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Head Coach Gene Chizik Add Comment    Aug 31, 2011

Head Coach Gene Chizik

Opening statement

Game week is finally here. Its obviously exciting for our team and our coaches, and I know our fans are excited. Were really looking forward to a great opening challenge with Utah State and the challenges that they pose. This is (head coach) Gary (Andersen)s third year. Hes done a really nice job building the program just the way he wants it. Offensively, they have a lot of returning starters. Its going to be a challenge for our defense. Everything starts with the offensive line, as we know. They have some veteran guys up front, which will be challenging for our young defensive line, as we know. Itll be a good first challenge for us. They have a running back coming back that had a great year a year, two years ago. Hes now healthy and back in the mix, so thats going to be a great challenge for us. Were anticipating preparing for a two-quarterback system type situation with two different types of body types playing quarterback. Thatll be a challenge for us, as well, so we have to be ready on that front. Defensively, it appears that theyre jumping in and out of a three, four-man front defense. Those are challenges as well, starting with our offensive line. Schematically, that poses some challenges for us there. Theyre doing some things defensively. They have a couple of really good players on their defense starting at inside linebacker; two really good football players there for sure. They dont have as many returning starting guys with experience defensively, as they do offensively, but they have a lot of good players on their defense. So schematically, thatll be a challenge, as we know that. Again, their kicking game, they have some challenges for us there. They have a kick returner, Kerwynn Williams, that is probably averaging somewhere between 26 or 27 yards per kickoff return. Hes set numerous records there, as well. So its a very solid football team. Again, a great challenge for our very young team going into the first game. Were excited that its here. Weve had a really good fall camp. Im sure that you guys have seen the two-deep now with what weve come up with. Again, its going to be really interesting. Its going to be a lot of fun. I think we counted it up, and were going to have anywhere between 25-30 players playing Saturday that have never played a college game, which ought to get extremely interesting. Were going to have a lot of fun with it. Theyve worked really hard. They want to be really good. Itll be fast moving for them, but the game will eventually slow down for our young guys. Again, were looking for a big performance from our whole football team.

On working the younger players into the game who are not starters

The plan is to really play the guys who we think deserve to play, whether it be early in the game or late in the game, whatever the situation calls for, the guys that have worked hard enough and deserve to play and have really earned our trust to play, were going to put them in whenever we feel like the situation is right. Were not holding anything back. Youre going to see them on the opening kickoff, youre going to see them on the opening kickoff return, depending on which one we do, youre going to see them throughout the offense and the defense. Thats just where were at. Although, at this point, coaches get very reluctant to just put them in right at the beginning of the game. Were going to have to get past our reluctance to do that, and just do it. Thats just where were at.

On how the participation report might look after playing so many players

If you look at it, before we gave out the scholarships to some of the walk-ons a few weeks ago, were really playing with somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 scholarships. So, its all hands on deck. In terms of the participation chart, there are going to be quite a few. Again, as I said, a good number of those guys are going to be freshman and redshirt freshmen. Then when you look beyond that, a lot of guys that were considering veterans, they havent really played that much either. Everybody has to participate. Offense, defense and particularly special teams, its going to be team by committee. Thats just the way its going to be. But again, we have to get past any reluctance that we have to do it, and put them in the game and let them play.

On preparing quarterback Barrett Trotter for his first collegiate start

Im excited for Barrett Trotter. Im excited for him. I have a lot of confidence that hes going to go in there and be very poised, I really do. I feel like hes going to be very poised, and hes very prepared. We still have a week left. This is really practice number one, game week. Im excited for him. I think hes going to be excited, but again, I think hes going to show a lot of poise, and hes going to show a lot of confidence. He has a great grasp of the offense and what the plan is already. I think its going to be a great day for Barrett, and again, were going to go in and were going to evaluate when we get done with game one and see where were going for game two. There are a lot of positions out there that were anxious to see how they prepare and how they play in front of 90,000. But again, Im excited for Barrett.

On Onterio McCalebb starting ahead of Michael Dyer at tailback

I wouldnt read anything into that at all. You know how we run our offense with Michael and Onterio, and youre even seeing some of the freshmen. Youre going to see Anthony Morgan. Again, youre going to see a lot of faces at tailback as well, so I wouldnt read anything into that.

On redshirt freshman Chad Slade and freshman Reese Dismukes starting on the offensive line having not played a collegiate game before

That is going to be part of the journey that were going to be on. Its really challenging when you take a true freshman and you put him at center in this league. Thats really going to be interesting. Reese is extremely intelligent as a football player. I still feel like its going to be a great learning experience. I think its going to be a great first game for Reese simply because hes gone against our guys every day in practice and kind of has an idea of what thats like, but now also were going to ramp it up a notch when we get to game day against some very big, physical defensive players, especially now when youre looking at potentially getting head-up nose guards on you and no shade on there where you potentially might not get a lot of help from a guard. So Reese has some challenges, but physically, the more games he plays, youre going to see him get better. I feel very confident in that, in all the calls he has to make, in a game like this where it could be a little bit of a three-down front, could be a four-down front, there will be challenges for him in there, too. We feel very confident in his ability. Chad has gotten better and better all through camp, theres no question about that. Has he arrived? No, but we feel very confident that he can protect the edge, and he can be a physical run blocker. He has 300-plus pounds. Hes dropped some weight since he came here last year. His eyes will be big on the first day too, but thats OK. Hell get used to it, and the game will slow down for him, as well.

On wide receiver Travante Stallworth

Travante has been a guy that is kind of old steady. Hes a very savvy football player. He understands coverages. He understands where hes supposed to be, when hes supposed to be there, and at wide receiver, as you know, trying to find holes in the defense becomes a huge part of your game. He was limited when he hurt his knee. Its been a journey for him getting back, so Im very proud to see that hes come on so well in camp. Physically, I think hes close to being where he was before he got hurt, and mentally,

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