Saban, Coordinators Speak at Annual Media Day

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Saban, Coordinators Speak at Annual Media Day

BATON ROUGE — Head coach Nick Saban, along with offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher and defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, addressed the media from the Athletics Administration Building at the 2002 Media Day on Sunday afternoon.

2002 LSU Football Media Day

LSU Coach Nick Saban quotes

“It’s great to get started. I think The Advocate said it best today when they said that football is here, and we’re happy about that. It’s good to be around our football team. We have a lot of good players on our team. A lot of good people on our team and they are certainly fun to coach in the spring. They did the necessary work this offseason to come back to get started with the challenges of this year.”

“We’re excited about getting started. We’re happy to have our team back and we’re looking forward to starting practice tomorrow. As you heard me say many times before, it’s not going to change much, but our goal is to be a nationally recognized, consistent program that can win. Not a flash-in-the-pan, 10-win team that now cannot continue to have that kind of success. There are certainly a lot of things that need to be done in order to prove that we can do that, and starting practice in fall camp is certainly the starting point for developing the kind of hard-core disciplined fundamentals that you need to get your players to believe in and come together, relative to their belief in it, so that you have the chance to be the kind of team that can play the kind of consistent football to win the games that you need to win in order to be a nationally-recognized team.”

“It’s going to be very important that we focus on what we are doing now. Looking back on what happened last year is history and whatever happens in the future is pretty much a mystery, so what we can control is what we are doing today, and tomorrow we are going to focus on things that we need to do to get better in that particular practice in terms of what we are putting in on offense, on defense or on special teams. That’s going to be what we continue to focus on, on a day-to-day basis and we’ll try to play the games game-to-game as we go through the season.”

“Our camp objectives are always things that I think are important for the players, but as I mentioned are the hard-core discipline and fundamentals, the understanding of the systems on offense, defense and special teams. The toughness and togetherness that a football team has to have are all things that I think you really try to get established in fall camp. I think that because we play a top-20 football team in the very first game on the road, that it presents some different types of challenges for us, and puts a huge emphasis on us having a great fall camp. Hopefully, we’re going to come out of this fall camp with the confidence to be a good football team. That’s going to be our overall goal and objective.”

“The team came back in what I would say to be above average to good shape. I would say that 70 percent of the team passed the test and we have a pretty rigid part of a physical, which is what we call the physical training testing or PT testing, and probably about 30 percent of the guys on the team, not all of whom are guys that we will be counting on to play, probably need some improvement relative to their physical conditioning and durability. What we do with those guys is take them wherever they are and try to improve them. The reason that conditioning is so important is that they can give the effort, play with toughness and not make mental mistakes, not get tired and be at a lesser risk of injury as a team. I’m not disappointed at all in the condition that we’re in. It’s probably pretty typical for most teams and I can tell you that the guys that need improvement, we won’t let them down.”

“I think that it is really important that we develop a togetherness on this team, especially a type of trust, respect, believing in one another and we can be a good football team. Regardless of how much you talk about it, you have to go do it.”

“The only new information that I have relative to players is that Justin Vincent‘s appeal was denied, but there is another appeal process that he has to go through. It’s not something that he can do and be able to participate in practice, so it’s his plan and his family’s plan to have him retake the test. There are three opportunities for him to do that in the fall and then he can try to start in January. He is an SEC prop. He could come to school right now, but he could not practice or participate this year, so if he comes in January he will have five (years) to play four. He’s very, very close on his test scores. He just needs to make a little bit of improvement.”

On what specific challenges Matt Mauck faces as this season’s starting quarterback

“I said this before that I don’t think that you try to replace players. I think that each player has a personality and identity of his own relative to any player at any position, and you just try to play to your strengths and you hope that the players around you compliment those strengths. I think that the challenge for Matt Mauck is to play within himself, to make the plays that he can make, to play to his strengths and for the players around him to know what those things are and to put a premium on the importance of their execution.”

“We might have a little different styled team this year. We may have a little different kind of offense. We may see some more players. There may be more balance in the attack and I think that he needs to execute whatever that is relative to entire offensive team. I think that he (Mauck) had a very good summer and we’ll just see how that goes in fall camp.”

Marcus Randall is going to be able to do some very limited things in camp, so we’re encouraged by that in terms of the strength and stability that he will give to the quarterback position. We still don’t know when he will be able to play in game situations. We take these things day-to-day in order to see how a guy progresses. We won’t play him until he’s risk-free in the doctor’s opinion.”

