“I really think that in the last scrimmage and the last few practices, I’ve seen a lot of improvement in a lot of players this spring. A lot of guys have gotten a lot of reps. I’m very pleased with the progress that a lot of players have been able to make. It gets a little bit disappointing sometimes when every player on the team can’t be out there getting reps, improving and getting better and we certainly had several guys who were not able to participate much who could be key contributors to our team next year.
“But on the other side of that, the guys that get the reps in their place have a greater opportunity to improve and get better. So I’m looking forward to the day when we can get all our players healthy and we can develop a little team chemistry. I think these kinds of things, when some of the leadership on the team isn’t out there participating every day, it also has the same effect. It requires other people to assume a role that will be healthy for our team in the long run.
“I think the No. 1 goal that I would like to see this team focus on in A-Day _ because this is really the first opportunity for this team, even though there will be a significant amount of players missing in action from this game, that this team has a chance to create an identity for themselves for the first time publicly, at least, in terms of how they compete, the kind of intangibles that they play with. The things that have always been important to our team. Playing with great effort. Being relentless in the way you compete. Play the next play. Play with mental and physical toughness and discipline to execute and do your job on a consistent basis.
“Obviously the format of the game will be simplified so that the players can play fast. The format of the game will be as it has been in the past. The first defense will be on a team with the second offense. The first offense will be on a team with the second defense so the 1s will compete against the 1s and the 2s will compete against the 2s.
“We will be playing for steak and beans. All the coaches got drafted yesterday (Wednesday), all the support personnel in the building got drafted yesterday, so everybody in the organization is on a team except me. I am the commissioner in this particular game so under no circumstances will I be eating beans on Monday. I’ll be jumping on the winning team’s back and riding them right to the steak (and beans, I think he said)
“We’re looking forward to Saturday. I think it really means a lot to the program and it really means a lot to our players. It really means a lot to recruiting that we have a tremendous crowd and people show their interest in the team. We don’t like for our team to be complacent in any way. And we certainly don’t want our support and our fans to be complacent in terms of the support that they give our players. This is one opportunity _ our players have worked hard through this offseason. Our players have worked hard through this spring practice, so this is the one time for them to have a little bit of fun, show what they can do in front of the fans who they have a tremendous amount of respect for. And respect the support that you give them. So hopefully we’ll have a great crowd _ it’s supposed to be a nice day _ and we’ll get a whole bunch of people out there to show their support for our players and our program. And it’s great tradition here. There’s so many great things that happen on A-Day here. I see people canceling their spring game and that would be like Harry Carey around here. You’d never think of doing that because of all the great traditions we have. So we invite everybody to participate in all those things. We’d love to be able to see them come back and have an enjoyable day, especially our former players and all of our fans.”
There was a story about Jalen’s dad raising the possibility that if he isn’t a starting quarterback, he might look at transfer options. Have you had any discussions with Jalen and his family about that?
“I think that what we’re focused on, and I had a meeting on Saturday with Jalen’s dad after the scrimmage. And it was a very positive meeting. I think we all want the same thing for all players that compete on our team, regardless of position. Even though there’s going to be a significant effort on a lot of folks’ part — none in this room, obviously — who want to make this a very public thing. But it’s going to be handled in a very private matter. In our conversation, I was very positive and upbeat. Jalen has done a great job. He’s made a significant amount of improvement. His dad was very positive. But I think, at the end of the day, everybody has career decisions that they’ll have to make. Nobody knows what the outcome of this situation is going to bring for us. We don’t want any players not to be able to fulfill their goals and aspirations in our program here. We don’t want that for any of our players. Jalen’s dad has always been very, very positive and supportive in every conversation that I have. So I’m not really concerned about what somebody else chose to write, because I’m going to sort of always use the personal communication that I have with our player, Jalen, and his family when necessary. I have a lot of trust and respect for those folks. I don’t think there’s an issue or problem from my standpoint.”
Miller Forristall and Josh Jacobs available on Saturday for A-Day?
“Miller Forristall has been doing the scrimmages in a black jersey which means that we don’t tackle him and we try to limit the contact and maybe, to some degree, the plays that we run when he’s in the game. And if we can manage him through and he feels well enough and the medical staff thinks he’s well enough to go out there and do the same thing in the A-Day game, he will. Josh Jacobs, yeah he did do drills. He has done some drills. He is starting back. He is able to run straight ahead pretty well. Did do some ball handling and cutting drills today for the first time. To me, it would be counterproductive relative to the workload that he’s had to this point to put him in a competitive situation at this time. We don’t have any expectation of him being in the game.”
Do you think the offense has been able to make as much progress as it would have if Tua got a full compliment of reps?
“I think Tua is the guy that because he wasn’t able to fully participate… He did a nice job when he was able to play. So no one is disappointed in any way. I don’t think the rest of the players… I think Mac made a lot more progress because he got a lot more reps. I don’t think it impairs the progress of any other player who’s focused on what they’re supposed to do. The right tackle has to block the guy, take the right steps, get movement, do pass pro, anchor, use good technique and hand placement regardless of who the quarterback is. So that has no effect on anyone else on the team in my opinion. It’s unfortunate that Tua was not able to get as many reps that might have enhanced his knowledge and experience, but he did do a very good job when he was able to practice.”
You made the top 12 list of world leaders by Forbes. Your thoughts on that?
“I think it’s quite an honor that somebody would recognize you in any way, shape or form. There are a lot of great leaders in the world. There are a lot of great people who have a significant impact on the future of a lot of other people. I feel very fortunate that we’ve had a great organization here and a lot of great people in the organization who have all provided a lot of leadership. The No. 1 goal for us is to try to provide leadership that’s going to help our players have a better chance to be successful in life, whether it’s their personal development, developing a career off the field by graduating from school. Whether it’s trying to develop a career as a football player. I think that all starts with setting a good example and being somebody that somebody wants to emulate, but also caring enough about somebody else to do things to help them for their benefit. That’s something that we’ve certainly tried to do not only with our team but in the community. It’s a great honor. I think a lot of people contributed to that. People in this organization, Miss Terry, a lot of partnerships that we have all contribute to us being able to provide that kind of leadership that can help other people. We’re going to continue to be very dedicated to trying to do that in the future as well.”
In your time in the NFL, how much of a concern was it for you if a prospect had interests outside of football or football wasn’t the most important thing in their like?
“That’s kind of a hard, general statement to make. I don’t think a guy has to have his whole life commitment to be a football player to be a great football player. I think it takes balance in everyone’s life. I was around some really, really good players that had other interests that were important to them, but that made them no less competitive when it came to how they went about trying to be a great football player, how they competed in games, how important it was to try to win, and how they prepared to play. I don’t think it’s healthy for someone to be a football player 24/7. You should be worried about being a good parent. You should worry about helping other people. It’s perfectly normal to have other interests. There are some really good baseball players that they tell me play golf every day before the game. So does that mean they’re less of a baseball player? For me, it was about the person’s competitive character and not necessarily totally about their other interests. If football is not important to someone, that would be a concern. But just because something else is important doesn’t mean that football is not important.”