The University of South Alabama football team hosted media day on Friday, Aug. 10 where players and coaches fielded questions from the media about the upcoming season. Head coach Steve Campbell said they are not in a rush to declare a starter quarterback between Cephus Johnson, Cole Garvin and Evan Orth.
“All three of them are doing really well,” Campbell said. “Cephus is doing a lot of good things, Cole has looked good through camp and Evan Orth has looked really good. All three of those guys have done a really good job. We don’t have to name a starter today, and we will get to that point soon enough.”
Campbell commented on the progress of Johnson.
“I saw Cephus make a big progression during spring training and then starting at the beginning of camp and in the last two days I have seen a good progression,” Campbell said.
Collier Smith received praise from Campbell, who called Smith a “superback” and a “throwback type of fullback.” Smith was also complimented for his versatility on offense.
Campbell named senior linebacker Bull Barge as a leader for the team.
“Talent will get you so far, but you need to have those other things that give you a chance to be great and Bull has them, that’s why he’s very valuable to our football team,” Campbell said.
Campbell said the team had a good first week of practice and attributed the players’ conditioning and the new practice facility as part of that success. Campbell also stressed the importance on focusing on the present and taking it one game at a time. “The next game of the year is the most important game of the year,” Campbell said. “The next
game is the biggest in history of man because it is the next game, and it is the only one we can really do anything about.”
Offensive coordinator Kenny Edenfield and defensive coordinator Greg Stewart also spoke at the press conference on Friday. Stewart laid out the foundation of the team’s defensive philosophy: playing hard, stopping the run,
controlling the pass, and getting the ball.
“We are not gonna be real fancy, we are gonna line up and do the same thing a lot, over and over. When the ball snaps we are gonna try to play fast,” Stewart said.
Edenfield said the team is working on progress a little at a time and echoed Campbell’s call to focus more on the now, rather than the future.
“We can’t look at the end of the year and say, ‘alright where are we gonna be at the end of the year.’” Edenfield said. “What we are thinking about now is when we come back to the meeting a little bit later today is see if we can learn from what we did today.”
Players from the offensive and the defensive also spoke at the press conference on Friday. Defensive end Sean Grayer said the team’s biggest focal point was
“For us, our biggest focal point has been to be consistent,” Grayer said. “There were times like against Troy and Arkansas State that we dominated on the defensive side of
the ball. Then there were times, like against Georgia State and Georgia Southern, where the execution wasn’t there. We need to make sure we stay consistent because we know we have the talent.”
Smith and safety Nigel Lawrence said Campbell has brought a toughness to the team and that practice has been more intense to better prepare the team for football season.
“Practice has certainly been a lot more physical than it has ever been since I have been here and I am going into my fourth year,” Smith said. “[It’s] certainly making us all better football players. We are able to on a lot more and go through a lot more. We have been working on that since February, making sure everything we do is as hard as it can possibly be so on game day it’s easy.”
Smith also said the new coaching has brightened the atmosphere and bolstered the players confidence.
“Seeing the new coaching staff, their eyes all lit up, had a great attitude and ready to be here,” Smith said. “And seeing our new coaches wanting to be here and wanting to be apart of South Football really for me and the rest of the guys, just gave us a boost.”
Deonta Moore, running back and special teams, also spoke on the addition of Campbell to USA football program.
“The whole mentality and energy in the room, especially speaking from the offense side, all our coaches coach with a lot energy,” Moore said. There is never a dull moment in practice or meeting.” Moore said that the offense was going to focus on their running game and base plays to establish a strong foundation.
As the team wraps up their summer practice, they look forward to a season packed with opponents ranked in the final top-25 polls of the 2017 season along with six schools that played in a postseason bowl game last year.
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