Villanova.com caught up with Head Coach Andy Talley following the first full-pads workout for the football team as they ramp up for the 2010 season. We've copied the transcript below for your reading pleasure.
It must feel good out here now that the rain has stopped, especially getting a break from the extreme heat the last few days.
"I thought we really could use the break that we got today because it was starting to get pretty hot for the players. The heat that we have dealt with this week just wears you out over time. The weather has been very tough and we caught a nice break today."
How have the first few days of practice compared to the last few years with this group of players, just in terms of having to deal with the heat and work through that?
"I would say this has been the hottest it has ever been when we have started camp, especially because we have the new turf on the field. It has been hotter than I can ever remember it."
More from Coach Talley after The Jump...
All weather issues aside, what have you been seeing from the players so far? How do you feel about the first few days of practice?
"I really like what I am seeing. Everyone came out ready to practice hard and the enthusiasm has been great. The weather slowed us down a little bit; that showed itself today in our scrimmage where I didn't think we were as crisp as I would normally like it. But that can be attributed to the weather being so hot. What I have seen from the returning players is that they have moved on from last year. I also really like the freshmen so far. I like their attitude and it looks like we have some pretty good athletes in the freshman class."
Coming off a national championship, it is more important than ever for the team to be able to turn the page and focus on a new season. Is there anything in particular the players need to do in order to make that happen?
"I don't know that there is something specific that has to happen. We don't talk about last year. Nothing has been said about it. My sense is that the players have pretty much been, like I am, interested in the chemistry of the football team and in replacing the seniors that are gone. We also want to see the freshmen adjust to what we are doing. This team has really good leadership in our senior class and those are the two things we have our eye on, the leadership and the chemistry. Those are the things we don't know about yet, and that we have to find out through the preseason."
One of the nice things about having so many players back is that you maybe get a break from needing them to learn how to play together. A lot of the returning starters are used to being on the same fieldwith each other. Does that make practices go a little smoother?
"That does make it easier, particularly because we have a fair amount of returners on both sides of the ball. It gives us the chance to work on solidifying some of the positions have been vacated, like defensively where we lost Ross Ventrone. We want to get Ronnie Akins ready to get back there and make calls and give him a few more reps. We have a few positions like that but the big thing for us now is to develop some depth and find out what freshmen can help us this year. That will probably happen mostly on special teams but it is a little early to tell at his point. We are looking to see if any of the freshmen can do what Dan Shirey did last year, to come in and start as a freshman."
It has to be a challenge for the freshmen to come into a program that not only has had so much success, and is coming off a national championship, but still has so many veteran pieces in place from the last few years.
"The challenge for the freshmen is to come in here and learn how to work hard, and to learn our work ethic and know that there is a very high expectation level. Some of them haven't gotten that yet, and they are in the process of recognizing that the way they did things prior to coming here aren't good enough. They have to step it up and pick it up a little bit. It is a learning process through the preseason, especially given the heat we have had. There is a work ethic and a toughness that has to come."
In a lot of ways the early part of preseason camp is the toughest part of the season, just in terms of the players having to be the most disciplined about practice and getting their reps in without having the preparation of getting ready for a game or a specific opponent.
"For the players the biggest challenge they face during preseason is how to handle the mental monotony of not preparing for a game and just going through practice after practice. That is tough, there is no question about that. We do what we can to try and break the practices up a little bit. We have some fun things that we do, from going to a Philadelphia Phillies game to having a bowling tournament. We try to do things like that to make sure that even with the rigors of practicing every day that the experience is still a fun one."