Talking with Tommy Spangler
April 8, 2010
RUSTON, La. - Here is the full transcript of LATechSports.com talking with defensive coordinator Tommy Spangler for the spring football report on the safeties. Too much good stuff to use in one story but to not post somewhere.
"Because of the type of offense we're going against, Tank Calais has been playing more nickel back, which is a glorified outside linebacker, than he has safety and he has had a great spring. He had a little bit of a setback with a pulled muscle but he's coming around and is doing a great job. Tank has kind of been the bell cow for us back there even though he's playing nickel. He's been a better leader than he's ever been. He has set the pace for those young guys. It is like we have a couple seniors and then it is a drop-off to sophomores and freshmen."
"I have been pleased with the progress and that's what you have to do - feel like you are building on something and continuing to improve day-to-day. For the most part, we've done that. We've had some setbacks here and there but sometimes to learn from mistakes, you have to make mistakes. We've had plenty of mistakes to learn from but they are all into it, they all have great attitudes, they are all dialed in, focused on the task at hand, they are good meeting room players, they study film and it is a good group to work with."
"We just have ways to go and it is hard to really correlate where you are right now. We still have plenty of time with some spring left, all summer and fall camp. We're getting a lot of reps and that is what Coach [Sonny] Dykes and Coach [Tony] Franklin have brought to this program. We're getting plenty of reps and plenty of work. That's what our guys need and it is quality work. Overall, I've been pleased. You can ask the guys, it is never good enough for me but that's just the way it is but their work habits are good and we just have to keep progressing."
"Chad Boyd, C.J. Broades, Sumner Ellis, Drexel Perkins, Jared Edwards are all getting reps and they are all going to be guys that we will have to count on. Last year we didn't really want to play C.J. Broades much but he got some reps towards the end of the year but now I am glad he did have them. Chad Boyd is another one who I wish we didn't have to play him as much as we did last year but now that they are so-called possible starters, I'm glad that they have that Saturday game experience. We're still young, we're learning and we just have to keep learning."
"It's scary to count on a true freshman or too many true freshmen on the back end because if you make a mistake there, it's six points for the other team. Those guys have a combination of physically making plays and mentally being sharp. That is what going against this offense has made us do this spring. It is not only taxing on you because of the pace and the reps you're getting in a short amount of time but it is also taxing with all the multiple things that they are doing. To be a productive safety, you have to have a good combination of physical tools and the mental aspect of it too."
On new style of practice putting defense in better physical shape:
"The negative is we are only seeing a certain personnel group and certain formations. That's the tough thing about playing defense; you have to be ready to defend against it all. When you throw a team in there like Navy, it's the exact opposite of what we've been seeing this spring."
"There is no doubt that the pace that our offense plays at is making us tougher mentally and physically. Our guys get tired and when you are tired, you have to reach down and focus on execution, not only physically but mentally. You not only focus on what you're doing but the what to do, the how to do it and all that. That part of it is getting us better - the fast pace, the up tempo and the multiple plays that our offense runs. It has been great to go against this offense all spring."
On C.J. Broades and Chad Boyd:
"But both of those guys are good solid people, good character kids. They both do a good job in the classroom, they both are willing to want to work and they let me coach them. They seem to learn from their mistakes, they remember and they try to correct it. We hit a home run when it comes to signing both of those guys when it comes to the kind of people they are and the kind of workers they are. They have had a lot thrown at them and they are still around 18 years old. But they are guys that are projected to play a lot so they have to grow up and mature quickly and keep getting better. There again, all of these reps have done nothing but help them improve."
On Tank Calais and leadership:
"We all got a new breath of life with the change and a new beginning and a new start. He definitely has looked at it that way, even though it is his last year. He knows that he can cut loose and have his best season yet. He has done nothing but be the kind of player and the kind of leader that a coach wants."
On the defense having a good spring:
"The bottom line is we all got a little sour taste about going 4-8. We had the feel of going to a bowl game and what it was like and then we had the feel of going 4-8 and (I'm hoping) we don't' like it very much. Maybe that has been the motivation behind these guys wanting to go back to work, doing the basics, doing the fundamental things. It's all about technique and confidence and being a guy that can rely on your teammates. I think we are playing more confident back there and more confident as a whole than we ever have."
On other guys:
"Then there are guys like Jared Edwards and Drexel Perkins. Drexel has kicked back from safety to running back, back to safety then back to running back and back to safety again. He's a guy that just comes to work."
"I like the overall attitude that Coach Dykes has brought to our program that we're just a blue collar football team. We have to go earn and work for everything we want and it is not going to be real flashy, it is not going to be real fancy, it is not going to be anything but a product of hard work, dedication and being dialed in. We have some guys that are backups that have truly exemplified that, being true blue collared workers."
On the speed:
"In the long run when we go up against some of these teams that go in the huddle and take their time lining up, I don't know what our guys will do. They'll be sitting there, waiting, anxious - I hope they don't jump offsides. I think it can't do anything but make us better. Now when people try to two-minute offense us late in the game, we're going to be used to the pace and the quickness. From a work standpoint, we've always worked hard. But the pace of the practice and the reps has made us better."