On what he likes about Matt Mauck

“I like the fact that he is a bright guy. He has some leadership characteristics and he’s a very good athlete. He can run the ball at any time. Even on passing plays, which he obviously showed when he got the opportunity to play a year ago. I think that his understanding, the precision and accuracy in the passing game are all things that he needs to continue to work on and improve. We were encouraged in the type of summer that our players had in that area. We are kind of anxious to see how that plays out here in fall camp. I think that any time a player is a new player at a position, that it is necessary for that player to get the trust of the other players, but for him to do that he’s got to have trust and confidence in himself.”

On the receiving corps this season after losing Josh Reed to the NFL

“We have two receivers that had a significant amount of production last year. Jerel Myers has been a three year starter and has had production in every season that he’s played. Michael Clayton was one of the best freshman players in this league (SEC) last year and made a lot of plays for us. He’s healthy now and in great condition. We’re hopeful and anxious for him to be a significant player relative to our offensive team this year.”

Quotes from LSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher

Opening Statement

“We are very excited offensively going into fall camp. We have a great group of guys coming back. We are going to try to stay with the same base plays and the same things we have done in the past. We feel very confident. The good thing is that a lot of these guys have been in the same system for three years now, so a lot of little things in your offense, they truly understand. The new guys who are coming in now have a lot of older guys to learn by example. It is one thing to watch it on film, but when you see LaBrandon Toefield or Domanick Davis out there in practice, it is easier for those younger guys to learn. We have as much teaching ability from our upperclassmen as we do as coaches. Hopefully, we will continue our success on offense and do what we have to do to win the game.”

On Matt Mauck’s progression over last year

“His age and maturity has a lot to do with that. When you play pro baseball, especially in the minor league system, which may be as hard a thing as there is to do, you deal with a lot of things and people by traveling on buses and dealing with the tough schedules. His age and maturity has helped him. He has come to grips now that he is going to be the man and he is treating our players like it. He has tried to take more of a definite leadership roll over the summer program by telling guys what to do. It is hard for him to do it because he has only had success in one game. He is also doing it by example, showing his work ethic on and off the field to show guys he is practicing while he is preaching. He has to find his identity and do it well all the time. Just like I tell our guys, if you do something good, do it well everyday. If you do something bad, do it bad everyday. Some guys do certain things better than others.”

On being different offensively

“I don’t think we will truly be that different. I know we will have more vertical speed down the field than we have had in the past with guys like Michael Clayton, Bennie Brazell, Jerel Myers, and Devery Henderson. We will utilize some more speed guys. Josh Reed was more of a change of direction, double-cut guy. Reggie Robinson has good vertical speed and good size. He is big and will jump over you. Maybe we will use the quarterback’s legs some more because he (Matt Mauck) has good legs. I hate to make a prediction because I feel until the fall camp comes, we have to find our identity.  

On the role of Domanick Davis

“He is probably the most versatile guy in the country. We have to get him involved because he has excellent speed and change of direction. If you give him space on a linebacker, he is hard to cover. We have to feature him in that role. Maybe we can get Toefield and Domanick in the backfield at the same time in what we call the pony set with two tailbacks in the backfield. We need to get our best players on the field and try to get good matchups. Domanick can motion out of the backfield and be a wideout. We will have to use his versatility as much as we can.”

On the status of the offensive line

“Losing Brad Smalling and Kade Comeaux is a big loss, but we have some great young players. They will just have to learn to step up. Whoever the fifth guy his, he will have experience around him with Rodney Reed and Stephen Peterman who are very intelligent and smart. Tackle, as far as all the line positions, is the easiest to learn because of the combination of things that happen. You have to find that chemistry and communication, but it will be a challenge.”

Quotes from LSU defensive coordinator Will Muschamp

“We are pretty pleased right now with the defense and where we are. I think the kids for the most part have worked hard this summer with coach Tommy Moffitt (head strength and conditioning coach). From an in-shape standpoint I think we have some kids that are ready to go in to fall

camp and compete day in and day out. We are real pleased with some guys, especially “Bull” Brandon Hurley and Corey Webster, two guys that did outstanding on the conditioning tests when came they came in and they need to be recognized for that. From a front standpoint, Kendrick Allen’s rehab is going well and he ran on hard land yesterday and looked good. He has good range of motion and good strength. Only time will tell when he is able to help us.”

