All-Access Video: Zook working the Illini off-campus
Illinois has created their version of Hard Knocks to give the Illini fans an inside look into training camp.
After three practices on campus in Champaign, Ron Zook has taken his team off campus to Rantoul, about 15 miles from the Illinois campus.
The Zooker apparently loves it.
Offensive lineman Jack Cornell said, “It’s kind of amazing how much energy he (Zook) can have at every point in the day. Doesn’t matter whether it’s 5 o’clock in the morning, 11 at night, or 3 in the afternoon. He’s always going 100 mph.”
Cornell added, “I think it’s good for everyone to see how hard he’s working is how hard we need to work.”
Illinois opens the season by hosting Arkansas State. It will be the Red Wolves first game under new head coach Hugh Freeze who tweeted this morning, “So glad I live and coach in a country where we can play music and worship the one true God during our Practice. #PraiseGod."
If it comes down to a Hail Mary, advantage Red Wolves.
Here’s your Hard Knocks, Illini style.
Coaches requiring their teams to know the fight song
Skip Holtz, Jerry Kill, and James Franklin all want to make sure their players know the words to the school fight song.
As he did a year ago, Holtz will once again ask his team to sing the USF fight song during an evening team meeting during training camp in Vero Beach.
It’s all about creating a sense of pride and paying respect to the tradition of the program.
Franklin recently brought in the Vanderbilt band director to a team meeting to teach the players the fight song.
Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill took it a step further. Kill brought his team to midfield with the band to practice signing the fight song. (Check out the 4:15 mark in the video)
Kill believes, “This is what college football is all about.”
Dooley turns to William Shakespeare to help Vols
Derek Dooley is looking for results, so he turned to old English poet William Shakespeare, who died in 1616.
Dooley told reporters today that he recently referenced Shakespeare’s “Richard III” in a team meeting.
He explained, “For want of a horseshoe nail: one little horseshoe nail can bring down a whole kingdom. That's what it did back in the 1400s. Just like stepping with your right foot six inches could cause a guy to get on the edge, which causes the quarterback to get a little flustered, the exchange goes bad, fumble, turnover, touchdown.”
"Every little detail of your technique and assignment can impact the game. We've got a long way to go."
Asked how the team responded to the verse, Dooley said, “They were very engaged.”
Boy, can’t you see it right now? Janzen Jackson engaged in verses from a play written in 1591.
Here’s the video of Dooley explaining what he’s looking for.
1 on 1 drills: Listening & learning vs. Hootin & hollering
Les Miles took the Tigers through “Big Cat Drill” this morning in Baton Rouge.
The one thing that stood out to us was those not involved in the drill were just watching and listening. There wasn’t much rah rah, hootin and hollering. It must be designed for that…more of a watch, listen, and learn.
57 miles west of Baton Rouge, UL-Lafayette head coach Mark Hudspeth led the Ragin Cajuns through the same drill. Let’s just say the atmosphere was a little different.
There’s two ways to skin a cat. Which one do you like?
By the way, did you see where Les and the Tigers coaching staff hung out after practice? This is pretty awesome.
Radio guys embarrass themselves during interview with Kevin Wilson
Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson appeared this morning on 1260 AM in Indianapolis with Zakk & Jack.
“Jack” is Jack Trudeau, the former Illinois and Indianapolis Colts quarterback. Zakk is some guy who spells his name “Zakk.” Really?
Let’s just say the interview didn’t go too well and quite frankly, we understand why.
After being on hold for an usually extended roll-in to the segment that featured the Indiana fight song, Wilson went off on Zakk & Jack.
Just imagine a radio host keeping Nick Saban on hold 3 minutes, then running Alabama's fight song nearly in its entirety, then talking amongst themselves for a few minutes, then joking about Saban’s team? (Boy, I bet that would go over well. Can you say, "Pink Slips?")
As any head coach inheriting a struggling program like the one Wilson has taken over, there comes a point when you get tired of hearing about all the negatives, no tradition, small crowds, lack of players, and lack of winning.
If you didn’t think you could change that, then you wouldn’t accept the challenge.
After the roll-in featuring the Indiana fight song, Jack joked with Indiana opening up in Lucas Oil Stadium against Ball State, Wilson is getting his guys use to playing at Lucas Oil for when they play in the Big Ten Championship game.
Zakk & Jack: Coach, how you are?
Wilson: Not doing as good as you guys. You guys got a bunch of jokes this morning. What’s happening?
Zakk & Jack: You sound like you’ve been doing some screaming at practice, are we yelling at the players already?
Wilson: No, we’re yelling at media guys that don’t have a clue.
Zakk & Jack: You’re not referring to us, are you?
Wilson: No, I’m referring to that fight song. I remember putting 61 on the Illini a few years back too when I was at Northwestern and they (Northwestern) kinda stunk as the time, too. Anyway, I’ve got some things to do, what do you guys need?
