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Q&A With Coach Mac

March 22, 2002 · Joe Womac
GoBlueRaiders.com writer Joe Womac sat down with Blue Raider head coach Andy McCollum to ask him a few questions about his feelings at the halfway point of spring practice.

Everyone is pointing to the Quarterback position; what is your assessment of the situation thus far in spring ball?

I am excited so far. I'm very pleased with the progress of Andrico Hines, Andre Green and with Blake Rolan, who is doing some good things. Andrico really had a good day on Wednesday. He has a lot of ability, but he's going to have to keep getting better every single day. Andre is getting a little bit more confidence as he goes, and he's starting to get a better feel for what we're doing. Both of them have a lot of ability and can lead the team, both are also great team players. They just have to learn to work within the system, don't turn the ball over, make good decisions, and get the ball to those who can make the plays. Both are learning to do just that.

We have a lot of new faces in the secondary; how are they coming along?

I have been pleased to this point. Shawn Allen is a guy who we have been waiting on that I really think is going to bring a lot to us. Michael Woods is one of the better football players that I've been around. Free Safety, Muhammad Rashada is getting better this spring; he has continued growing up and becoming more consistent every snap. Tony Sutton is coming on as a new guy and he's been very impressive with great speed. Will Martin, not having played defense since high school is showing some good things and is getting better. I think we are adding a lot to our secondary, and I like the enthusiasm and what they have done to this point, so I couldn't be more pleased.

Our defense improves every year, and it looks like we have more speed and athleticism this year; how does our defense look as a whole?

A coach can't ever be happy in spring because if the offense does well, you're mad at the defense, and if the defense does well, you're mad at the offense. So that's always got me on the edge. I feel like we are faster, we're bigger, stronger, but I want to know where the toughness is; I want to know how tough we are on defense. I think we have a few tough guys, but I'm not sure if we have enough yet, and that's what we're going to find out through the rest of the spring. I want the guys to come together as a group and work through the system, but not as individuals. Those are things that we are going to have to keep doing as a whole. As far as ability, we have improved every year, and it's improved right now, and we have some guys who can win on defense, but we are going to have to do it as a group. We have to become a physically tough team on the defensive side of the ball.

With the advent of four new coaches, how well is everyone meshing together?

I've been pleased. So far the enthusiasm, work ethic, sense of urgency, and the coming together as a group has gone well. I couldn't be more pleased right now. Practice wise, as far as the organization and intensity, and the tempo of the practice that we believe in, have all gone well to this point.

The Media Relations department is holding a campaign in support of Dwone Hicks receiving the heismen trophy; how does that make you feel, and what do you think his chances are?

I think that the first thing that helps is team. I think that the more success that the team has the better opportunity it would be for Dwone, and the better our team is the better it is for Dwone to have a great year. He is very deserving. He has been here for three years and had three really good years here. I look for big things from Dwone, because he is working just as hard now as he was two year ago, but that's just the type of person he is. But he also knows that he has two guys right there with him, Reshard Lee and Don Calloway, who are pushing him everyday. It's a great situation with a great kid. He has the entire offensive line back, and we have some good young ones coming on for added depth. I think it's a great honor to even be thought of in that part of it, but Dwone is a team guy who wants what's best for the team and to get to a bowl game. I think he would take that over anything. I'm not speaking for him, that is just the type of person he is.

Our offense has been rated high in the past several years and we have all five of our offensive line players back; how do you feel about our offense for this season?

Wednesday we had a really good day. Tyrone Calico brings a lot of experience to the receivers, and Kerry Wright is having a good spring. We have really got some good depth with a lot of good competition on the front line. Brandon Westbrook who has been a two-year starter, with Julius Gant who started a lot of games last year; Glen Elarbee who is a leader at center and started eleven games last season; senior Kevin Pascoe started ten games and David Coy. All of these guys are back. Jon Barry started a few games for us last year; Brandon Parker continues to get better; Bill Brasch, Josh Willoughby, and Jonathan Proby are all making great strides. Gary Sanders is getting better. Shavaskey Brown is making a move. So we have really got some guys competing right now, which only helps our offense continue to get better.

Everyone knows the big names on the team, but who has really stood out to you so far in practice?

Brandon Lynch is a guy who shows a lot of desire and intensity. Louis Kemp is a guy who you don't read about a lot, but he is really getting better. David Youell is someone who people may know after the season that he had last year; he is a relentless worker who wants to get better. Glen Elarbee is a hard worker, who may not be as talented as a lot of people, but he is hard nosed and has a great work ethic, and it means a lot to him. I've been pleased with Quan Domineck, our tight end, who I think has great chance to makes some strides this year and do a lot of things. I think Michael Woods is a great football player where the game means something to him, and he goes out there everyday to get better. And Jerry Vanderpool really came on the last three or four games of last season, and I think he is making great strides right now. There are a lot of guys stepping up right now, but we just need a group of them. We need to gel as a group and just come together as fast as we can.

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