football Edit

Takeaways: Eric Morris and Zac Spavital talk recent team developments...

Assistant coaches Eric Morris and Zac Spavital were made available to the media today. Their thoughts below on these last few practices, who has been standing out, and what do they want to see from their units in the future.

ERIC MORRIS

…How’d practice go?

“I thought the defense got after us real good on Tuesday, and I thought the first half of today was a little sloppy. We challenged them about halfway through and I though they really responded well for the first time. Our team periods and all of our competition periods were as good as they have ever been. These kids fight against each other, and we are keeping count of everything, turnovers and everything to get the competition level up. They got after it today, real physical.”

…How are things going with the offensive line and being with coach Jones

“Pretty good. We put a lot on them in 3 or 5 practices. That’s how we like to install, put a lot on them. In time they will get better and better. We have three freshmen in the two-deep, a junior college kid, and a kid that has never played, so we have five kids on the line that haven’t played a lot around here. They are making mistakes, but they are working hard and getting extra work in. I think coach Jones has done a great job. I think the future is bright with Jack and Dawson and Will. They all have a chance to be really good, they just need to grow up in a hurry.”

…Who has been the most consistent of the offensive linemen?

“I’ve been really pleased with our two tackles. Travis Bruffy has done an exceptional job. You don’t talk about him a lot during film and for an offensive lineman, that’s a good thing. Steele continues to get better and better. He has the best body type of anyone we’ve had out here, including Le’Raven (Clark). Both of the tackles have been good, but where we really need help is inside. Jack Anderson is getting a lot of reps with the ones right now, and we are kind of shuffling things around on the other side of it. Paul Stawarz had moved to center and Jacob Hines, a JUCO transfer is playing the left guard. I’m pleased with them but we have a ways to go, we just need to be more physical on the inside right now.”

…How did the move come about having Stawarz at center?

“It was kind of a fluke deal because we had a center go down in practice (last fall), so we were scrambling asking guys who could snap the ball and Paul raised his hand in the back, so we put him in there at center with the twos. He snapped it really good and that’s the most important thing. He is a smart guy, and he knows the calls. We didn’t want to throw him out there in the fire midseason last year, but this offseason we told him that he needs to focus on that and be the leader of that and get us targeted. We weren’t targeted good enough in the run game last year, and the center does all the targets for us and Paul has done a very good job of that at the center position.”

…Tony Morales?

“Tony is still battling for a job right now. No question he has a lot of game experience, so we have rolled him in with the ones at times, with the twos at times, and even with the threes at times. Tony has a lot to prove, and he knows that and he is working hard to do it.”

…How are Xavier and McLane looking?

“I think pretty good. We put so much on the QB and Kingsbury does a great job with them. I thought today was by far McLane’s best day. Xavier coming in should be in high school, he should have prom next week and instead he is practicing at The Star. He has done a good job. The tempo we like to go, it is hard for them to process all the information being thrown at them. Today was by far McLane’s best day.”

…Who have been some standouts at receiver?

“I think Keke and Dylan have caught the most balls right now. They look really explosive and have done a lot of great things. Tony Brown has gotten back into the rotation and has looked really good over the past two days. We are really excited about his big body at Y. He is a 200-pound guy who can block those linebackers for us, and I was very pleased with what I saw from him today.”

…Is Derrick Wilies improving and looking better?

“Yeah 100 percent. Over the course of time, it’s pretty accurate, but it takes JUCO guys about a year to come in and get acclimated and make a big difference. With the 20 or so guys I’ve had and recruited out of junior college, there is a huge jump between year two and year one. He knows what we expect from him, he has had a huge offseason. He hasn’t been nicked up or anything. He’s getting a ton of reps and has looked really salty.”

….What is the QB order and the snaps given to each?

“Coach changes it every day. Nic is clear cut getting all the one reps right now. McLane, Xavier, and Payne Sullins are splitting the twos right now. We just go ones and twos, we don’t really put threes in. They are kind of just splitting the reps. He (Kingsbury) changes them every day. McLane may get the majority of the twos one day, then the next day Xavier, and then the next day Payne and so on and so forth. I think after this first scrimmage, we would like to start wittling that down and pushing some reps one way for someone to be the backup.”

…With guys like Cam Batson and Jonathan Giles at H, how are reps being split?

“It’s tough. It’s really tough. They are splitting them 50/50 right now. Two really good players. Two really tough guys – well, I shouldn’t say that because I complain about Giles not being tough – Giles has been extremely tough this spring. Competition is a great thing in any sport that you play. Cam knows that he is sitting right there behind him, and he has made a lot of plays and vice versa. I have been pleasantly pleased with how Giles has stood up and responded.”

…Thoughts on Bruffy?

