Meeting with the media after the first session of Tuesday’s two-a-day, head
coach David Shaw highlighted several players who have distinguished themselves in fall camp,
and talked about the team’s progress over the past week and a half.
What were the highlights of this morning’s practice?
David Shaw: The tempo. It was almost surprising, because we as coaches were ready to
come out and crack the whip a little bit because of yesterday’s subpar effort. But gosh, today
guys came out, they were running from the beginning. With the execution, there are still a lot of
things we have to correct, but we started with the basics, which is what we do—we run fast, run
hard and be physical. That was there today.
Anybody in particular stand out?
DS: Levine Toilolo was very, very good today. David DeCastro…was especially good, made
some huge blocks today.
How are some of the battles going, like at center and right tackle?
DS: Every time it looks like there’s going to be some clarity it gets murky again. Sam
[Schwartzstein] has had a good camp, and we want him to be great. He’s got the edge at center,
but we need him to be perfect. He’s not quite there yet, but he’s working at it.
How are the exchanges in general?
DS: The center-quarterback exchange? That’s been good. We always get all the reps with all
the quarterbacks and all the centers, so we have some uniformity. That hasn’t been an issue at
all. It’s just making the calls and getting everything right in the middle of our offense, which is
where our heartbeat is.
How about the one inside backer spot and the one outside backer spot?
DS: There’s still competition at the inside backer spot. Max Bergen, being a veteran, kind
of has the edge, just knowing what to do and lining up with all the calls. James Vaughters has
showed some flashes, A.J. Tarpley has done well, and Joe Hemschoot has done very well also.
Max has the edge there, because more than anything else we need guys that don’t make mistakes
and he’s doing really well there.
How about wide receiver opposite of Chris [Owusu]?
DS: Griff Whalen has had the best camp of his career. He’s been outstanding—Griff has
done very, very well. Drew Terrell has been good. Ty Montgomery has stepped up and made
some plays. We feel really good about that position, but Griff right now is playing great.
What will it take to change the pecking order at running back? Stepfan Taylor, Tyler Gaffney, Anthony Wilkerson, Jeremy Stewart—is it that order?
DS: The only pecking order we have is that Stepfan is on top. Beyond that, really it depends
on what play we’re going to run…Two days ago, Jeremy Stewart had an unbelievable day.
The day before that, Gaffney broke like five tackles on two runs, and then today during the live
period Anthony Wilkerson ran over two guys and sprinted into the end zone. They’re all so good
that we don’t look at them as a 1-2-3-4. We look at them as, “How can we get Gaffney the ball,
how can we get Jeremy Stewart the ball, how can we get Anthony the ball.”
Aside from double handoffs on one play, it’s going to be a little difficult, isn’t it?
DS: Well, the thing is, we can use them in a variety of ways. As we’ve shown, we’ll kick
guys out of the backfield, we’ll use them in the passing game, use them in protections — certain
guys are better at certain types of protections…We can mix and match what guys do well, and
make sure they get a chance to do that on game day.
What about right tackle? How’s that going?
DS: It’s going great. That’s the position right now, that’s the key position. It’s the same three
culprits — they’ve looked good and then not looked as good and then looked good again. Right
now we need some consistency there, somebody who’s going to play well but also do everything
Pretty much an even rotation from Mabry, Flemming and Yankey?
How about quarterback beyond Andrew Luck? What are you seeing?
DS: Just like the other day. Brett Nottingham has really made some big strides. He’s
probably been the surprise of the camp. He’s throwing the ball well, he’s showing command of
the offense—he’s worked himself into the rotation with Robbie [Picazo] and Josh Nunes.
Has he gotten to be on a par with those two guys?
DS: Absolutely. There’s no drop off now where he goes with the threes. He’s rotating in
with the twos. Each of those guys get a couple shots with the ones, too, and they’ve all done a
great job there.
How about kicker?
DS: Jordan Williamson. I haven’t made it necessarily public or anything, but I’d be surprised
if he’s not the guy. He’s done very well in camp…We want the competition to go through
training camp, but he’s shown great maturity and great consistency, he’s doing a really good job.
And at tight end? Toilolo has played so well, is he the number one guy?
DS: It’s hard to say. It’s similar to the running back position, because it just depends on
what play we want. He’s almost back to where he was at the beginning of training camp last
year, which was dominant. He’s really good. [Zach] Ertz has had his best camp, he’s been
phenomenal. [Coby] Fleener always makes big plays. So for us, once again it’s just situational.
What are we going to ask the tight end to do, and for that specific play who’s the best guy for
that job. Just like the running backs, it allows us to keep those guys fresh and keep them all in the
game plan, but ultimately we know that we can put three big guys in different places.
Defensive line, you have Masifilo coming back. How are the other two positions?
DS: Terrence Stephens has really come to camp in shape, he’s getting penetration and
he’s being physical. He’s doing a good job. Henry Anderson has made some plays, which has
been exciting, for a young guy to finally start showing he’s got some ability. He’s got size and
strength. Those two guys have really shown us they’re ready to play.
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