Liberty football opened its spring practice schedule on Thursday morning in the first of 15 practices. It marked the first time head coach Jamey Chadwell and his staff were able to take to the practice field with their new team. Just minutes prior to the team hitting the practice field, Coach Chadwell met with the media to discuss his thoughts and plans for the team this spring. Here is everything he had to say, beginning with his opening statement:
“Thanks for being here, it’s awfully early. Nobody brought Chik-fil-A, I’m disappointed in that, you can bring the Lord’s chicken. We started January 16-17, so almost two months here from our staff being here from a development phase. I’ve seen a lot of progress with our team connecting and laying the foundation we want to have.”
“Start today with the first practice that we have. Really trying to lay out the objectives of this team, what we’re trying to accomplish, our identity in who we want to be in all three phases as far as how we play the game and why we play the game.”
“We’ve been implementing that through our offseason program now, today, once we practice how we do that starts implementing that. That’s the main thing we’re focused on now. Most of us being new, we’ve been told who we have, who’s good and who’s not good. We really don’t know. Seeing what we do have and what we have to work with, seeing where we probably need improvement and help. It’s a great time for us. I know the players are excited about it because they have been tired of just lifting and running and conditioning. They get a chance to get out there and get better.”
“Our whole focus this spring will be in identity, really developing our fundamentals, getting better there from a fundamental standpoint. See who we have and what they’re capable of and where we know we’re going to have to improve so we can see that with our own eyes and try to hopefully fix it after spring.”
IS TODAY THE MOST EXCITING DAY FOR YOU?
“We love being out there. To me, the most exciting time, I think, when you take over a program is the first time you start your morning runs or your conditioning because there’s a toughness that has to have in that. Everyone’s excited when you get to put the helmets on. I can get you guys to do that and you’re all out of shape, that was a joke, but it is an exciting day. I think when you first take over that most exciting is that first morning run or conditioning, however people call it. We call it the Flames Quarter program. Now, you are really trying to develop your team. Once we get the pads on, I’ll get more excited. This is glorified 7-on-7 which is great but the pads is when we get to see who we are, if we’re going to be a physical team or not. Tuesday after spring break will probably be when I’m really ready to go.”
WHERE ARE SOME OF THE BIGGEST POSITION BATTLES THIS SPRING
“I would say everywhere just because we’ve been told this guy is pretty good, this guy is not. I think every position is a battle to be able to see what we have. Specific needs, obviously we’ve got to get some depth at wide receiver, so we brought some guys in, how does that shake down. Linebackers is a big deal. We lost a lot of guys from a portal standpoint, we don’t have a lot of guys returning that played a lot. So, who really takes over there I think is going to be a big deal if you mention two specifically.”
HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO FILL YOUR LB COACH SPOT YET?
“I have somebody that we have locked in on. Hopefully there will be an announcement here in the next few days. We had interviews all last week. I got it finished Tuesday. We will get somebody hopefully on board here by the end of the day tomorrow. Working through some paperwork and those things. They obviously won’t be here for the first two practices, the plan is to have them here next week over spring break we can get them here and acclimated and then have them ready to go the next 13 practices.”
WHAT ARE YOU HOPING TO GET ACCOMPLISHED THIS SPRING?
“I think, one, you are trying to put in some of your schemes, your base stuff. You’re not going to put everything in, especially being brand new. We’re just trying to get down and master our base things. I think really you want to set the identity of who you are. Whether we only put in three plays or we put in 150 plays, we want to be a physical and mentally tough football team. You have to practice that. I want to put our team in as many adverse situations as possible to see who we are and how we’re going to respond. If we can find out how we’re going to respond now we won’t have to wait until fall to find out. Really want to develop those identities. Then, what you hope after 15 too is some of these position battles, quarterback, for example, somebody takes the reigns. It would be awesome if we could name a starting quarterback at the end of spring practice, that means somebody wants this job, they’ve mastered it. Then, you go forward with that. I don’t know if that will happen, I’m using that as an example, but I want to see if some guys can take the next step. We’ve been able to see guys do some different things. Who takes that next step, that to me is the two main things we’re trying to get done.”
WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO SEE OUT OF THE QUARTERBACKS THIS SPRING?
“There’s obviously some talent there. There’s obviously some inconsistency or we would have had a starter from last year back. How can we get, whoever it ends up being, how can they show consistency with what we’re doing? Secondly, we’ve got to have somebody that is underneath that center that this team wants to run through a wall for. If that’s the case, then you’ve got to be the guy who wants to be the leader, the guy that puts extra time in, that will do everything possible to put the best foot forward. That’s what we’re challenging our quarterbacks with. They have all talent, but it’s more there. It’s the character that goes with it, the work ethic and their desire to lead a bunch of men to something those guys don’t think they can accomplish. Who will take that role is the big deal right now. In our four weeks, or five weeks, you’ve seen some good progress from all of them as far as understanding the system. We will get that figured out, but those character traits, those leadership qualities that you really need to have, you need a guy that is competitive and tough out there that guys will rally around. That will hopefully show up these next 15 (practices).”
DE TRESHAUN CLARK ISN’T ON THE ROSTER…
“He’s not with us. He’s not with us. He’s taking classes to graduate but he’s not part of our program currently. That happened before I got here.”
HOW IS DAE DAE’S REHAB PROGRESSING?
“He seems to be doing well. He’s probably trying to do more than he should. Trying to keep him from getting out there is tough, he loves football. We’re told that he is where he needs to be, maybe a little bit ahead. He’s been involved in some of our walk-throughs and some of the things you are able to do in the spring and learning. He’s a very sharp individual from a football standpoint. I think he’s picking things up. We obviously have seen his video, we know how good he is. The health is going to be a big thing. Can he come back and be what he was? All the doctors and athletic trainers say that he’s heading in a good direction.”
DO YOU THINK SHEDRO IS LOCKED IN AT WR?
“This whole spring we’re going to try our best to make him receiver. Now, we use our receivers in different things, motion-wise, but very similar to how they used Pop a little bit. We will use him a little differently. He will get some running back things where we can use him as a running back, but his whole focus will be at the slot position.”
WHAT ARE YOU HOPING TO SEE OUT OF YOUR OLINE THIS SPRING?
“We’ve got some guys that are coming off some surgeries. There are a lot of guys that have played. For us, we’ve got to really solidify positions. We are going to be putting some guys at different positions that fit our scheme. Two, just really developing some depth there. We know the guys that have played that have the ability to be pretty good, but how many of those and what’s the best position for them. We have met with some of the positions right now leading up to practice and then do we have enough to put 10 out there, 8, 9, 10 that can contribute. That’s what we’re trying to determine.”
HAS ANYONE EMERGED ALREADY AS LEADERS?
“I’ve been very impressed with Quinton Reese on defense as far as just attitude. Throughout our offseason we had different conditioning days and five of those are our agility, quickness stuff. We graded our guys on those. For all five of those he was in our top group. He was the only one to do that five for five. Just the attitude that he comes with every day, he’s encouraging to his teammates, he cares about his teammates. He’s really stuck out defensively as far as just a guy that loves Liberty, loves the game of football, loves his teammates, he’s awesome.”
“Offensively, X, our offensive lineman. Does a fantastic job as far as just trying to be a leader. He was in Romeo and Juliet so that tells you he’s well rounded. He’s a guy that people will follow. He does things the right way. He cares. Those two guys have stood out to me.”