Chuck Long on SDSU

Coach Long Press Conference Quotes

April 30, 2008

SDSU Football
Press Conference Quotes
April 30, 2008
Aztec Athletics Center

Head Coach Chuck Long

On having four players selected in the recent NFL Draft:
“I want to congratulate our four picks in the NFL Draft last weekend. I thought that was a very nice thing not only for our program, but for those four guys. It’s just basically hard work paying off. I wish we would’ve had them for another year or two. But that’s just the way it is, and we were fortunate to be able to coach them in the short amount of time that we’ve been here. So my hat’s off to Kevin (O’Connell), Brett (Swain), Chaz (Schilens) and Tyler (Schmitt) for getting drafted, especially when there’s only seven rounds in the NFL Draft now. Again, it’s a product of hard work. Sometimes I get a kick out of guys who are seniors and may not work as hard you want, then all of a sudden after they graduate they all think they’re going to get ready for the NFL. Then they work extremely hard from that point on. They only have three months to do it and they think they can work hard for three months and get drafted, but that’s just not the case. To the credit of these guys, they bought in and worked extremely hard, especially this past year way back to the beginning of winter. We didn’t have Kevin for much of his junior year, and to have the work ethic that he needed to have the following year is now paying off in a big way.

“I also want to give credit to the coaches who coached them. (Offensive coordinator) Del Miller really brought Kevin a long way in a short amount of time. It’s a credit to Del and what they were doing offensively and playing to Kevin’s strengths. Also LeCharls McDaniel and his receivers – Brett and Chaz came a long way as receivers, especially Chaz, who has been hurt off and on. Toby Neinas as well with Tyler Schmitt, who I said from the day I got here, was one of the best long snappers in the country at any level.”

On what lies ahead for the coaching staff following spring practice: “We are now in the process of evaluations this week. All of our coaches are bringing the players in to talk about where they are now, how they did in the spring and the goals for the fall. We don’t have a depth chart at this point, just because I want our coaches to be able to evaluate and talk to their own players first before we release it to the media. I’ve always believed in doing that so they don’t see any surprises through the media. I don’t have a quarterback depth chart. I said after the (spring) game that I’d have it by the end of the week. That’s our goal by Friday as a staff to have a depth chart and see where our quarterbacks are at that point. We may have some position moves, which is always a topic of discussion coming out of spring football. As a head coach, I want to get the best 22 (players) on the field. I also want to know who the best 44 are, because those guys will play as well on special teams as role players. Those are always issues we talk about. I don’t have any moves at this point, but we’re discussing that and will continue to do so over the summer. Those moves might not even happen until fall camp.”

On the defense’s performance during spring practice:
“I thought our defense really came on. I haven’t been here for every practice because of a family situation, but I thought our defense really came on this last week with confidence. We have the makings of a very good defense. We have to continue to work hard over the summer. I know it’s a cliché that you always hear, but that’s going to be key … We’re playing a lot more man coverage and we’re feeling a lot better about our cornerback position than we’ve had in three years. When you have good corners, you can do a lot different things with your defense, including man coverage.”

On the offense:
“Offensively, we’re younger there as you know, but I was pleased with them. They had a really good spring. We worked a lot out the spread offense. We’ve always had the spread, but we’re working less and less in terms of tightening our formations up. So we worked hard at spreading things out a little bit more, and I thought our offense really came on. The spring game was not indicative of anything. I have not put a lot of stock into the spring game, but one guy who jumped out with some toughness after being hurt off and on was (running back) Davon Brown. That’s the one guy who we want to see in that spring game and he came through with some big runs. You saw his speed – he’s one of the fastest guys on the team.

“Skill-wise, I think we’re in good shape. We just need to keep developing and keep improving. We have young quarterbacks, but I’m very pleased with their maturity, the way they throw the football and how fast they get rid of it. They really get rid of the ball fast and make good decisions.

