“Sort of off the subject, but on the subject, as I said earlier today in my earlier conference call, our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by Hurricane Harvey. We’re thankful that our players’ families are safe and people aren’t in harm’s way even though some issues did with some of the families, which we won’t discuss here. We’re looking for ways as a department and personally to try and assist as best as we can in terms of all victims in southeast Texas.
“I think the players worked very well today in shells. We kind of have two Thursday practices before the first game. The intensity was good. Mentally we were better. I think the most important thing from here on out is the physical preparation, other than kind of a light practice tomorrow, so a lot of it is about mental practice. How much mental practice, mental preparation do you get whether it’s watching film, going over things with coaches, making sure you’re well-prepared to go do your job so that when you get there you’ll be able to go out there with confidence and do what you need to do to make the plays you need to make. This is a very good team so I think preparation is very important relative to their players and the system and scheme that they use. That’s always key, especially in the first game. The team that plays with the most discipline, toughness, makes the fewest mental errors, takes care of the ball, probably will have the best chance to be successful in the game.
“Raekwon Davis did do a little bit of stuff in practice today. He’s still day-to-day. It’s a medical decision as to when he will be able to come back and be able to play.”
What has allowed Jimbo’s offense to stand the test of time since you had him at LSU?
“I think it’s a very well conceived pro-style offense. I think he’s very good at making changes relative to his personnel. There are similarities with some of the things he did even back at LSU. But it’s sound, it’s good, it’s well-executed, it’s well-taught, and it works. The reason it works is they do a good job of executing it. They have a lot of things that they do differently now that are great additions to what they do and I think they do a great job with their players in terms of the system is good, and they do a really good job of teaching it and coaching it and the players do a good job of executing it.”
Josh Frazier has been around a while. How ready is he?
“I think Josh Frazier has had a good fall, had a good summer. He’s got his weight down. His play has certainly improved in consistency. He’s got a role in the two-deep. In some situations he’ll be a starter and the guy has done a really good job. It’ll be interesting to see how he responds when he goes out there and gets the opportunity to play against a good team.”
Josh Jacobs update?
“He hasn’t practiced yet, he’s still in rehab, still working to try and get the strength back in his hamstring. If he can’t practice tomorrow, he probably won’t be playing in the game.”
Have you decided what you’ll do at kick return and punt return?
“We have several guys that are very capable. Trevon Diggs did it last year pretty effectively. Henry Ruggs has done it pretty effectively. Xavian Marks has been back there before. That’s on punt return and some of those same players can do kick return. I feel good about the progress we’ve made in that area.”
How has Shaun Dion Hamilton’s progress been coming back from the injury? How much did that injury provide an opportunity for Rashaan?
“I think first of all, Shaun Dion has had a good fall camp. I think he’s confident in his situation relative to his injury. He’s played very well, he’s very instinctive. He knows our system very well. He’s always been a very dependable guy out there that you can count on doing what he’s supposed to do and doing it very well. I think when Rashaan got the opportunity to play in the last two or three games last season after the SEC championship game, I’m sure that made him a lot more game ready relative to having confidence and knowing what it takes to prepare to play well in the game. He played well for us when he had to play last year. I think he has a better understanding of what his role is and what he needs to do to be a leader on this defensive team this year.”
You have 10 or 11 freshmen on the two deep. What do you hope to see from them on this stage?
“Some guys will have a bigger role than others, obviously. But those a lot of guys have earned their way to where they are. I don’t know how they’ll respond. It takes a lot of maturity, I think, to be able to respond in these type of situations. When you have young players, it’s always interesting to see how they respond, however they do. These guys are good players that can help us. We need to help them grow and improve. This will give us a good idea of where they are and then we’ll know what we do to try to get them where they need to be. That’s kind of how we do it with all of our players but it’s especially important with young players, especially important with those that we feel can have a role and contribute to our team.”