Q&A with Mack Part 2

About the importance of Spring Practice for their new receivers, especially with the loss of all of the starting WRs who were excellent teachers too, Ron Lee said:
“Spring is crucial. In the past four or five years with June, the philosophy during the spring was, ‘get the backups ready.’ It’s different this year. We lost everybody, we’re looking for some players. Last year (the starting receivers) were coaches. Now, it’s different. Absolutely no such luxury. You lose the caliber that we’ve lost, I mean, those five (the four receivers and quarterback Colt Brennan) will probably play in the NFL. You don’t see that very often. Michael Washington, Aaron Bain, John Medeiros, Greg Salas, Malcolm Lane — they have tremendous shoes to fill.” (HSB)

About entering Spring Practice as the #1 QB, Inoke said:
“It’s definitely a new experience for me coming in as number one. I just want to let (everybody) know that I can lead them. Especially at the quarterback position. It’s the position that the rest of the offense and team look to as leader, whether they are trying to be a leader or not.” (HSB)

About how Ron Lee’s offense will differ from JJ’s offense, Tyler said:
“I don’t really have a good feel for it yet, but I’ve been running Coach Jones’ offense and I’ve seen people put their own twists on this offense throughout my whole career and it’s going to be interesting to see what Coach Lee wants to do with it.” (HSB)

Asked what is the key to getting the offense going after losing so many starters, Mack said:
“We’re definitely in a rebuilding mode on offense. Number one, I believe in (offensive coordinator) Ron Lee. He’s going to call the plays here. When we were together before (at Oregon Tech), I actually called the plays on offense. I believe in him so much I want him to have that opportunity. There’s three guys in the country, the world, who know the run-and-shoot best. Mouse Davis, June Jones and Ron Lee.” (HSB)

Asked what his role will be with the offense, Mack said:
“I’m going to let the coaches coach, but I’m not going to just stand around. Things that I see, I’ll point them out. I’m going to coach the same way I have on defense.” (HSB)

Asked if the OL can bounce back from their bad game vs. Georgia, Mack said:
“I think our offensive line is going to be a strength for us with three starters back, including (center) John Estes. We’re going to try to get 10 or 11 guys ready to play at Florida. I think we have the depth there and I really believe in our offensive line coaches.” (HSB)

Asked who are some of the players on offense he thinks will surprise the fans, Mack said:
“A guy who’s really been working hard this offseason is (quarterback) Inoke Funaki. He’s really improved himself. Another guy people are going to be impressed with is (receiver) Greg Salas. He’s really taken himself to the next level. He’s matured, and grown physically, picking up speed and strength.” (HSB)

Asked if the personnel they have coming back dictates more running in their offense, Mack said:
“We lost so many star players from last year that we’re going to go back to basics. We’re going to have a quarterback who’s still in the gun, but will be under the center some of the time. We think that will help our running game. We’ll be able to bootleg, we’ll be able to play-action. We don’t want to put all the pressure on the quarterback. We had a great quarterback the past couple of years. What people are doing (on defense) is widening out the ends and just coming up field. So we want to be able to run the stretch play, misdirection. Not have everything be on the quarterback.

Quite honestly, we want to win early on defense. Everywhere I’ve ever been, it’s been win early on defense. For the offense, we have spring, summer and our early games to get better. Offensively we feel we have some talent, and we’ll have some complementary talent coming in with the recruits. I have the utmost confidence, but all offenses have to get their timing and learn to work together.

We’re going to have a well-rounded offense. We’re going to emphasize not giving up turnovers and getting turnovers. We’re going to emphasize moving the chains, field position. That’s really an important thing to us.” (HSB)

Asked if declaring the QB race wide-open keeps the guys on their toes, Mack said:
“I think so. The best thing about competition is it makes you better. That’s one reason we got better on defense, because we played 20 players. I want to do the same thing on offense. We want to go into Florida with 10 or 11 offensive linemen, two deep at receiver. We’ll settle on a quarterback by then. We have got to have good depth.

As far as the quarterback position, it will be very competitive. Tyler did some great things when he came in last year. Inoke’s an incredible talent and a great leader. We’re going to get a good evaluation on all the quarterbacks we have here in the spring, and in the early fall we’ll evaluate the JC quarterbacks, give them some shots. It’s going to be competition right down to a couple of weeks before our first game. We’ll make a decision at a certain point, but I think the competition’s going to make everybody better.” (HSB)

Asked if the other side of that is developing a clear leader as soon as possible, Mack said:
“As soon as a guy separates himself from the pack, we’re ready to go. But I do want to look at those junior college players. I told the guys here that up front. We do have to make a choice a couple weeks before the game. Because that guy has to run the team, get the reps. We’re not going to be a two-quarterback system.” (HSB)

Asked how he sees his relationship developing with the player they select as starting QB, and if it will be anything like JJ’s relationship with Colt, Mack said:
“My goal is to have a good relationship with every player on the team. Whether a guy’s a walk-on guy, a scholarship guy, first string, last string, offense, defense, it doesn’t matter. I’m not going to become buddies with them. It’s a business to me, but it’s a business where you care about your players. We’re going to have a good relationship with the quarterbacks. What I’m saying is, to me, it’s having a good relationship with everybody. Not just the star players. I want to meet with every player after spring practice one-to-one and talk with them about how they can get better, talk to them about their plusses and minuses.” (HSB)

Asked what is the biggest difference for him in coaching college players and pro players, Mack said:
“You can have so much more of an influence on your players in college. In the pros, you get to coach the best players in the world, but you don’t have as much personal influence. They’ve got agents, they’ve got their accountants. So you’re really looking at just the football. Over here, one of our goals is to graduate the players. So you can influence them in many ways. That’s why I like college better than the pros.” (HSB)

Asked if the Lee brothers will draft their own teams for the spring game, Mack said:
“We’ll have them be the head coaches, let them have the pressure. I think I’ll split up the other coaches so they each have some offense and some defense. Then we’ll draft teams. I think I’m going to have the players do that. Maybe have a couple of captains on each side. Maybe have the coaching staff draft. I haven’t made up my mind yet.” (HSB)

When it was noted that he took his first day off (on Easter) since becoming head coach, Mack was asked when he gets to take a real breather and he replied:
“It’s been a blast, really a lot of fun and I’ve gotten to meet a lot of people. The president of the university (David McClain) and the chancellor (Virginia Hinshaw) have been extremely helpful, and having Jim Donovan as the new athletic director, I think that’s outstanding for us. He’s going to be great to work with. Things have been going pretty fast. So after spring recruiting I’ll have a chance to get away a little bit.” (HSB)

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