“The offensive line is young. We knew that going in and there’s still some room to grow there. There may be possibilities down the road where we move someone with experience into that position, so we’ll keep looking at that. We think they’re on a good track. They’re going to be a good offensive line as they grow together. We recruited the right way there and like the track that they’re on. Of course, you always like to have that track be a little faster. But we have to allow them to grow and that’s why this training camp is going to be big for them.”

On the special teams:
“Special teams continue to grow. We always find role players on special teams. Bryan Shields is the front-runner to be our kicker. We believe in Bryan and he’s got a tremendous leg. It’s just matter of him being consistent and accurate. He’s really no different than where Garrett Palmer was when we first got here. Garrett worked hard at being consistent and accurate and ended up making every kick in conference play last year. Now it’s just a matter of coaching and having him work at it, but he’s got a better leg than Garrett. He’s got a live leg. Many of his footballs go over the net instead of into the net in practice, so that’s always a good sign. At punter, we’re bringing walk-ons to compete against (incoming freshman) Brian Stahovich. Brooks Beckman is in our camp, so that’s going to be a pretty competitive position this fall. We also believe we have the best long snapper in the country in Aaron Brewer coming in. We signed him (in February) and we think in time he’ll be as good as, if not better, than Tyler Schmitt and that’s saying a lot.”

On the schedule for the upcoming fall camp:
“It’s going to be our toughest training camp practice-wise that we’ve ever had. We have a lot more two-a-days this year because of the way that the calendar falls in August. It will be a tough camp physically and mentally, which is what we want, especially with some of the youth coming back on offense.”

On whether or not he was surprised Kevin O’Connell was drafted so high in the third round:
“No, I was not, because he has the rare combination of size, speed and arm. Most guys have the arm, but not the speed. Or, they have the speed, but not the arm. If they do have that combination, they’re 6-foot or 6-1. Kevin is almost 6-6 and can run very well … Because of his build and his height and the way that he performed last year being a 3,000-yard passer and our leader in rushing, I knew (teams) would look at him before a lot of other (quarterbacks). But I thought it was a great pick and a great situation for him, going in and learning from the best. He worked hard at it, so I’m not surprised at all.”

On whether any of the three quarterbacks separated themselves during spring practice:“I think there was some separation and the numbers will bear that out. We took every snap and graded it, and we’re still doing that now. We’re looking at every 7-on-7 rep, every scrimmage rep and every team rep. That’s the way we went into the spring. We didn’t just look at scrimmage reps, because we didn’t have a lot of them. So we had to look at the entire spring, and that’s the way it should be. As with any player, you want your quarterback to compete every single play … We have some young players there, but we love their leadership. They’re some of the best leaders I’ve been around at that position.”

On the improvement of the defensive line:
“It’s one of our most improved units in terms of pass rush. That is one area that we have to improve on. Coach (Mike) Nelson really emphasizes the pass rush and he teaches it very well … I think the leader of the bunch is going to be Ernie Lawson. I think he’s going to be a great leader for us. We moved Jon Soto out to the edge, which is his more natural position. Last year we played him at 3-techinque, where he’s rather undersized, but we had no choice. Now we have some depth, so we can keep him outside. B.J. Williams had a terrific spring, probably one of the best springs we’ve had of any player. We moved Siaosi Fifita from outside to inside. He’s going to be more of a 3-technique with Ernie being the nose. I thought Peter Nelson also had a nice spring. He’s a tough guy who will be in that rotation. The young man we need to get back who was hurt all spring is Neil Spencer. Neil had a great freshman year, but he had a back issue and we wanted to save him this spring. He’ll be back in the fall. Guys like Eric Ikonne and Ryan Williams, the transfer from Ohio State, showed some promise. They’re not there yet, so it’ll be a big fall for them coming up. We needed to develop some depth at that defensive end position and those two guys have come to the surface right now.”

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One Response to “Chuck Long on SDSU”

  1. ndfootballwiki Says:

    Thanks, Rock!

    I did a Willingham-esque editing job of the Presser on my blog:

    http://www.ndfootballwiki.com/tiki-view_blog_post.php?blogId=2&postId=38

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