Publisher's Note: Nico Naha contributed to this transcription. Lightly edited for clarity.
Justin [Fuente] mentioned that Furman does a little bit of the triple option. Did you kind of feel like you put the triple option behind you?
That would've been nice. You know, we knew it when that game was scheduled that they'd do a little bit of that. That's a part of their offense and they'll get into multiple looks with the same personnel, but that's a part of their offense. They'll run the spread bone or whatever you want to call it and the stuff that we've had some experience with, with Georgia Tech. They'll shift to it, they'll shift out of it and get into some ace-back stuff, some two-back formations. Besides go from two-back to the bone and those kinds of things like that. We've got to be ready, we've got to communicate, and then we've got to get ready to get after the line of scrimmage when it's all said and done. This is a really talented football team offensively, an experienced group. The quarterback's a redshirt freshman, but he's extremely talented. He has the speed of the guy last week at quarterback, but a much better quarterback as far as throwing the football. I think his decisions, what I've seen in the first two games anyway, and then he's played a little bit, he played some games last year and they redshirt him. But really an extremely talented guy, he's long, kind of reminds me of Hendon Hooker a little bit, not quite as big as far as physically, his thickness, but that kind of an athlete. You guys have seen Hendon when he's been in there and has the capabilities with the ball in his hand, but he's got a live arm like that too. But they got a dynamic tailback, well a couple guys, they got a couple good fullbacks then they got a couple really good receivers. Number 89 [DeJuan Bell], he could play anywhere in the country, he's just a really fast young man, a dynamic playmaker, and the quarterback has the ability to get him the ball. They got an experienced offensive line. I think three of their guys are, I think, preseason all conference guys. So it's a group that I have a lot of respect for. They're well coached and we're going to have to be prepared for a lot of things, not just for the bone, the spread bone whatever you want to call it, and then just their multiple formations and then their passing game off all that stuff.
Coach just give me your thoughts and feelings, one of your guys Brandon Flowers going into the Virginia Tech sports hall of fame, obviously another one of your great guys that played on your lunch pail defense.
I'll tell you what, I got a chance to see Brandon and I hate I couldn't go to the event. Hopefully I'll get a chance to go to some of those here in the near future. I'm extremely proud of Brandon. You know, his body of work when he was here and how he took that to the next level made him who he was. I mean he came to work every day. And was he the fastest guy that I had ever? No, but maybe one of the most complete football players, maybe one of the better football players period at any position that we had here. Just very coachable, very technique and fundamentally sound, very physical, tremendous football IQ, and on top of that an outstanding young man at the time and turned into being, what a great NFL career. But what a great young man. Just really, really proud of him. It makes, as a coach now being here as long as I've been starting to see a lot of our guys that we had the opportunity to coach. We had a lot of good years here, but a lot of dynamic football players and Brandon was one of many. I'm hoping there's going to be several more that's going to be able to join him, but really excited for him.
I don't know if actually would say that, but you've got to consider Virginia Tech and your program DBU because just the success. I mean you probably won't come out and say that, but I mean you got to look at the numbers that your teams have put up. They got to be DBU.
We stake claim to that a little, but I think there's a couple other universities. I think LSU, Florida and us are probably the three, and maybe Ohio State in that mix too. But we've had a great tradition and we've done some really dynamic things on the back-end and really produced some dynamic players. That goes back to them. I mean obviously we have a great skill, we develop and have a culture that's a work ethic second-to-none that prepares them for the next level. I think what we've done over the years is something very multiple on the back-end. The NFL guys like our guys because of the skill set they have, but also their workman like approach and their football IQ. So that's something we're really proud of and I'll stand on the table to defend that claim.
Didn't rotate linebackers much against ODU, how do you think Rayshard [Ashby] and Dax [Hollifield] played and why'd you not rotate as much?