“We feel good about our front, we have a lot of potential, but we also have some green guys that haven’t played a whole lot of snaps, but depth-wise we are as deep as we have been since coach Saban has been here. We are pleased with that and the guys we have up front — Marcus Spears, Marquise Hill, Chad Lavalais, Byron Dawson and several other guys that can provide good depth for us. Linebacker obviously is a question for us from the depth standpoint, but we will continue to develop some guys to step in there. We moved Bradie James to the MIKE position and Jeremy Lawrence is back at the SAM position, so we have got two guys that have played a lot of snaps and been in the fight on Saturday night, so they know what it will take. We need, though, to continue to develop players in their roles at those positions to get the best 11 on the field in some form or fashion. We will experiment in the camp to make sure we accomplish that.

“I think in the secondary we really made a lot of strides in the spring. First we improved ourselves athletically. Corey Webster really brought some things to the table for us and Randall Gay continues to make plays. Travis Daniels and Demetrius Hookfin continue to improve so we feel better about the corner position. Damien James has moved back to the free safety position, which is basically his natural position. He has great command of the defense and we feel good about that position. When we moved Norman LeJeune to strong safety we improved in the secondary. We feel like he is a very good strong safety and we have got to continue to develop some depth there. Jack Hunt is a guy that has come along and Adrian Mayes and Travis Moses are going to provide depth. I think the most impressive thing this summer was from the leadership standpoint. Bradie James and Norman LeJeune and Kendrick Allen, from the standpoint of a guy being hurt did not fall out of the fold as it sometimes happens when a guys gets hurt. He was a leader for us as all of those guys were. They really had a good summer and from that standpoint we really feel good about where we are.”

“We have got to continue to make strides and that was the point that coach Saban has made with the football team and what I am doing with the defense just as coach Fisher is doing with the offense. We tell the guys ‘you have worked hard to this point and it is time to take the next step from a work standpoint, a physical standpoint.’ We have a great opener, a great opportunity and the kids are excited about that, but you have to out the work in to it to get the success that you want out of it. Our kids are excited about camp and cannot wait to get started. We have been getting organized here the past couple of days. We had a good freshman camp and are very pleased with all of the freshman that have come in. Our front guys are all big guys who run well and are smart, good kids and we are pleased with them. All three linebackers- Alonzo Manuel, Cameron Vaughn and Willie Demps we are very pleased with those kids — guys that only time will tell if they are able to help us or not. Freshman from the standpoint of helping you, it is not from a physical standpoint it is from a mental standpoint. From a maturity issue from where they are as football players, like are they going to be intimidated when the varsity gets here or by the speed or the quickness of the game and the scheme. Those kids that adapt well to all that will help us, and those that do not we will see later in the season. Athletically it is a very good group. The secondary kids are all athletic guys that we like. That is where we are right now. We haven’t practiced so I can’t sit here and tell you how we look because we have not been on the field. I can’t wait until tomorrow morning, I wish we were practicing today.”

REGGIE ROBINSON

“I am really happy to be back out here because I missed last year as everybody knows. I am just looking forward to different challenges. This is a different team and we have a different way of looking at the season. I am real excited to be here.”

On Matt Mauck:

“He came a long way (in the spring). Now he has the head nod to be the starting quarterback because Marcus Randall is hurt, so there is no controversy. This summer, he came to me, called me and said ‘Reg,’ it was 9:30 at night, ‘you want to come catch passes?’ I didn’t want to, it was late at night and I was with my family. But I came and caught passes with him. He really put in the time to be the quarterback this year.”

MATT MAUCK

“We have got a lot of guys who are going to contribute to this team. We are looking at this as a team and there aren’t any individuals. It’s a team effort from everybody.”

“We a lot of guys back who are very good players which will take a lot of pressure off of me as far as trying to get them the ball and letting them do some things. I don’t think it is as big as shoes (to fill) as everybody makes it out to be. I hope to be able to do a lot of things from the quarterback position that we did last year, but I am not going to try to grind my way to make things happen. I am going to rely on my teammates.”

On Marcus Randall being hurt affecting how he practices:

“I think anytime you go out there and hold back on your ability, that is when you get hurt. So I am going to go out there and play as hard as I can and give the most effort I possibly can. We have other guys who are able to step in. Like I said, we have so many good players it’s not just one person. I don’t think that I should control myself, I am just going to play the way I always do.”

DOMANICK DAVIS

“There is no more Rohan (Davey), no more Josh Reed. Those boys did a great job when they were here. But we still have a lot of talented players, young players on the team, just a bunch of players waiting to get on the field and play.”