“He is big, long, smart, and he loves football. Those are four attributes that are just awesome in an offensive lineman. He came at 262 pounds and is about 302 pounds now. That’s been the huge thing. He has been able to sit down and bull rush at his weight. He is a tough kid that really enjoys playing football.”

…How are the RBs looking?

“Good. Coach Juluke has done a great job. Again, competition. We have really been splitting them. All three of those guys are going with the ones and going with the twos. We want to give them all a fair shot to see who the guy is. Justin Stockton had two touchdown runs today, and we saw his speed again and we are really excited about that. He is coming back to who he was in the open field two years ago.”

…What is the recruiting impact of having a spring game at The Star?

“Yeah, it’s huge. It’s a four and half hour drive from Dallas to here, and it is a 20 minute drive from anywhere in Dallas to Frisco. It is a great opportunity for their families to take them up there and see some live action from us. It is a great opportunity to get on the road and show our brand.”

ZAC SPAVITAL

…Thoughts on the young linebackers?

“With Brooks out, D’Vonta and Stringer are still getting a ton of reps. It has been really huge for guys like Christian Taylor and Jamile Johnson. They have made huge strides from practice one to practice six. Christian Taylor has got a unique skillset, he’s not the biggest – he has lot a little bit of weight coming back from that safety body – but he is still around 215-220. We put him in so many different situations, coming up or even going out and covering. He can go out and do some things in space with the wideouts. We are pretty excited about what he is doing and the reps they are getting is awesome for those guys.”

…Tony Jones?

“One thing you never really anticipate with guys that are new and especially junior college kids is that they have to get used to the speed of the game and the effort you have to play with, that is not an issue with him. He will run to the football, he knows how to tackle the ball, he knows where it is at. Really right now we are grinding through the little parts, just changing coverages and just running fits and that was expected. The best thing is that he is not making the same mistakes twice, and he keeps improving. We are throwing a bunch at him, too. It’s not like we are treating him like a freshman. He is actually having to operate and function like the rest of the linebackers. And to the other guys credit with the reps and al the experience they are getting, they are able to help each and get things figured out which is a huge deal to Tony. I’ve been very happy and excited with what he is doing.”

…What’s it like for guys like Jamile and Christian making the transition from safety to linebacker?

“It is very hard. It is a different type of reaction, a different type of vision, there are guys in front of you quick. You are in close quarters. There are tackles coming at you. The truth is is that Jamile is really getting used to being in the box more and CT is doing a bit better. Jamile is a smart kid, and he is also a 235 pound kid right now, so he has gained a lot weight. He is kind of getting into his body as well. It’s a transition, but we are getting a bunch of good physical reps.”

…How is the defense looking as a whole?

“Actually pretty good. That’s one thing that’s different to me than the past two years is the maturity level. Just the work ethic of everybody. It is not self-centered, it’s a team thing. They are a lot of guys out there pushing each other. We haven’t held back on them. It’s not like we held back from them coming back from spring break, we actually installed stuff the Tuesday after spring break which is awesome to see and different from the last two years.”

…What do you want to see from the unit Saturday in Midland?

“I want us to get to the football and shed blocks better. We have showed that we are playing a bit more physical. I’m hoping that’s what happens, that’s the expectation. It’s not going to be perfect because that’s the first real environment they will be in. I just want them to be close on tackles, to be in space where they are supposed to be, seeing pulls and being able to tackle the guy with the ball.”

…D’Vonta Hinton and Brayden Stringer getting more reps.

“They’ve been great. I switched things up today, get different guys working out of their comfort zone with different people but those two have kind of held the torch the first two weeks. They are doing a good job. D’Vonta is playing MIKE and Stringer is playing WILL, but the best thing about D’Vonta right now is that he has played enough football positions so he can go in there and function at both. Still have long way to go but they have to keep improving. What happens on this practice field isn’t always what happens in Big 12 ball, so we have an understanding of where we have to be now.”

…What have you noticed from the D-linemen?

“The young d-linemen, I’m excited about. They are grinding and working hard. I like Big Mych and what he is doing. Of course Eli (Howard) and Kolin are staples. They are the leaders of those groups. What’s really awesome is those interior guys are really starting to pick up. Broderick, Big Mych, and even Big Joe Wallace are starting to get comfortable playing inside. It’s a big man’s game, so they are really starting to grow up. They are starting to find out that they are older than these young linemen and are starting to bully them a little bit. It’s good to see.”

…Since he can’t practice, what is Jordyn Brooks doing now?

“Right now it is just rehab, he is starting to get into his conditioning. He won’t be released to run for a couple more weeks now. He is able to do the stairclimber and things like that. What we are trying to do is get some conditioning and bridge the gap for the summer. The good thing is that he is also able to go out and do a virtual reality walk through. He is able to see the pulls with the line. He is able to get some reps there and get some visual stuff that is new to our defense and that’s exciting to see. He is able to get some mental work.”