Listen to Audio (23:29)
Opening Remarks -
"We've had a great first seven practices, it's been a lot of fun, the kids have worked tremendously hard, we had our first two-a-day yesterday. We're looking forward to getting better each day. I've been really proud of the kids and how they've handled things - this is a resilient group, they've done a great job moving forward.
"Through all of this, these kids have really banded together well and done a good job of complementing and working with each other and practicing hard. The leadership on this team, through all that's going on, has come to the forefront, taking the younger guys and helping them understand - I'm really proud of that.
"Bryn Renner has really been a guy that you can see him growing every day, and not just football but leadership skills with the offense and defense. He's one of those guys that everybody on the team likes. We're going to need that from him.
"We just got Brandon Ellerbe back in, he's a young man that had to finish up some academic work and now he's back in the fold, so we're excited about him joining the family and getting him going. Hopefully he'll help us win some games.
"Donte Paige-Moss, he's had some medical issues and right now he's scheduled to return to practice tomorrow. He's going to get himself acclimated today a little bit and we're looking forward to getting him back on the field."
Listen to Audio (3:10)
There were a lot of big-name departures off last year's defense that are now in the NFL,
"Yeah, we (lost) a lot of talent, but we've got a lot of great guys and I feel like we're not missing a beat. We've got Coples, Tydreke, and everyone stepping up, now I've got a lot of confidence in our whole defense."
What do you think Zach Brown can do this year with a starting role?
"I feel like he can do great things starting this year, because he's real fast and athletic. He didn't start last year, but he was second on the team in tackles, so with him now starting I'm going to expect him to do a lot more."
Listen to Audio (3:35)
How surprised were you that the NCAA wanted to talk to you this summer?
"I was very surprised. I did everything the right way, I'm known for doing things the right way, but other than that we did it, got cleared and moved on. ... I wasn't nervous at all. You become nervous when you're guilty, so I had nothing to be nervous about."
What have you seen from Sylvester Williams?
"Very impressed. He's actually moved up to the starting position and he's definitely worked hard to get it. He's got a lot to show this upcoming season."
Listen to Audio (1:44)
Where have you improved the most from last season?
"My understanding of the game, reading defenses, knowing how to play. Just really having a good feel for the game."
How has Bryn Renner looked to you during the first week of practice?
"Bryn's been looking good. We're still developing our chemistry, still got a long way to go, but every day we're progressing. As long as we're doing that, I think we can have a big upcoming season."
Listen to Audio (4:00)
How much are you working with Ryan Houston, even though he's not practicing full speed yet?
"He's a big help, he helps me out with the reads and blitz pickups. He knows the game better than the other running backs - he's been here the longest - and he's a real help in the meeting room, answering questions and knowing the fronts. Having that experience helps me out because I'm basically a freshman on the field."
Are you 100%?
"Yeah, I feel perfectly fine. I feel like I'm back to normal, if not better - I feel faster, stronger, quicker, better out of my cuts. There's nothing wrong with my knee, you may see a brace but it's just to have it there ... Honestly, I felt like I was back to 100 percent a really long time ago, it was just a matter of making it stronger than it was before."
Listen to Audio (6:34)
Are you feeling more anxious for the start of this season?
"Yeah, anxious is the right word. ... I'm just ready to play a game and really looking forward to it."
Gio Bernard mentioned your leadership, and how you're texting a lot of players ...
"I really think that's the No. 1 job of the quarterback, being the head in charge and make sure everyone knows what's going on. After the Tennessee I started that, texting every receiver and every lineman - I've got a thing in my phone that keeps it organized - and said 'Hey, we need to do bigger things and I think we can.'"
Listen to Audio (3:49)
How much will it help Bryn Renner to have an experienced line in front of him?
"I think it's big. We need to give him as much time as we can - every pass play, make him feel comfortable. Once he starts getting confident, you're going to see his big-play ability."
What have you seen from A.J. Blue thus far at running back?
"The transition from quarterback, he still has to learn some of the offense, but he's doing a great job. He's got great vision. He's a do-it-all guy. Yesterday in practice he made an amazing catch down the sideline on third down. We were excited to see that and we're excited to see what he can do on Saturdays."
Listen to Audio (5:43)
How difficult was last year for you, not being able to play but practicing with the team?
"It was pretty difficult, knowing I could have been out there helping the team. It hurt knowing that the young guys had to be thrown in."
Coach Withers said you've been one of the most impressive guys in the secondary so far. Has it been an easy transition back from the scout team to the 1st and 2nd team?
"I think it's been relatively easy. Because I'm an older guy, I've seen a lot of football and been in a lot of situations, and because I was doing scout team for the whole year I wasn't completely off the field."
Listen to Audio (3:05)
Where have you improved since last season?
"One of the biggest things for me is kicking confidently from further out. So far, Coach Pittman, Coach Withers and Coach Mo' have all let me kick some longer field goals in practice - 54, 49, 50, 52 - and for me that's big showing they have confidence in me. I haven't been that consistent but I told them the more kicks I kick the more confident I can get."
You've obviously very accurate, and it seems like your first three years 42 or 43 would be as far out as you'd go but in pregame we'd see you hit it from a lot further out.
"Definitely it's confidence. Kicking is 90 percent mental. With the team, when you have that feeling that the coach doesn't kick from out far, in your mind you think 'He doesn't think I can so maybe I can't.' Last year I had a 46 and 49 and I think it showed all the coaches that I can kick farther."