RENO, Nev. - With a full week of preseason camp in the books, second-year head coach Brian Polian provided a report on the team's progress.
Overall impressions from the first week. We are pleased overall with the first week of practice. The tempo has been very good, there has been a lot of good competition, and we are seeing some younger players making significant strides in a short time. We have dealt with some adversity with erratic weather affecting our schedule, but the players and staff have done a great job of adjusting.
Has anything struck you about the overall physical condition of the team? We are certainly a stronger team than we were a year ago and the NCAA rules changes allowing the players 8 hours a week in the summer time with strength staff have benefitted our team. I was very impressed with the shape that we reported in.
The team used 18 freshman in 2013. What are some of the differences you've seen in some of those players? For all the young players that saw game action last year, we are seeing the maturation that resulted from that game experience. The game is slowing down for them and the conceptual understanding is much better. They are seeing the game through a wider lens.
You said you were interested to see how the wide receivers group shakes out during camp. What have you seen from that group in week one? The wide receiver battle has been fun to watch and has had some surprises. Jerico Richardson has had his best week since joining this program and he has put himself in position to start alongside Richy Turner and Hasaan Henderson. Brayden Sanchez has been very consistent and physically tough. Jimbo Davis has made a move of late and freshmen Wyatt Demps and Andrew Celis have lived up to expectations. Spots five through eight are still very much in question headed into week two.
What have you seen from the offensive line and tight ends? The O-line has dealt with some minor injuries but is doing well. Jake Henry has been a nice surprise after moving back to OL. Austin Corbett has been solid, as has Kyle Roberts. Depth is a concern right now, but as we get guys back healthy, that should resolve itself. Jared Gipson has practiced well and Matt Moen and Patrick Clifford are battling for significant playing time as well.
What do you notice about first-year defensive coordinator Scott Boone's presence on the that side of the ball so far?
Coach Boone has been very good thus far and I believe that we will see significant improvement on defense. He has been a great teacher and his demeanor has been demanding, yet very positive at the same time.