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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.


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Video: Dabo inspires Tigers during post-practice speech

We snuck into Clemson’s practice yesterday and filmed Dabo’s post-practice speech.  It was strange that nobody saw our guy just standing there with a camera.

Dabo told the team, “It’s a sprint.  It ain’t no marathon.  Don’t be pacing yourself.  It’s everything you got, every single day. You understand me?”

“You got twelve days.  That’s what you’re preparing for.  You don’t get ready on that day.  You get ready now.  You pay the price, now.  That’s why there’s nothing more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Everybody got that?  Because they are not willing to and not tough enough to pay the price.”

“So when one of them 12 shows up, you be ready.  So you make sure to you win.  That’s all you need to worry about, “Win, today.”  Everybody got that?  You gotta love the grind.  Appreciate the grind.”

Here’s the video:

Joker explains the big issue at Kentucky

It seemed as though Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips was a bit frustrated after practice on Thursday.

Joker told reporters, “I think we are doing the big things really, really well.  We have to understand that the little things is why we were 6-7.  I’m not sure if our guys really are getting the message.  Turnovers, penalties, transitioning from drill to drill.  The margin was really really small how close we were to being a team that won 8, 9, or even 10 games.”

“I think we are doing the big things really well.  We’re not doing the little things.  Picking up trash over here.  Those are little things that are the difference between winning and losing.  I pick up more trash than all the guys. That’s how I was brought up.”

“Little things, meaning bringing your feet when your tackling, staying up when your tackling…we have way too many guys on the ground.  When you leave your feet, you’re not playing with fundamentals.”

“Our guys are running to the ball from snap to whistle.  We play with some enthusiasm.  We are playing with attitude.  We got to play smarter.  We got to take the proper steps every time.”

The Wildcats open up the season against Western Kentucky.  The game will be played in Nashville, TN.

David Cutcliffe just being honest

Most everyone would agree that Cutcliffe has done a terrific job in his first three seasons at Duke.  He has certainly raised the level of the program, created excitement, stopped a revolving door of assistant coaches leaving the program, and raised attendance.  At one point, Duke even had a three-game winning streak in the ACC.

For a coach so use to winning in his career however, Cutcliffe wasn’t in the mood to sugar-coat much on Wednesday.  It didn’t take him long to get to the bottom line during a press conference.

Cutcliffe admitted, “I don’t care about the statistics.  I don’t care that we’re more athletic.  I’m happy for our players.  I’m happy for our staff.  All you have to do is go out there and watch us practice, it’s incredible the job people here have done, players and this coaching staff.”

He then added point blank, “What we have to do is figure out how to win games.”

Cutcliffe has spent countless hours in the off-season pinpointing the formula that will give Duke the best opportunity to legitimately win.  He is hopeful the defense will be better, but it may have to be the offense that takes things upon their shoulders.

“Offensively, we were okay to good at explosives (last year). We are a pretty good team throwing the football.  I think we can be better.  We are decent at driving the football.  The best way for us to produce 10 more points a game, and that’s a lot, I’m talking about average 10 more points per game, would be to create more explosives, big plays.  We have some people that can do that.”

Duke opens the season by hosting Richmond.  The rest of the non-conference schedule includes Stanford, Tulane, and at FIU.  The ACC home schedule includes FSU, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, and Georgia Tech.


Building a "team"

Coaches are always looking for the best way to build their team.  August camp has just started, but undoubtedly a few college coaches have already realized they have a special freshman class.

They can see the foundation of what lies ahead.

Former Tampa Bay all-pro defensive lineman Warren Sapp loves the way Raheem Morris is putting together his team.  Coming alive is unity, ownership, and unselfishness.

74 of 90 players  grinding through training camp are twenty-five years old or under.   Despite being $50 million under the salary cap a few weeks ago, the Bucs opted not to bring in some big name veteran players.

To Sapp, there’s something special to that.  He remembers when the Bucs built a championship organization with a core of young players that included Derrick Brooks, Ronde Barber, John Lynch, and Sapp.

Sapp said, “It was home grown Bucs that we won with.”

There’s something about, “We build together.  We grow together.  We grow old together.  I didn’t think about it until Raheem asked me, ‘How many outsiders you had in your defense?’  I was like, ‘It was all home grown.  It was us.’”

“We had this one guy come in here, I think it was Porter, and we ran the pursuit drill.  He didn’t make it one drill because it was something he was so unused to.  He just left.”

Sapp said, “They have a certain way of doing it.  They want to draft their guys, they want to build them together, they want them to grow together.  I like that.”

“One thing I know about football…if you buy in, it will work.  That’s what Bill Belichick does.  I like the philosophy of, 'I don’t need any of my critics to believe in me.  I need my ball club to believe in me.'  They are playing.  These kids are so ready to chomp at the bit.  They don’t know nothing but ‘Let’s do what coach says.’”

According to Sapp, head coach Raheem Morris said, “We’re going to go with our guys.”

Sense the excitement from Sapp, right here.