News and Quotes from Wednesday's Practice

by - Senior Writer -

The end of Wednesday’s scrimmage and practice marked the last time the media would have access to players before Saturday’s Spring Game. Tigernet caught up with several of them to get their thoughts on this spring practice, competition and on Saturday.

Quarterback Kyle Parker on how he feels he has played this spring, and if he feels Saturday will play an important role in who wins the quarterback job.. “I feel real good. I think I’ve got a good grasp of the offense. All in all , I think the offense has improved this spring. We can’t base the starter on that one game or on one practice. Willy has good days, I have had good days, and Mike Wade has had good days. I think this is shaping up to be a battle throughout the summer and fall.”

Fullback Chad Diehl, who played defense for one season while at Byrnes High School, has spent some time at linebacker this week in practice. Diehl could be utilized as a middle linebacker in goal line situations, and he talked about getting back on the defensive side of the ball. “It really hasn’t been full speed for me yet. It has to be a little slower paced. But overall, it went well. I feel like I just have to get used to it again, but it felt better than I thought it would. Right now, it is just in the goal line package, and they haven’t said anything about short-yardage, but if it goes well, it could work into something else. I am looking forward to it just so I can get on the field. I really love defense. I played it one year in high school, and I really didn’t have much of a chance then because I was playing offensive line. Defense is what I love, so it will be fun.”

Freshman offensive lineman J.K. Jay enrolled early so he could participate in spring practice, and he spoke about that decision and the difference between high school and college football. “It was good for me to come out here and get my technique down. That first Wednesday scrimmage we had was the first time I realized the biggest difference, but it isn’t as much of a difference as everybody is making it out to be. The biggest thing is making the calls and reading the defense, but really not that much different. I know that I still have a lot of work to do, but I am going to work hard this summer and put myself in a position to make an impact in the fall.”

Wide receiver Brandon Ford had a stellar scrimmage last Saturday in Death Valley, and he hopes to repeat that this weekend. He talked about his growth, and how he feels the receiving corps has progressed this spring. “I feel like I am coming along. Today I had another good day, I caught everything that was thrown my way, and I am picking up the offense pretty well. I am just trying to use every chance I get to show the coaches what I can do. Today, I had a couple of missed assignments on blocks, but I didn’t quit, and was still trying to find somebody to hit. You just have to be consistent and make plays. This group of receivers, we all played together last year, and we are still the same group and we have a lot of chemistry. People say that we are going to be the downfall of the offense, but I don’t think so. We will pull this thing together by Middle Tennessee.”

Quarterback Willy Korn on the quarterback competition and how feels this spring as he recovers from December shoulder surgery. “Saturday is going to be a fun day. Everybody is looking forward to it, and we have had a good week of practice. I am not sure where we are in the competition; you would have to ask the coaches that. I have to put all my focus on me, and I think I have done well. I have completed a lot of passes, and I’m happy with where everything is. I know this competition is going to go into the fall, but you do want to show what you’ve got on Saturday.”

Head coach Dabo Swinney talked about the spring as a whole and the competition for several jobs. “We have been trying to be the kind of team we want to be in the fall, and trying to find that square peg to fit into that square hole. We are trying to create that mentality that we want to have, and we are taking steps in all of those areas. We have gotten really good play out of our quarterbacks, and it has been good to see the young guys up front. They are much, much improved. I am proud of them, and what Coach Pearman and Coach Scott are doing with those guys. We have lain a good foundation this spring to go work this summer, and work in the camps, and when we get back together, we have a chance to be a good football team by Sept. 5th. The good thing is, we have created a lot of competition this spring. It has been like an open house. We are looking for winners, guys that want to play, and really, that should created momentum into the summer and when we’re done we’ll have 44 guys that we can win with.”

Swinney also spoke on why he thinks the offensive line will be better. ”Experience. Like I said, we played five linemen last year that had never played before, Now they have all played. Last spring, they had no clue. Now they understand how to meet, how to prepare, and they are more confident in their success. They are a proudful group, and they don’t want people talking about them. We have got the right guys, they just have to get better. This game is about being physical, and what it comes down to, is either you whip the guy in front of you or he whips you. We have done some things in practice to foster that mentality.”

Swinney on the receivers and how they have progressed this spring. “Xavier Dye made a great play for a touchdown today. He made a great play on fourth and long, made the catch, and drug the defensive back for a first down. He took a step forward. Same thing for Jaron Brown, Marquan Jones, Brandon Ford and Brandon Clear. Right now, the top three would be Jacoby, Terrence Ashe and Dye.”

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