Feb. 2014

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17 Q: You talk about the guys behind the scenes that fans haven't seen yet. Is there a name or two that you are eager to see an increased role next season? For one obvious position, we have three senior linebackers which was great, the bad news is they aren't going to be with us moving forward. It gave us a chance to watch those guys operate and we rested our starters a little bit — the starting linebackers — and let the other guys jump in there with the first group and see how we would function with those guys. It gives you a chance to experiment a little bit, make sure you have the right people identified. You have that level of guys that will be competing for starting jobs replacing the seniors we lost and then beyond some younger guys that were playing on the scout team during the course of the fall, we had a chance to watch them in our offensive and defensive system. It was almost like a minispring where you get a chance to get those guys moving forward a little bit. e whole aim is when we start spring practice, those guys should be further along than they would have been. Q: You talk about meeting aer the Nebraska game in 2012. What is on the to-do list this offseason? It's the same theme in some ways. We flipped our record but the message for our players to understand that whatever happened last year, good or bad, is last year and guys like James Morris, Christian Kirksey, Anthony Hitchens, Brett Van Sloten — those guys aren't going to be out there next year. C.J. Fiedorowicz won't be catching touchdowns in the red zone. We have a new team here and we have to form our identity. e message is that this is a new season, just like last year, and there is no guarantee in sports. ere is no guarantee that we're going to get back in the neighborhood where we wanted to be in last year. And there is no guarantee that you can't backwards, too. It's determined by the work and focus the team exhibits; in this case this team doesn't start to form its identity until the guys come back from winter break. e key thing now is, 'Hey, we're looking forward again' and what do we have to do to shore up our weaknesses, what do we have to do to settle competition, figure out who our starters are going to be. Learn what stories are going to emerge and all those things that make it so fun and enjoyable. It's a clean slate and this team that will start off the 2014 season has an opportunity to do anything they want to do and that's the key thing and the most important thing is the work that we're going to do daily work that we do to try to position ourselves. Q: How nice is it to once again have continuity on your coaching staff? We have been through a transition and every time I talk about it, it's important to emphasize that it was a two-year process and not by design, that's just how it worked. We have six new staff members; we did last year over a two-year span. e staff is much like a team that has to fit together — the pieces have to fit — everybody has to be on the same page and everybody has to understand what the chemistry is and this group came together with great ease and I can't say enough about the transition that took place and the credit goes to our coaches. It's a good group, it's a diverse group — younger, older, real experienced, less experienced — the guys are professional and they care about our players. ey are committed to team success, so I can't say enough about the way the guys have worked together and the way they have worked with our players and the way they represent this university and state. I'm extremely pleased and hopeful we can keep this staff together for a long time, much like we did with our first run.

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