Transcript: Fuente Press Conference
Aug. 27, 2012
"Thank y'all for coming today. Obviously, this is an exciting week for our program, this University and community. We're looking forward to kicking off a new era of Tiger football on Saturday in front of a big crowd. Our kids have been working hard. I think they're tired of practicing. They're happy I'm sure that school has finally started and we're actually going to get to play a game that counts."
On if he expects to have to go 2- or 3-deep on Saturday
"There's no telling. We want to get our 1's and 2's the same amount of reps. We've prepared both sides because by the end of the year your 2's are your 1's. That's the way it goes. We try to get both sides of the ball 2-deep to get prepared to play the game."
The difference between the team in the spring and now
"I don't just throw out compliments to the team all the time. I told them yesterday after practice how far they've come. I think they're different people from an accountability level, conditioning level and a strength level. As a program, do we have a long way to go? Absolutely. In my opinion, in the last eight months these kids have come a million miles and I'm awfully proud of them."
On who will take the first snap at running back
"It'll go back and forth. We're going to play guys in that position. Who takes the first snap may be completely different than the person who takes the second, third, fourth and fifth snap. We're going to roll guys through there and get them touches."
On if all the positions are finalized
"Where we're at, there's a few spots that guys are still competing for. There's not a clear-marked guy in some of those spots. We'll move guys in and out, which is a good thing. We didn't have some of that competition in the spring. It's good that we have guys pushing each other and competing for playing time. There's some guys in secondary that we'll move in and out. We have some at running back and wide receiver that will move in and out. There will be some shuffling around."
On who will be the second string quarterback behind Jacob Karam
"Jacob's our starter and the other guys will rotate through. They all have a skill set that brings something to the table. It's an ongoing development with us right now."
On those that have impressed him so far
"We've had several guys that have really improved throughout the summer. Reggis Ball is a guy that had a really good summer. On special teams, he has done a solid job. I don't know if many people around here really know who he is. Terry Redden has been a solid performer for us defensively. We've had some competition in the thrower position that has been good for us. I'm really proud of the way we have attacked the summertime."
On coaching his first game as a head coach
"The biggest thing for me is the team. It is nice to get to that spot to build a staff and try and mold a team. We have a group of seniors that this is their last go at it. I want to make sure that I do every single thing possible to make sure they have a good three of four months that they can have. I feel that burden that we put them in the best position possible. There's excitement for me on a personal level to go out there but there's also a sense of responsibility."
On the growth of the offensive line
"We've continued to tweak things to capitalize on their skill set. I think that they have embraced the attitude and demeanor that we would like our guys to have. It's an ever-changing process. We have some good leadership. Some guys have come along and played better than they did in the spring. A lot of that is the comfort with the terminology. We're trying to get that hesitancy out of them."
On the expectations for Saturday
"I'm hopeful that people come out and come to a beautiful venue that the city and corporations here in town have spent a lot of money on to make it a more fan-friendly environment. Our kids have worked incredibly hard to play a good opponent at home. I'm optimistic that the people of Memphis will turn out and cheer us on. We're going to need them. On third down, we're going to need it to be loud. They're going to see a team play hard, smart and tough. That's what I've asked of my team. If they do those three things, they're going to give themselves an opportunity. That's what we're preaching."