Aug. 11, 2010
HEAD COACH Steve Fairchild
Opening Statement: "Thank you all for being here. We set this media day at what we think is a very good time for a football team. We just concluded seven practices. We started with pads last Monday, and had our first two-a-day yesterday. As we start back up tomorrow, we will gear it toward a scrimmage that we have on Saturday here at the stadium. My thoughts on our two-a-day practices and camp so far, I can't say how very pleased I am with this team's effort and leadership. We are far from game-ready and not as consistent in some areas as we need to be, but the overall tempo and spirit that we have from the group is really something to admire. We are much farther along defensively than we are offensively, which is to be expected. We have much more starting experience on that side of the ball, and so as far as our competitive drills, our defense is getting the better of our offense right now.
"Speaking of defense, we have made a number of moves personnel-wise. Two of the defensive linemen I'm very pleased with; Broderick Sargent and Davis Burl both moved into the defensive line during spring, bringing an element of speed which will help us when rushing the passer. Also, we've brought our freshman tight end Crockett Gillmore over there as well. I think we are much more athletic in the defensive line and obviously we will have a rotation there. Linebacker is a very strong group; all off-season people have made comments about how loaded we are at running back, and I would put linebackers in that same category. Obviously getting Ricky Brewer back from a player standpoint is important, but also from a leadership standpoint it really benefits the team. Mychal Sisson and a number of other guys who have started also help in that area. We have some true freshmen linebackers who look to be something special if they continue to work like they have been. We have some experience, three starters back, so I think we are in pretty good shape there. We are not really deep on the defensive side of the football, particularly the depth at safety is a concern.
"Special teams-wise we have our punter and kicker back. I would expect us because of our increased speed defensively to take another step up in terms of coverage. I think we did that last year. We obviously didn't kick the ball as well last year, but I think we did improve our coverage, and I expect us to take another big step in that area.
"Offensively we have a good battle going at quarterback. It looks like we are going to start a freshman QB, which I guess Caleb Hanie was the last one around here to do that. But I anticipate that battle going on for another week or so. As for our offensive line, I feel last year's offensive line was one of the better lines in college football, and four of those guys ended up in NFL camps. I think we are not as inexperienced as it looks there. We have a very young, talented group, and good numbers there, and I think we have a chance as we develop to get close to last year's group at some point. I think the development of the QB and offensive line will have a lot to do with how quickly we develop in that area. At tight end and fullback we have starters back; that's probably similar to the safety position. Obviously, Eric Peitz and Zac Pauga; we've got to develop depth behind them. We've got some candidates there, but very little experience. Wide receivers are working tremendously hard and I really like what we are doing there. I'm not sure we have a big-time, go-to guy at this point, but we have some really good guys in that area. We are loaded at running back. We are sorting through that, but we have done a really poor job during the first few practices at protecting the football and we have to step it up in that area.
"Our football team has done a tremendous job with community service. They were out in the community a lot. We had 100 perecent team participation prior to spring football. I told them I would not let them participate in spring ball if they did not have that. I asked them to work with kids and particularly get into schools this summer, and once again we had 100 percent participation prior to our two-a-days. I'm going to ask one more from them in the fall. I guess my initial feeling is they don't realize how lucky they are, and sometimes they have to stop thinking about themselves, and look at life through a different window."
On the time frame for deciding on a starting QB: "There's a chance I could make that decision before the second scrimmage, but I'm not sure I will, because with young guys, the consistency thing is always a concern. When a guy like Billy Farris could put together 5-6 days of just looking like a starting individual at QB, then you start to have a comfort zone with that."
On numbers of quality players needed to be a top program: "Obviously our recruiting has improved since I have been here. This is a process, and it's a multi-year process. We have taken steps in the right direction, although we took a few steps back last year. I do believe in what we are doing and the type of football we are building; we will in short order have players on this campus who can compete for the conference championship. Eventually we want a football team where we have a number of experienced players coming back each season, and have the type of depth in every spot that lends itself to the competition. You never want to a have a spot on your football team where there isn't a tremendously competitive battle in the spring to get playing time. Running back is a perfect example of that for us right now. I'd like every position on the team to have that kind of competition. We're not there yet, but we are certainly building for it."
On needing one more recruiting class to get the kind of depth needed: "Well I think we are close now; I'm not selling anyone short this year. We're planning on winning every game, and we'll see where we are at. If people start talking every year about what is a successful year and how many years it will take, why pin yourself down on a number? Just keep working. I'm very confident that we are doing the right thing here."
On evaluating the two freshmen QBs so far: "I think they are both good kids and both capable of being the type of QB that we need. The challenge is getting one ready to play for the opener, and getting one ready to not be a rollercoaster ride this season. Obviously there will be a little fluctuation, but we need to not go out and lose a game with five interceptions."
