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."
"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:
"I don't think that there is any doubt that the pace that our offense plays. There's no doubt that the system that we're going against - the fast pace, the spread out, all the screens, downfield throws, the good running game - it makes you have to be an all-around good player. You can't just focus in on the pass, especially because we are spread. I think our offense brings a sense of toughness too."
"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:
"I would be disappointed if I didn't think that C.J. Broades and Chad Boyd weren't progressing but they are. They are getting better each day and they are both maturing each day. You have to remember, this time last year they were sitting in a high school classroom. They are still very young even though they played a bit as true freshmen. Those reps helped - they played a bit on special teams and on defense. Chad probably played a little bit more than C.J., who got indoctrinated against Boise State for the tune of 70-something plays. What a trial by fire."
"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:
"Tank Calais is a guy that has always been a much respected player amongst his peers. I think he has as much respect from his peers as anyone else on our football team. What he has been lacking is the leadership qualities. Some guys sometimes don't realize how big a leader they can be and I think Tank is finally realizing that. He is stepping up and being a guy that is affecting others in a positive way. Those guys on our team see Tank, who has been with this program for four years and he is out there busting his fanny just as hard as anyone else and probably working as hard as or harder than anyone else. He looks around, sees some younger guys on the back end with him and he is trying to help them, encourage them and is setting an example with his style of play. I have been proud of him since the coaching change."
"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:
"What is going on is the offense we are going against is making us better. The receivers are running better routes, harder routes, and sharper routes with the disciple and the pace. I think it has forced our guys to improve. I say that from a compliment standpoint about our offense. There has been more competition, some guys battling for playing time."
"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:
"There are guys working out there that haven't had much playing time but they've earned their stripes. Guys like Sumner Ellis, who has been a journeyman. He is finally getting reps this spring and he hasn't had that in the past. He's made mistakes but I see the improvement and that is the beauty of competing. He is a competitor, he busts his fanny and he works hard. It is good to see improvement and possibly being a guy we can count on."
"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:
"I will say this about Derek [Dooley], he did a great job of instilling a work ethic in our kids. As far as practice organization, knowing how to practice and knowing how to get after it, I think that was something that Coach Dooley changed the culture about several years ago. The thing that Coach Dykes and Coach Franklin have brought in is the amount of reps in a short period of time. That's the bottom line. We'll have a 20 minute seven-on-seven drill where we used to have 24 plays now we are getting 40-something plays. That has helped us and it teaches us mental toughness as much as physical toughness."
"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."