Joe Connolly and our strength staff have done a super job. I really believe our guys are in tiptop shape and ready for a long season. We try to improve our conditioning as the season goes along also. We've got good leadership I think. We've got a really good mixture between the older players and the younger players. I think we have excellent leadership again from the older players. We are ready to see whatever we can do this year. We were picked No. 9 in the first poll. Obviously, we know we have a chance. The media picked us to win the (SEC) East. Our goal is to win the East. If we are fortunate enough to do that, our goal will be to win the SEC (Championship). Other than that we will go one game at a time. We will just be talking about Texas A&M until that one is over, and after that East Carolina, Georgia and down the line. I really think these players all like each other. The effort last night in the conditioning drills after practice was some of the best that I've seen around here. It was fun to watch. Whatever that means, I don't know except that we will start finding out Aug. 28.
On Dylan Thompson going to quarterback camps
Dylan went to the Manning Camp and one up in Ohio last year. I said come back and tell me if they are telling you anything different. They do tell them a tiny bit different. I'm not a big stickler on the way we throw it. I'm a stickler on holding the ball with two hands and stepping and throwing it and that kind of stuff. I think the quarterback coach and offensive coordinator on every team should be coaching his quarterbacks and not those guys. Those guys seem to be helpful I guess. If it helps them, that's fine. G.A. Mangus does a super job coaching them too. We feel like we have plenty of coaches around here.
On being in his 10th year at South Carolina
I thought it was possible to coach 8-10 years. I told everybody that's what I wanted to do. I told everybody that I'm not here for 2-3 years and try to find one of those jobs that has more advantages than this one used to have. Now this one has the advantages. It's clear now that with the facility upgrades and our track record we have turned into a school with some advantages. It took a few years to get where we are, but that doesn't mean we've got it made. We could fall flat on our face this year if we don't watch it, but I really think this is a team that will prepare to play the best they can each year. I do think we are a school with advantages now. We graduate our players, they stay out of trouble, we win and we send them to the NFL. We have a track record of all of that.
On freshmen who have stood out
Both of those freshmen DBs, Chris Lammons and Wesley Green, it didn't take long for them to show they can play. Al Harris Jr. is another freshman. Those three are out there and are competing at a high level with the other players. I looked out there last night and I think one of them is already on first-team defense. Certainly those players as freshmen can help us. This Tyshun Samuel is really going to be a good player. Other than that we let all of the guys earn their way. The linebacker, Bryson Allen-Williams, looks pretty good too.
On Brendan Nosovitch playing a different position Brendan Nosovitch is a thick kid. He had the fastest shuttle on the team last year. I don't know if he was top this year. He's got good thick hands. He's an athlete and can run with it and can catch. We've got to find a way to utilize his talents, whether it's tight end, slot receiver or wildcat quarterback. He's very capable. His passing has not been quite as good as the other guys, but he's a good athlete. We are trying to find a way he can help our team.
On Shaq Roland and the receiving corps
Shaq is doing well and Damiere Byrd. Those are two fast players that are ready to go. Shamier Jeffery has had a good summer also. We've got a lot of players out there. It's going to be interesting. Jerell Adams at tight end, we've got to get a lot more balls going to him. He's a talent who is faster than he's ever been. I know everybody has all kind of talent this time of year. It will work its way out when you start playing games. Those receivers that get open and catch a lot of passes will have a lot of balls coming their way.
On making the game safer
I think the game is a lot safer. The new rules I 100 percent agree with. The helmet-to-helmet rule has helped. Our players have learned you don't have to hit them in the head. The game is a lot safer than it used to be. When I played, they allowed the rushers to hit the quarterback within one Mississippi I think they used to say. They very seldom called roughing the passer back when I played. They do call it now and they protect the guys. I really believe it is a lot safer game.
On Dylan Thompson
Dylan has been doing that all summer and spring practice. He's ready to go and is getting a lot of work out there. He knows what is happening. He's been here quite a while. We are going to let him earn his stripes as he goes. He's ready to play. Behind him players haven't played much at all. We need to keep Dylan very healthy this year.