It's finally time for football! We wanted to cover Skip's press conference live for you yesterday and let you chat with us, but unfortunately we didn't find out about the timing and the ability to watch it on BullsCast until the very last minute. (You can watch the archived opening of the press conference on the widget along the right-hand side of our homepage.) Instead let's hit the highlights in case you missed them:
- There are some new walk-ons, and a few players won't be reporting to camp. The most notable departures or non-arrivals are probably Spencer Boyd, who transferred in from Notre Dame and had several off-the-field issues; Stephen Bravo-Brown, who emerged briefly early in the 2010 season when seemingly every receiver got hurt; and Jarvis McCall, the only casualty from the 2012 recruiting class (presumably because of academic issues). And really he's just a semi-casualty, because Skip suggested that Jarvis would enroll in January.
- Also Jordan Duval, who is accused of stealing another student's iPhone, is still suspended from the team. Duval is a walk-on receiver.
- Only Anthony Hill is expected to not be available when the games start as he recovers from his torn ACL in spring practice. Cory Grissom should be ready to go for Chattanooga after breaking his ankle. Everyone else is healthy.
- Skip peeled off all the crazy offensive line names without a hitch, like Thor Jozwiak and Brynjar Gudmudsson, and then he almost called Demi Thompson "Demi Moore" again. Someone should ask him how many times he's watched "About Last Night..."
- Listening to the entire 12 minutes before he started taking questions (that part isn't archived on BullsCast), the most obvious focal point for Holtz was overall depth. There are 15 returning starters, many at key positions on the field. While this is an experienced team at the top of the depth chart, he was interested and at times concerned about the backups at some positions, especially at quarterback. He didn't feel like Matt Floyd or Bobby Eveld were playing well enough in spring that they would be OK if B.J. Daniels got hurt again. On the other hand, he seems to like his depth on the offensive line and at linebacker.
- Still no word on a waiver for Aaron Lynch to play this season. Just a guess, but I figure he would have been given the green light by now if it was going to happen.
- It sounds like there will be some scholarships to spare this season, so a few walk-ons may be promoted to scholarship players. Ernie Tabuteau is likely going to get one. Maybe Mattias Ciabatti if he wins the punting job?
- Interesting note from Michael Manganello, who covered the presser for the Tribune. Holtz has delegated some of the special teams responsibilities to other assistant coaches. I don't know what the specifics of that might be, maybe technique or things like blocking kicks, but it won't all be on Vernon Hargreaves's shoulders this year. Skip specifically mentioned special teams as something they could make a big improvement on from last year.
This must have been a separate interview that Joey Johnston did with Skip because Joey was covering the Rays yesterday, but there were two things in here that interested me. First, I'm sorry to hear that Holtz is not a regular reader of this site. And second, the last thing he said, after talking about how the stress of last season got to him and his team:
"Look, if we build it the right way and we graduate our players and we have good people and we do everything we can and we still don't win and I'm let go here, I can live with myself because we did it the right way. I believe we are doing it the right way. And I believe we're going to win."
I'm not going to go all national columnist here and get on my soapbox about Doing Things The Right Way, but it would be kind of sad if it didn't work out. Hopefully we don't have to consider that possibility.