On differences between the two freshmen QBs: "There isn't too much of a difference. Pete (Thomas) is a little bigger, and Nico (Ranieri) is a little more mobile, but they are both very similar. They are both tough, throw a nice ball, are nice kids, competitive kids. They both want to be good, which is half the battle. But again, it's a lot difference from high-school ball, and we just have to get them ready."
On the likelihood of them both playing: "I don't know. I don't even want to speculate. They are both playing right now, so we'll continue to assess them the next couple weeks."
On the goal for naming a starting QB for the CU game: "I would like to have a clear-cut guy, but that isn't something we can confidently say is going to happen at this point. We still have some time."
On one QB being one step ahead of the other: "Neither QB is ahead of the other at this point; that changes within each drill, with every play."
On QB Klay Kubiak coming back after shoulder surgery: "He's played the game. But you can't just step away from football for a year and come back. He's healthy, and 100 percent cleared, and he knows what we're doing. He's a coaches kid; he's everything you want in that regard. But you just can't walk away from the game and then all of sudden come back in a year; it's too tough of a position. So he is kind of playing himself into whatever it is that he is, but we will know more as he starts to find himself. He'll be the first to tell you he is still catching up right now."
On comparing this year's recruiting class to last year's: "Last year's class, when we got them on campus, I knew that that group is what you are looking for at CSU. If we can do that for a couple, three or four years, we will be back where this program should be. I was very pleased, because on paper this class should be better, and now that it is here, it probably is a little stronger. There are some marquee-type players here. Are they ready to help us right now? Probably not, but the athleticism and the size is what we are looking for. I think we've had two classes now back-to-back that are pretty good, and obviously it's our job to continue to year-round recruit. Every day I go to work I am pleased to have the assistant coaches that I have, and if we just keep working at coaching, developing, and recruiting, I think we are getting the type of guys here that we need."
On whether to redshirt true freshman RB Tony Drake: "I can almost safely say Tony won't redshirt. He is one of those guys who has the chance to do something special. He is still a long way off. He is behind with some of the protection things that we are doing, but if he stays healthy, he will touch the ball."
On the prospects of other freshmen seeing the field: "I'd be surprised at defensive end if we didn't play a freshman or two, and if one of those freshman corners were not in the top four. Tony Drake, Thomas Coffman at wide receiver. There are a number of guys; if you were to ask our staff right now, I think they would name 6-7 guys who will see the football field. If you come out to practice you'll know what I'm talking about."
On depth at the defensive end position: "Well Zach Tiedgen, a non-football injury, and C.J. James, also a non-football injury, are hurt, so we wake up and start practice with two starting defensive ends out. But there are three freshmen defensive ends who look like they could give us some snaps: (Crockett) Gillmore, Nordly Capi, and Charles Green."
On moving Crockett Gillmore to defensive end: "He is one of the extremely talented kids in this class; when it's all said and done he may end up being the best, but he may never play, too. I'm being very premature. I struggled with that because he is a big-time talented tight end. He reminds me of Brady Smith, and when you're good, like we were in the 90s, you just have a really dominant defensive line. In my mind that's more important than QB. If you can line up with the defensive line, it sure does a lot of things on your football team."
On talking to the team about the CU game, and breaking the streak: "I have not brought it up yet. I like to segment our two-a-day camp into two- or three-day windows, and say, `OK, this is what we're trying to get done between now and Saturday; it's all I want you to think about.' And we continue to do that every three days or so. As we hit two weeks to go, then things will start to gear toward CU, and those things will start to come up."
On needing a win: "I think about it a lot, but I don't want to dwell on losing streaks or anything like that. Obviously we want to win a game around here; that's what we are paid to do. I am more concerned with us doing the right thing, working hard, and getting better every day. I think that everything else will take care of itself."
On good work ethic within the team: "I think it's certainly better than last year, there is no question. I'm very encouraged with their emotions and leadership. When we ask them to do something, they get it done; it's a good group. A team like this is fun to coach, and you find yourself looking forward to going to practice."
On having Ricky Brewer back: "I do think the hard work can partially be attributed to having Ricky back, but I don't want to just say it's all him. There are some other team captains who are very similar in that regard. There are guys like Zac Pauga, Eric Peitz and Guy Miller; there are a lot of good kids who are very accountable. Everyone has good players, but the ones who really want to be good and want to hold themselves accountable are the ones who will excel. I'm not sure that we did that last year, and I think this group has more of that."
On opening up with CU at Invesco Field in Denver: "I don't mind the CU game being first. I think it is a great game for everyone. The fact that it is in Denver is fabulous, and it's not a bad thing to have hanging over our heads all spring and summer. It's unique; we've been able to get on a national stage at times because those type of rivalry games are traditionally played at the end of the year. There are a lot of good things about playing them early. Yes, it'd be nice to have a I-AA team come in and play them at home, but overall, I really enjoy having the CU game first."
On preparation for the CU game: "Openers are hard to prepare for; it's almost like you have too much data. You have a whole offseason to analyze their season and their data, so it's sometimes hard, you can almost paralyze yourself."
