Excited obviously to get out to a 1-0 start. Had to endure an injury to our quarterback, Brandon Mitchell, who started off pretty fast with two touchdown drives.
Thought we were doing some pretty good things both sides of the ball early on. Peter Thomas came in, played well. Once he settled down, we were able to finish the game. Got a lot of people in.
Forced some turnovers, protected the ball. Thought our kicker Niklas Sade did a nice job in our opening game.
We come back with a game with Richmond, ranked 12th. Had a great shutout in their opening game. We know they're a good football team, returning a lot of starters, a team that has done well in the past playing up, particularly in our state.
We look forward to the opportunity, know it's going to be a definite challenge on Saturday.
What went into the thought process of moving M.J. Salahuddin from the middle to outside in those last couple weeks of camp? How did you feel he performed in the opener?
All the linebackers did some good things in the first game. They also need to tackle better. I think that showed up when fatigue set in with all the guys, not just him.
Moving the guys around, he started as an outside backer, was a safety in high school. We moved him inside in the spring. Gentry and Caldwell just really came on, had great summers, to their credit. They're bigger than M.J., a little bit more stable inside. Just allowed him to go out back to where he was probably more suited to play at his size.
It gives us more depth where we can rotate and feel we have six guys we can play with now.
Dave, what was your assessment of Thomas once he came into the game as quarterback? How might the offense be different this week with him as the starter now?
Yeah, I thought he did a good job. He came off the bench. When you're a backup, you don't take the same number of reps as the starter in practice. You have to show the ability to be ready mentally without physically getting the activity. He did that.
Made some nice throws. Obviously there's some things he could do better. But Pete plays hard. He's going to prepare extremely hard this week. As far as the offense, we'll continue to be balanced. May have to be more creative with how we do some of our run game without a mobile quarterback. We showed that by bringing in Bryant Shirreffs and Josh Taylor.
We have some other skilled quarterbacks that can do some things. I know Coach Canada will do a good job with the way he dresses up that part of the offense. We'll continue to use our tailbacks, tight ends, run the football and be physical.
What concerns you about the Richmond offense when you look at them on film?
They're balanced. They've got a great receiver. Ben Edwards, pre-season All-American, No. 6. Also their returners. Plays with a lot of confidence. Has good speed.
They don't beat themselves. They led the nation in turnover margin last year. Had a bunch of interceptions, I think 24, as a defense last season.
Offensively they're not going to give it to you. You're going to have to take it from them, play sound. Like us, they do a lot of different things. They're multiple.
We have to be able to adjust our packages and be sound against them and tackle in space.
When you mentioned your revamped quarterback depth chart, you didn't mention Manny. What is his status now?
We're trying to redshirt Manny. If we have one more injury, we'll have to bring him up, as well. Feel he needed to develop.
I think him playing last year was premature for his growth as a player. I think he's got a future ahead of him if he can develop a little bit. Going against our starting defense every day, that will help him a lot.
He's still playing quarterback?
Hasn't changed position. Right now he's a redshirt. Giving him an opportunity to work on his mechanics, his throwing, the competition, all the things that go with seeing the college game and have it slow down in his head. I think a year going against our defense as a scout team quarterback will really benefit him.
What do you need specifically out of Thomas moving forward here over the next couple weeks?
Well, we need him to not beat us. Just distribute the ball to the right people, don't try to win the game, just don't lose it. I think that's something that quarterbacks can try to make too many plays when they don't really have to.
There's going to be times we need him to be obviously from a decision standpoint putting the ball in the right guy's hands as a distributor. When it's third down, he's going to have to make the throws we need.
The one thing we'll need is all the things that Coach Canada does, get the ball to the right person, understand the read, try to understand why we do what we do, try not to do too much.
Pete can do that. We're looking forward to see him take his opportunity and do something with it.
I wanted to ask you about Matt Dayes. Can you talk about him. Were you surprised or is that what you expected?
It was what I was hoping we'd get because that's what we'd seen in practice. He has great vision and explosion. Some guys see it. Some guys you have to rep it, rep it, then they see it. Matt sees it right away. He's got that vision.
Speed-wise, his first 20 yards are exceptional. He's got good burst and explosion early in the run. He's low to the ground. As he learns even more to run behind his pads, he'll get better that way on yards after contact.
That's what I was hoping we could see. The O-line did a good job at times and Matt did a good job making people miss.