football Edit

Narduzzi on the linebackers and more

Pat Narduzzi talked about linebackers and more after Thursday’s practice. Here’s a full rundown of what he said.

Narduzzi: Good practice again today. We haven’t had, really, a bad practice. The kids’ attitude is great, the energy is good. We finished with a two-minute today that was solid. Just lots of energy and just continuing to work on the details. It’s amazing: we come out here every day and just work on stuff, but there’s more details and more details, so we’re still a work-in-progress.

What’s this ‘Air Narduzzi’ offense I’ve been hearing so much about?
Narduzzi:
Don’t believe ‘Air Narduzzi’ offense. I mean, we’re gonna run the ball; don’t forget that. They think when you complete a couple passes, it’s ‘Air Narduzzi.’ But I guess they’re not used to catching many passes or completing them.

We talked to Will Gragg earlier and he said that you and him had a lot of conversations, maybe during the season and after the season when he produced less than he was hoping for. What did you see from him through the year last year and what are you expecting out of him this year?
Narduzzi:
I don’t remember a lot of conversations, but -

Some conversations.
Narduzzi:
Yeah, maybe some, I guess. But Will’s an athletic guy that can catch the ball and can run down the field. He’s got to be a better blocker, really. That’s the conversations I remember having with him; it wasn’t about catching the ball or running routes. It was really about blocking. Because you’re either going to be a big receiver or you’re going to be a tight end. We don’t need a big receiver; we need a tight end. And he’s had a nice spring so far and he’s getting tougher in there blocking. He’s got to be able to block. If you’re going out there and they know you’re going to throw it, then you’re going to be in trouble.

We talked to Saleem today, too; a guy like him that’s been around so long and played different spots, what is his role on the defense right now?
Narduzzi:
It’s interesting that you asked that. You know, Saleem, I was ready to jump all over him the first few days. We moved Saleem back and forth from Mike - he’s played Mike a couple years ago and then we moved him to the Money position because we wanted him and Chase Pine to battle for that. He wasn’t playing great right there, so we moved him back to the Mike and he’s really taken off. It’s really his natural position. He’s just better, at least at this point. We still want to get him better at that boundary position because you never know, but right now, he’s competing for the starting Mike position. We played three guys a year ago and Elias is a really, really good football player as well, but Saleem is battling for that starting Mike position. I think he’s pretty good.

Phil Campbell’s working to the boundary a little bit as well to the field, which is amazing. I didn’t know if he’d be physical enough to do it, but not only is he physical, he’s tough and he knows how to leverage his body and play with leverage. So I’ve been happy with those guys.

Is Chase inside?
Narduzzi:
No, Chase is outside. Chase and Phil are battling out for that boundary and Saleem and Elias are battling for the middle spot there.

How much subpackage stuff do you do in the spring or is it mostly the base defense?
Narduzzi:
There’s a lot of sub. I think we put it in Day Four, so we’ll do quite a bit. We’ve got some new wrinkles on third down that we kind of got in the offseason, so we work a lot of it. Matter of fact, we had two nine-minute skelly’s today and one was all, really, subpackage today. We work quite a bit of it.

Thinking of the linebacker competition you just discussed, I guess the outlook’s pretty bright for Cam at the other side.
Narduzzi:
Cam looks good but Phil can go over there and play, too. It’s really coming down to, Phil got a lot of work to the field, then we’re just trying to get our three best on the field and Phil was playing so good it was like, ‘Hey, let’s put Camp and Phil in at the same time.’ So it wasn’t that Cam couldn’t physically do it; we just saw more out of Phil when he was in the box as opposed to out of the box. But Phil can play both. He’s really good at both. But Cam’s playing good. Really, just putting those two guys on the field at the same time is what we came out of last week’s scrimmage - but we have a long time to go and Chase Pine’s going to continue to work. He’s still a young guy mentally but he’s so much better than he was a year ago.

How do you feel like your offensive line has come together? And how important is it for you to have some guys separate themselves so you can start to build that continuity?
Narduzzi:
It is. I mentioned Carter Warren the other day, but I think the offensive line is playing well. I’ve been impressed with what they’ve done after 10 practices. The inside drill today - I’ve got to go back and watch the tape, but our offensive line ran the ball pretty well there, better than normal. So I’m impressed with what Coach Borbely and Coach Whipple have done with the run game and what they’re doing with those kids. It looks good so far.

Are you going to be on campus Sunday to catch the reveal and the T-Pain concert?
Narduzzi:
I will be there. Who?

T-Pain?
Narduzzi:
I don’t know anything about that. I don’t know anything about that. My kids will probably tell me about it. Is there a concert going on?

How important are things like that - the association with Nike, new uniforms - how useful can those things be when it comes to recruiting?
Narduzzi:
Well, I don’t think we had ugly uniforms in the past, and we have the best: Nike is the best. I don’t care what color your uniforms - your uniforms could be purple and black, it’s that we have Nike. There’s no other shoe - I’ve worn other shoes before, but there’s no other shoe that’s like Nike. There’s nothing like Nike. Now the branding and whatever we have new, I can’t wait to see it because I haven’t seen it - you know what I’m saying?

You haven’t seen it?
Narduzzi:
I don’t know. I say I haven’t. It’s just going to be interesting to see what comes up this weekend. I think it’s going to be neat. But Nike’s unbelievable. We’re great to have them as partners, that’s for sure.