“We are just going to do it with the players we have. We have speed, we have strength we have almost everything so I am just looking forward to what is going to happen.”

On running long receiving routes:

“I kind of did it in high school so I was a little used to it. It doesn’t matter. Whatever the coaches want me to do I go out there and practice it and try to do my best at it.”

LaBRANDON TOEFIELD

On Domanick Davis:

“I think he is quicker than me, a lot quicker than me. He can do a lot more things outside the tackles that I can’t do. I bring more of a power game to the offense. I am always running between the tackles where the linebackers are. That helps us a lot. I think Coach Fisher is going to try and use both of us in the backfield at the same time and that is something we have been dreaming about since we were freshman. We are going to try that out this camp and see how that goes and go from there.”

On preseason awards:

“I don’t really look into it. I have always been like that. That is what gets a lot of guys in trouble. They walk around and say ‘I am up for this, I am up for that, so I don’t have to do this.’ I really didn’t have to ignore it this year (because of the ACL injury), I know I have to go out there and prove myself. I look at it like I am working my way up from the bottom.”

MICHAEL CLAYTON

“I just go out and do my job. Everybody has a role that we have to do. This year we are stacked more at the wide receiver position so if teams are going to double team me or whatever, we have a lot more guys who can make plays.”

“Last year after my first two games, coach Hicks told me I wasn’t a freshman anymore. So it’s basically the same mind set. I have to go out there and compete just like everybody else out there on scholarship.”

Defensive Player Quotes

Strong Safety Norman LeJeune

“We had a great spring and I think the guys are really understanding what to do to eliminate big plays like we gave up last year. You have to be mentally tough throughout the entire game. You give up big plays when you are tired and not thinking. Our guys are working really hard to make a better name for themselves. We are all clicking together as a family right now.”

“We always want to get better. We are not perfect, but we are going to work hard on our fundamentals and support each other. We want to be coached, and we want to learn. We have experience in the backfield now. That will be a big change in the secondary.”

“I plan on setting examples for the younger guys as a leader in this secondary. I want them to know that they can always count on me. I want to be dependable and set examples on and off the field.”

Defensive Tackle Chad Lavalais

“I lead by example. The younger guys are going to have to step up this year. If these guys can see things that I am doing well, they will follow. We have to gel again as a team and play hard. We lost some key guys last year, but at the same time we have a lot of great guys coming back. We are going to have to develop a little more depth on the defensive line. The defense is going to be one of our strengths as compared to years past. I look forward to the season, but we will just have to wait and see.”

“A lot of freshmen were up here this summer and worked out really well. We had an excellent turnout for the summer program. We have a lot of guys in shape, but some still need work. We will be fine though.” 

Defensive End Marcus Spears

“It has been a long road during the transition from offense to defense. Overall, I am happy and it ended up real well. Offense is more of a mind thing. You have to know what other people are doing to adjust off of them. Defense is a lot easier to learn. On this team, I don’t think either one is more complex than the other.”

“Everything is coming along now that the veterans have reported. People have shown up to camp in great shape. There is a lot of work still to be done. For the first time in several years, we are playing a big time team the first game of the season; therefore, fall camp is going to be a lot more intense. I am looking forward to tomorrow because it has been awhile since we have been out there as a team. The heat is going to kick in, but that is what makes camp.”

“We just have to take it one game at a time. People aren’t going to take it easy on us. Winning more games is the number one goal as a team.” 

Linebacker Bradie James

“It is really not how you start, it is how you finish. Even though I am getting a lot of preseason recognition, it is helpful, but it really doesn’t mean anything. The only way I can achieve all the accolades is if the team wins and plays together. We just need to go out and play as a team and all my personal accolades will be taken care of if we win. It’s kind of tough to not get distracted by all of the preseason hype and not buy into it, but you just have to be focused on the task at hand, which is going out and playing ball and trying to lead the team to success.”

“A lot of people say that they don’t read all of the preseason things and the newspaper, but sometimes people just put them on your desk or put it in your hands and sometimes you have to read it. You just have to stay focused and go out and do what you always do and have been doing that got you to the position that you are in, and that is working hard.”

Free Safety Damien James

“I am not really a talkative guy, I just go out and call the plays and let everyone know what is going on, like what defense we are in and then everyone echoes it. I am pretty quiet I guess, just kind of a silent leader.”