Opening statements about the loss of Andrew Smith
We lost a great friend and a great person Saturday morning in Andrew Smith. He was loved by every member of this football team and coaching staff. He was respected by everyone for a lot of reasons. The way he conducted himself, the way he was unselfish and willing to help his teammates, his friends. We respected the way he handled the good times, the way he handled the tough times he went through and how he dealt with adversity.
As you might well expect, our football team is filled with a lot of different emotions. They are trying to be excited and focused about the upcoming season. At the same time, they are dealing with a loss of a great friend. Our football team is obviously devastated. Some words that came from Mr. Smith was that Andrew would want these guys to carry on.’ We are never go to forget him. We already miss him.
As far as trying to honor him, we are going to wear his jersey numer, No. 12, on the back of every player’s helmet. We already talked about the best way to honor Andrew Smith is for each of them to try live their lives the way he lived his; to have class in everything you do, excel in academics, excel in football, and by being a great person off the field. The best way to honor Andrew Smith was not to waste the opportunity that each one of these kids has, the opportunity thatAndrew Smith had taken away.
Opening statements on the upcoming season
We had our first practice this morming with the freshmen. We feel very good about that group. There is a lot of talent and potential in this group. As I told them this morning, those two things do not automatically make you a player.
The one thing about this football team that have been able to do in the past is to focus. Right now their focus is going to be tested dealing with the loss of a great friend. They are going to have their down times as we know. They are never going to forget him, but it will get better. I think they know they have to carry on and try to meet the challenges in front of them.
Offensively, we probably scored as many points last year as we have in awhile, we scored 43 a game at home. We are as balanced as we have ever been. We hope to continue to be that way. We start off trying to have an established running game with the return of Patrick Cobbs.
At quarterback, we have Scott Hall returning for his senior year and looks to be in good condition. At offensive line, we have a few returning players: Lonnie Chambers, Andy Brewster, Andy Harvey, Weston Thaggard. We are looking for Dylan Linberry, Jeremy Brown to step in and have a solid eight, nine, ten men rotation.
We are playing on using Andy Blount in the fullback position and expand what he does. He has been a tight end, a H-back and we are going to play him at fullback. We feel Johnny Quinn is right on track to pick up where he left off last year. Zach Muzzy looks to be healthy, Kevin Howards returns after being out last year. From what we saw of Roy Covington and Brock Stickler this morming, they may be able to figure in. At tight end, Beau Davidson had an excellent spring, Matt Bradshaw is back healthy and Andy Blount will figure in at that position also. So, we feel as if we have some weapons offensively. We want to continue to be balanced. We want to be as effective running the ball as we do throwing the ball. In our opinion, that’s when we began winning games.
Defensively, we have a good nucleus of players, but we also have some questions. On the front, we feel that Michael Pruitt can step in and provide outstanding play at nose guard, which is where Brandon Kennedy played. Evan Cardwell looks to be in the best shape he has ever been in. Montell Stevenson had a good spring at tackle. Chris Miller looks to be ready to go.
We have some depth at the defensive line. Adrian Awasom was picked conference preseason defensive player of the year, and I hope I can say that again in a few months. He had a good summer.
What do you hope your players will carry over to this season?
I think we can learn (from the death of Andrew Smith). We set five goals for this football team every year. One of them is learning how to overcome adversity. This is a difficult situation that they have to deal with, they have no choice. They will all probably deal with it in their own way, some will want to talk about more than others. I think what they are maybe learning is that your time can come at any time. Here was a young man in the prime of his life, and it was taken away. I think they all realize, don’t waste a day. Live life to the fullest.
How much did having Adrian Awasom available for the spring help his development?
We thought that basketball benefitted him the past couple years. He improved certain parts of his football game by his basketball experience. Coach Jones worked his guys very hard. Adrian thought that for going into senior year, he needed to spend his spring in the weight room. He also wanted to work on his individual techinique that make you a better football player. So, he improved himself by being in an offseason program fulltime and by having 10-15 days to work on his technique. He looks very good.
How will the move of Andy Blount to the fullback position affect how much he is going to catch the ball?
We think it is going to expand his role. He is still going to play tight end, but we hope he wil be more involved. Andy can be in the game and lineup in the backfield, as tightend or in motion as an extra receiver. It gives us a lot more flexability the more Andy can do.
For a coach, how important is it to have players like Patrick Cobbs, Scott Hall and Adrian Awasom?
We have the nation’s leading rusher and scorer, but he also lines up and blocks punts. It sends a message to the rest of the team. Here is the nation’s leading rusher and he is lining up on the punt block team. A lot of people woudn’t do that, but we have to have the best 11 players on the field everytime the ball is snapped. The message to rest of the team is - be willing to do whatever role is asked of you for the better of the team. It’s great to have unselfish players, to have great players who have overcome adversity, and hopefully they will continue to show the younger guys how you have to conduct yourself to play football at North Texas.