Yeah, I didn't, and I told Keshon [Artis] and I told Tizzy [Alan Tisdale] that was on my bad. We only played 24 snaps in the first half. Linebacker is a position almost like tailback, you kind of get in the flow of the game, you get a feel of the blocking schemes, those types of things what they're doing. Next thing you know it's going to be mid-way through the third quarter before those guys, and I just didn't want to feel like they weren't, I'm sure they were ready to play, but you know what I'm saying it's just been, they sat a whole half and a series or two. That was just my concern, putting them in and making sure they were sharp and I needed to get them in earlier. But it kind of goes back to the number of plays we were playing early. Rayshard played very, very solid. You guys see he's a tackling machine. Dax, we've got to still clean up a couple little things, but he's all over the field. I like the energy that those guys bring, I like the effort those guys play with. We're developing some eraser ability, making them into some good tacklers. Rook's been playing on the other team's side of the line of scrimmage. We got to get some more play out of the backer spot being more productive as far as behind the line of scrimmage. Dax had some plays last year behind the line of scrimmage. Then part of it sometimes is the offense you see and what they're doing. But that was kind of situation of not playing those guys, but by the same token I'm pleased how that whole unit is working, in particular how those two guys have played so far.
Do you think Dax was kind of like a step off, especially in that first half?
Probably, probably. He missed a couple tackles that I thought he would normally make. But it also goes back to those guys. I thought the [Lala] Davis kid is a really good back. I think he's got great feet and vision in the hole, he can make a lot of guys miss. I think the [Kesean] Strong kid is a good back, and I'm telling you the three kids they have at tailback are like those two guys this week. I think that's one of their strengths of this team's offense is their running backs. They're averaging 292 a game right now in the first two games, but that position alone at tailback is averaging over 200 of that. It's a good unit for them, we've got to do a great job.
We saw a little bit of [Devon] Hunter back there spell Reggie [Floyd] for some extended stretches also now, you had a couple games of seeing him back in the secondary again, where do you sort of evaluate where he's at?
I mentioned before, Devon's done a tremendous job, he's working at it continuing to improve and get better. He's been really, really good on special teams for us. All those guys on our side of the ball because the majority of them are playing special teams and that's such a big, big role. The one thing Devon's done is he's embraced his role on the team right now, but he's also embraced getting better. And knowing he has an area of improvement and he is working that way which I'm really pleased with his approach and how he's working.
Norell Pollard, I'm just curious, you were high on him in the fall and he's played a lot. He almost had that loss on fourth-and-two, couldn't wrap the guy up. What have you seen from him and his development, is he close to kind of taking that next step, those freshman get a couple of games. Where do you think he's at?
Yea, Norell is really, he's a little bit like Dax Hollifield from the standpoint he's a contagious guy. He's got a lot of energy, very vocal guy, very enthusiastic. Him and Mario [Kendricks] both have played quite a bit, now they've played two college games, and they weren't here for spring practice. Their little things we got to work on and continue to improve on like their first step, or hand placement, or still I would say their mind's still tying up their feet a little bit, but at the same time I really like Norell, who he is. I like this young group in general, throw Josh Fuga in that mix, those three kids, defensive tackles are going to be really good players for us I believe. We're playing with two right now with the young kids with Norell and Mario. They just got to continue to work everyday and understand the work ethic it takes at this level to be consistently good. They can take a false step in high school and run around a block or dominate a guy where here that can't happen. That's where attention to detail and the little things right now, really the little things, the technique and the fundamentals being consistently good at that is where we got to continue to kind of sharpen the tools in our toolbox so to speak. I see those guys wanting to please and doing their best. That's where I'm pleased with him, but we're still a work in progress. There's so much potential in there that we haven't even reached yet, or come close to scratching. So I'm excited about how they're working and where we're going.
You haven't played [Jaden] Cunningham yet.
No, Jaden has a foot issue. He's got a plantar fasciitis or whatever. He's been in a boot and finally just got out of the boot. I'll tell you though I did like Jaden, he's a hard spot in there. He was a guy that early on, I like him too, he's a guy that we'll see where it goes. If he can get back play, if not he's got a year in the weight room and can condition. He didn't come in, in great shape coming from junior college and getting eligible, but I like his potential, I like him as a person, I like his strength in there and his size. He had a pretty good understanding particularly early before he got hurt.
Fuga just behind those other two guys?
Yea right now he is just a little bit and that's part of it. It's hard, number one I'm pleased that a couple freshman can come in and play, I wish we didn't have to play them, but at the same token those are guys that can do it. I think Josh physically at the point of attack would be okay. He's still a guy that his mind is probably tying up his feet a little more than those other two and probably not playing quite as fast even though he has similar abilities, that's just part of it.