BOCA RATON, Fla. -
We are excited to be in game week. We started preparation Thursday, but to actually be here on a Monday on a game week is a great feeling. A couple of comments on Reggie [Bain]. Like we said in the press release, we are not going to give out details about the specifics of the injury. He is in great spirits. He is getting great medical care. I was with him and his family right away on Friday after the traffic accident. I also saw him yesterday and on Saturday. So, I have been at the hospital every day. The most important thing is that he is safe. He is supported. From a big picture standpoint he is in a very good place.
Our current mission is 100% Southern Illinois. I have a ton of respect for Nick Hill. Nick played quarterback there. You can feel them building buzz around his program. I saw a clip where he was driving students to class on his golf cart. I love that. I may steal that idea. Offensively, he was their offensive coordinator last year. They averaged 498 yards per game, which was a record-setting year for their conference. [He] hired defensive coordinator Kraig Paulson, who has a ton of experience. He was at Montana, UNLV and he clearly has a heck of a system with the defense.
Our intention is to send out a list of projected starters, probably Wednesday. We will get into actual two-deeps in the weeks following.
A couple of announcements about the game day itself
It is Day One for our fans to show their OWLin spirit. I actually felt it yesterday right over on the field back there when our women’s soccer team taking No. 9 [North Carolina] to double overtime. Awesome. I love the culture that Patrick Baker [women’s head soccer coach] is building with his program and I think a lot of him and what that group is doing.
Students have an organized tailgate. They call it the Nocturnal Tailgate from 8 p.m. – 2 a.m. I think we will get a great turnout there. That is in lot 5 and I’m excited for that. For the next day, all tailgating starts five hours before. I encourage everyone to get out there and enjoy the full experience. Our “Owl Walk,” when the team arrives, is scheduled for 3:55 p.m.
There are some new stadium policies. Clear bags and things like that. If you go to www.fausports.com and click on Game Day Central, all of our fans will be able to get that.
I’m really looking forward to seeing our players’ families, our coaches’ families, our students, our faculty and our fans. I can’t wait to get that game-day experience and get back to it.
At the end of the day, what we are going to work to have is elite focus, relentless effort and fundamentals on film that we are proud of. That is what wins games. That is what we have been working to build the last two-and-a-half years.
What will change on the offensive line?
Left tackle you will see Dillon DeBoer, left guard Tarrick Thomas. At center you will see Roman Fernandez. Right side remains intact with Sug [Antonyo Woods] and Kelly Parfitt. That is our starting linemen.
Moving Dillon to outside. Is that because of his experience?
It is a combination of things. We know he has the athleticism to do it. We put him there on Saturday. He was like a fish thrown in the water. He was very comfortable. His experience at center and running a lot of the calls helped in him translate to a good first day. Byers [Hickmon] is back with us. So we will continue to get him accumulated again with full-go stuff.
How hard is it to adjust a week out?
To be honest and this is a unique way for it to happen, injuries are a part of football. Albeit, this is one that happened off the field and in an unfortunate traffic accident, but we will always have contingency plans and backups to those contingency plans. We always have a plan if something were to happen to Reggie or anyone on the football team. So, when that happens your first priority is to make sure Reggie is ok from a big-picture standpoint. Then football is out the window. That is priority one. You are really on priority four, five and six and then you implement the plan that you already had in place. It is tough of course. Did we have a plan in place? Next man up and we will get ready for the game.
What has it been like to see the players at the hospital and to continually give him support?
It means a lot. When it happened….the team was building up in the lobby. I went back to find out what was going on and to tell the team. To me, there is a time to put football aside and to just express how much you love this kid. I love Reggie Bain. I love him with everything I have and to see the team supportive with that same kind of emotional support means a lot.
What is the energy level for the weekend?
We are in a great place for that. As you know football is year-round but these guys were ready to get into game preparation last Thursday. They were tired of hitting after 20-some odd practices they were tired of it. The transition to game preparation is exciting and we had one of our better spiders, what we call non-padded practices, since I have been here.
What is it going to be like opening the season at home?
It is exciting, we have eight games in the state of Florida this year. It is a lot different than a couple of years ago. It is great for our fans. It is great for our kids. I’m really excited to open up in that stadium and for people to be a part of Day One.
What stands out about Southern Illinois?
We are looking at their offense from last year and we are really looking at UNLV’s defense because that is where Coach Paulson is coming from. We go to Southern Illinois defense for personnel reasons. Number five [Chase Allen], their linebacker, is one of their top players and he is an all-league type of guy. That jumped off the defensive film. The have transfers at the corner positions and they moved their corners into safeties so you have athletic guys moving into safeties. Schematically, what we see is a clear system. Sometimes you look at a film and you have no rhyme or reason. This guy has a system and that means that they are going to be well-coached. They are going to know what to do. Offensively, they are very fast-paced. There is a carry over to what we see daily to what Coach Hill is going to do with his staff on offense. They have named their starting quarterback. There is also a very athletic quarterback in No. 7 [Matt DeSomer] who will also play and we will have to defend him specifically when he is in there and they have a running back from Apopka, No. 5 [DaQuan Isom], who is extremely athletic. He had a big play in the Spring Game from reading the clips on that. There is athleticism and there is confidence on their offense and their defense has a system.