Zakk & Jack: Oh, you’re already ready to get rid of us?
Wilson: Very much so. So what’s happening? I don’t have time to listen to guys to talk about fight songs and Indiana and no tradition.
Later on, after some hairy exchanges, Wilson made the point, “It’s not like climbing Mount Everest. I just don’t like guys cracking jokes about our program.”
The truth of the matter is that it’s a privilege for the two jackleg radio guys to get to interview a head coach like Wilson. Let’s be honest, Wilson didn’t have to take time out of one the busiest days of the year, during August camp, to do this interview. Then you ease into the interview with the fight song and an untimely joke.
Why would any coach in the country ever go on this radio show again?
Minnesota DC Tracy Claeys: It's all about accepting roles
In twenty-three days, Minnesota defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys will be calling plays against Lane Kiffin. The Gophers open the season in The Coliseum against USC.
Between now and then, Claeys knows there is a lot of work to be done.
Claeys told the Big Ten Network, “It’s all about accepting roles. It really is. Every time we have taken over, there has been a sense of entitlement by some better players and people don’t fit in the puzzle where they’re supposed to fit and try to make too many plays.”
“If you can convince those kids that they are important and if they do their roles then we’ll be successful then you got a chance.As a coaching staff, you have to be willing to not play them. If they don’t do their job, no matter how good they are. The greatest motivator in the season is playing time.”
Claeys admits he’d like to play well in the first four games, which are all non-conference games, but the focus is on being ready for Big Ten play.
“We want to be ready for the Big Ten season. As long as we’re defining roles in those first four games, that’s what you are playing for. If we can go into the Big Ten games with roles defined and our kids playing hard, we’ll be alright.”
Another challenge for the Gophers’ defensive staff will be adjusting to style of play in the Big Ten. Three of the coaches on the Minnesota staff were with Jerry Kill at Northern Illinois the past several years.
Claeys said, “We came from the MAC, where most people ran the spread. We’re (now) going to have to go five games with people slamming it right at us. That’s something we haven’t had to deal with lately. It’s physical downhill football.”
Before Big Ten play begins, something tells us the Gophers may see power, iso, and an abundance of inside run against the Trojans.These guys will need to be ready.
Al Borges: I’ll never say ‘never,’ but it’s never been my preference
Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges is looking for “that guy” to run the rock.
There are currently a handful of running backs trying to win the starting job because Borges doesn’t want to rotate backs.
Borges said, “I don’t like rotating guys. Never have. But that being said, if two guys are on an equal plane, then we may do it. I’ll never say, ‘never,’ but it’s never been my preference.”
What are you looking for?
Borges said, “The ability to win in the open field, break tackles, make people miss, understand our protection scheme, and receiving skills are a part of it, too. It not at the top of the list, but it’s part of it. Just a guy we feel like we can go to that gives us some of same things Denard gave ‘em last year and will give us this year.”
“We’ve made it clear to them, Fred, Brady, and myself, that we’re looking for “the guy.” They got to seize the moment when they get that opportunity. They know that.”
Borges also made it clear that he is not sure just how many times per game that Denard Robinson will carry the ball.
"I'm not committing to anything because then all of sudden I'll say this many and you'll say, 'Well, you said...'"
"We've already said it's going to be less. We've already made that clear. It's going to be less, but let me tell you something. As a player caller, you go into a game with a plan, then all of a sudden, things change. And they can't stop him. Now, I was born at night, but I wasn't born last night. Call his number. Give him a chance, but try not to beat him up. So where is that delicate balance? Where is that fine line? I'm not sure, so I'm not committing to how many times he's going to carry the ball because I'm not sure how things are going to go in the course of a football game. And I'm not exactly sure how everyone is going to defend him."
Borges reminded the audience that every time Denard Robinson gets hit or tackled, it affects the passing game as well. Try throwing the ball after being tackled 18 times. You're not the same.
UL-Lafayette unveils slick new uniforms
UL-Lafayette has unveiled slick new uniforms that first-year head coach Mark Hudsepth believes can only help with recruiting.
You can see the Ragin Cajuns have a brand new pair of black pants. (We wonder if there is black top that isn't being shown.)
Hudspeth said, “Russell representatives came and met with us at our facility to design a product that was classy, traditional and a little bit cutting edge. I think it is something that is really going to look good not only for our fans and University, but the players and recruits.”
“Anything we can do to encourage recruits to come to UL…I am a fan of. I like them because they give us a lot options depending on what the theme may be for that week.”
On the field, the Ragin Cajuns are a week into camp and Hudspeth says the offense is working to form an identity.
He explained, “We are trying to establish a tough identity. We are not going to throw the ball 70 times a game. We want to establish the run. We are a spread team, therefore we will throw as well, but we want to focus on winning the game at the line of scrimmage.”
“I feel like we have developed depth at the offensive line position. We have improved our starting five there. We want to be a physical team that teams do not want to play.”
Here’s a look at the new uniforms.