On preparing the team for playing at Invesco: "Kids react differently; I kind of like them to go down there and play with emotion. This game is so mental; it takes sharp mental approach and emotion to play well. It's always a concern with young guys; what's Mike Orakpo going to do on that opening kickoff; I mean hopefully he's on-sides. It definitely can be a concern with young football teams, but I still love the game against CU in Denver."
On new wide receivers coach/passing game coordinator Dan Hammerschmidt: "Dan's done a tremendous job; he's always been a dear friend of mine for years. I've been impressed with him since the first practice; he's a very talented coach."
On the new Russell uniforms: "I haven't seen them yet (speaking prior to their unveiling). I have seen the design. They asked our players and coaches' opinions, so I have seen pictures, but I have not seen them in person."
On rotation of players this season during games: "I do hope to have more rotation of players within games; it's good for a number of reasons. With defensive ends for example, I'd rather have three or four, not only for competition and depth, but you also can keep them fresh, and you can play the guys to their specific specialties. If you have a guy who can play the run on first down, then he can rest up, and when it's third-and-8 you like him in there. Same thing with running back; some guys are bangers, some guys are great with the ball in space. So with that, you can use specific abilities when you have a football team like that."
FB Zac Pauga:
On new Russell uniforms: "They are tight-fitting but they give you plenty of movement so it gives you an advantage as well.
"This is the only one we've seen so far so I'm definitely excited to see the other colors."
On orange uniforms: "I'm totally excited, super pumped for that day (Sept. 25 vs. Idaho). I think we'll look great in those orange ones.
"I'm glad we got some new ones before I was gone, a little sad I won't be able to play in them more than one year, though."
TE Eric Peitz:
On new uniforms: "A little change, a little flashier, something new is always nice. Should be fun, mix and match. It'll be fun to see for sure."
On who decides what uniforms to wear each game: "Probably the seniors. We'll probably have a fashion show and make the freshmEn dress up in all the different combinations and we'll decide which looks best."
On the incoming class: "A lot, a lot of talent. A lot of guys that just want to get on the field, just raw talent. If we can just harness that and get them on the right page, we definitely get them on the field so they can make some plays and hopefully help us win."
On the offensive line: "We have three guys who have started a number of games. I think they are going to surprise the critics who say they are inexperienced, because they really have played a lot of snaps so they know what's going on."
QB Nico Ranieri:
On last season: "You can't dwell on it too much. You can learn from it, though. But you don't want to dwell on it too long. We put it behind us. I think the whole team is excited to show that last season wasn't truly our team and I think this season is going to be a much better season. We'll be able to show our true skill and talent we do have on this team."
On new Russell uniforms: "The new uniforms are great. The new uniforms are really nice. We all like them a lot."
On competing against another freshman for starting spot: "It's interesting. I knew I'd have to compete eventually. You know wherever you go at this level you'll have to compete. So I had expected it, and I'm accepting the challenge and I'm ready."
QB Pete Thomas:
On new Russell uniforms: "I really like them. Our equipment guy, Kris Young, he did a great job on them; Russell did a real good job on them. So hopefully they'll bring us some good luck this year."
On potentially being the starter: "I'm working real hard, all of us are working real hard, just one practice at a time and we can all bring some good stuff to the team."
On expectations coming into this season: "We have real high expectations. We can't think about last season. We have a lot of guys returning, a lot of good guys on defense, and young players on offense. I think if we keep practicing hard and do what the coaches say we'll be pretty good this year."
CB Shaq Bell
On the incoming class' athleticism and how it fits in with the team: "I think we were recruited to just come in here and make the team better."
On why he chose CSU: "On my visit, Momo Thomas was like, "You're going to come here, you just watch." And I did.
On hopes for his career at CSU: "I hope to get to a bowl game this year. Next four years while we are here, we are trying to get a ring."
On redshirting: "I'm not trying to redshirt. I'm trying to play and help the team win. I am an aggressive guy and came out here and have already moved up with the twos. Coach is going to play the best and if I happen to be the best, then I will play."
LB Charles Favors
On competition so far: "There has been great competition, a lot of competition so far. The best players are going to play."
On if he is ok with being a backup: "Anything for the team."
DE Eugene Daniels
On his experience on defensive line: "I think with experience you kind of know what to expect coming into games. You have played against some people, both of the CU guys are from last year so you kind of know what to expect with that but I think the most important thing with experience is that you can help other guys, learn and get on the same page because no matter what, it is a team."
On the injury-plagued defensive front: "I am not concerned because we have some good guys that have come to help us with Broderick (Sargent) and Davis (Burl), and C.J. (James) will be back pretty soon and (Zach) Tiedgen will probably be back at the end so I think we will be fine."
On being so involved in the community: "I always learned that giving back is an important aspect of life and we all have been blessed with an extraordinary opportunity and it's always great to give back to Fort Collins because they are great to us so we always try to be just as great to them in any way possible."
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