“Excited about the opportunity to get some of our players healed up, so I think the bye week comes at a good time for us. Fortunate to have this bye week coming off a good victory against Vanderbilt, but again, gives us a good opportunity to heal up our team, give us an opportunity to look back and look at the things that we may have done well throughout the season and some things we need to improve on and prepare ourselves for the last half of the season. So we got a lot of work to do. It’ll be a good week to do that. Had a very good practice yesterday and we’ll do the same here again today and tomorrow. That’s about it. I’ll open it up for questions.”
On Kengera Daniel’s 4th down stop vs. Vanderbilt: “Yeah, I think it was a good play for him. It was good to get him out there, get his feet wet. It was obviously a big play in the game and to see him make a good, strong, physical tackle and stop ‘em on 4th and 1 was a big play for him. So hopefully we’ll get him going some more. This bye week comes at a good time for him. As I mentioned yesterday we’re a little banged up at the outside backer position so he can get quite a few reps here this week and see if we can’t get him going. So, comes at a good time and it was a good stop for him.”
On how Daniel has responded to re-joining team after suspension: “Yeah, he’s doing a good job. He’s working hard and he was behind a little bit. He was on scout team while he was sitting out, but he’s getting better now and getting some more reps. He’s trying to gain the confidence from his peers and from the coaches, so he’s got a little work to do to get that trust level back up, but he’s working at it and doing very well.”
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On progress of true freshmen Drake Jackson, Davonte Robinson and Zy’Aire Hughes: “They’ve all done a very good job. Drake is a very good player as you know. We have some pretty good depth inside on our interior offensive line right now or else he is a guy that probably had the ability to play at an early age. Same with Davonte (Robinson). You know, we feel like we have some corners that are doing a good job, but Davonte is working hard. He spent quite a bit of time working with the ones and twos, working in his best interest if we could redshirt him if we could and that’s the plan right now, but Davonte’s gonna be an exceptional player. Same with Zy’Aire (Hughes). I love Zy’Aire’s attitude. He works extremely hard. He’s over there on scout team offense wide receiver, working against us every day. He just works exceptionally hard. All three of those guys do. They’re really great young men. Gonna be great players for us. It’s good that we have the opportunity to redshirt those three. Looking forward to having those guys around for many more years.”
On A.J. Rose: “Yeah, A.J., same thing. A.J., you look at him physically, and he’s a monster. He’s getting stronger and stronger and he runs the ball very hard and he’s explosive. You know, A.J. I think has the physical tools to play right now. I think, you never who’s going to pick things up and how quickly they’re gonna do it, but A.J.’s got a bright future. Really an exceptional looking kid, physically he’s everything you want and he works very hard. So, again, very, very happy to have him for a lot of years around here.”
On if Matt Elam will be back next week and if there’s an update on when Drew Barker will be reevaluated: “Yes. Matt Elam, we do expect him to be back. I would expect him to be back by the Mississippi State game. If he doesn’t have any setbacks and looks like that is going to happen. Or it has to this point. He’s progressing and getting better and better so we’ll see moving forward here in the next week and a half. And with Drew, it’s a touch too early for that right now. I think we’re in that period as you mentioned. We’ll evaluate him again. We evaluate him every day and looking at him, checking on him and working with him every day. He’s in there getting rehab so we’ll see how it goes in the next week or two. I think he is getting better but we have been cautious with him and hopefully we can continue to do that and hopefully he’ll feel stronger and stronger. So, you know, it’s still, there hasn’t been anything that’s changed. Let’s put it that way. He’s still week-to-week. We have no plans of playing him in the Mississippi State game. After that we’ll evaluate him week-to-week.”