There's something contradictory there.テつ Questions?

Q.テつ I wanted to ask you about the carryover from last year.テつ Obviously you guys struggled the first half of the season but seemed to put it together in the second half.テつ Do you see what you accomplished at the end of last season as being something with so many guys coming back, seven starters on both sides of the ball, that you can build on and carry over?
FRANK SPAZIANI:テつ Well, we have to.テつ We have to, absolutely.テつ That's something we talked about and we emphasized.テつ We improved as the year went on last year, and we certainly felt that the worst thing about last year was that it ended.テつ But we tried to pick up where we left off attitude wise, and a lot of this game is obviously physical.テつ But there's a big mental part to it.テつ We're trying to build on that and move forward.テつ That's what we need to do.

Q.テつ Can you assess the loss of a great player obviously in Luke Kuechly, and then also, can you fill me in on how Montel Harris is physically and what you're hoping to get from him?
FRANK SPAZIANI:テつ Well, Luke, I don't know if I can put an assessment on‑‑ I mean, his production on the field is certainly going to have to‑‑ going to be missed, just like every year in college football somebody else is going to have to step up, and we're going to have to get that production from other areas, and we will.テつ Other guys will improve, and that's just the way it is.
But what Luke brought off the field was certainly a tremendous chemistry and certainly a tremendous attitude.テつ So we're going to miss that.テつ But once again, that's college football, and things go on, and we're wishing Luke the best of luck.
As far as Montel, Montel is‑‑ he had a little setback, again, with his injury, and we're reevaluating it and working to get him to the point where hopefully he can be a productive player, but I don't have anything concrete for you other than it's still a precarious situation as far as I'm concerned.

Q.テつ To follow up on that, two topics there.テつ Did you identify in spring who you like in terms of kind of being heir apparent to Luke as your leading tackler on defense there, and who looked good to you in the spring in the running game with Montel being precarious for the fall?
FRANK SPAZIANI:テつ Well, first of all, like I say, Luke's production is going to have to come from a bunch of other players.テつ Certainly no one can be Luke.テつ But other players are going to have to step up.
But we did put‑‑ in the middle we put Sean Duggan in there.テつ Sean was a true freshman that played a little bit of outside linebacker for us, and Nick Lifka, another freshman that was red shirted, was in there.テつ They got most of the snaps in the 15 practices and made a lot of progress.
Now, where we go in the fall and exactly how we line up is still in the coaches' decision process.テつ We like a lot of things, but once again, it's about getting the players in the right position to do the right thing at the right time.テつ That's where we are with the Mike position.
We have some flexibility with some other players.
And as far as the running back situation, we have guys that have played in games and have done a good job for us.テつ Deuce Finch has been productive in games, albeit he's dropped the ball a little bit more than we would like, but Deuce is a productive player.テつ Andre Williams certainly has been productive for us.テつ He was a little nicked up last year, but he's produced, and both of those guys had very good springs.テつ And Tahj Kimble is another back that has done a good job for us and was out there in the spring and did well and gives us a lot of versatility.
You never have enough running backs as we've seen the last couple years, but we've certainly got three of them that we like, and hopefully that will be enough going forward.

Q.テつ I wanted to ask about Chase and his‑‑ can you talk about his maturity as quarterback?テつ And give us a little overview of the new approach you're taking on offense and how he fits into that.
FRANK SPAZIANI:テつ Well, Chase has made tremendous progress, he really has.テつ I don't want to revisit history a little bit, but we threw him in as a true freshman in the middle of the year, and he went through that, did a nice job, got injured a little bit.テつ Last year we had the situation that's certainly well documented, and it didn't bode well for his maturity, and we sort of hamstrung him a little bit.
But we think we've got that ship righted, and going forward he's adapted real well.テつ He's a tremendous learner and spends as much time as you want on offense and technique and things he needs to learn on and off the field.テつ He's done a great job.テつ We need him to play well if we're going to be successful.
And as far as the offensive transition has gone, I couldn't be happier with it.テつ I think the players, the coaches and everybody involved has adapted, and we're right where we need to be, albeit we have to make a lot more progress, but I think we're on our way.テつ And certainly, yeah, there will be some subtle differences, but the plays are the plays.

Q.テつ Just to follow up, in the years past when you guys have been good on offense, a lot of it has had to do with having great offensive lines.テつ Is that an area where you really made progress late last year and some guys growing into the position?テつ You're bringing a lot back.
FRANK SPAZIANI:テつ Well, once again, without revisiting history, we've got the offensive line and the numbers that we need, we think we need, to go forward and get back to exactly the situation that you described where we have a powerful offensive line and we're able to handle ourselves up front.テつ We made progress last year in so many young guys being more stable and being out there to practice, and we got that going at the end of the year.テつ We had so many young guys that came on here in the spring that are giving us some depth, and we were able to practice like we like to practice.
So we've made strides over there, and once again, we need to make more.テつ We're not quite good enough yet.テつ But we feel good about where we're at, and hopefully this summer and preseason camp we can be where we want to be on September 1st.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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