Miami coach Don Treadwell's comments at MAC Media Day
First up, here is my conversation with Miami coach Don Treadwell:
One big question is in replacing standout quarterback Zac Dysert. Austin Boucher played extensively in 2010 when Dysert was injured, but not much since then. What does Austin bring to the table?
"One big thing, and you touched on it, is that he has been in the fire before. That's huge. You can only do so much simulating game day experience. So to have a guy that has been in the fire and has been successful in leading the team, that is a huge benefit for us. That's not the norm when you lose a guy who has played quite a bit like Zac Dysert. Austin has always been a factor. I always tell people one of the unique things about him that most people don't know is that's he's always been a leader behind the scenes in the last couple years that I've been here. Now he has an opportunity more at the forefront to do what he has always been capable of doing. He's excited to do that and we're excited about that as a staff."
Losing Nick Harwell is a big loss at wide receiver. How do you go about replacing that production?
"We haven't dwelled much on losing him per se, but we've looked at who is currently on the roster and how we are going to continue to improve in what we do. And we have some other players who are returning in those areas, so we'll make the most of it."
It looks as though you are going to have a bigger, stronger offensive line. Is that the case?
"Some of our guys have really developed more physically and I think that's huge. We've had a couple years to really evaluate what our needs were on our offensive line and we've tried to address that."
It has to be tough in that first year or two to really develop your own program.
"That's the challenge. There is a lot of evaluation going on. That is from year to year, but certainly when you first get there there is quite a bit to evaluate as you can imagine."
Defensively was where your team had its biggest struggles in 2012. Where do you see the team getting better on that side of the ball?
"We've made it really simple. Coming out of last year, we had about two or three things that we focused on. Offensively, we needed to be more balanced which means we needed to run the football more effectively. That's been an emphasis. And on defensive, stopping the run. I think if you look at statistics, if you finish in the upper echelon of your conference stopping the run you are giving yourself a chance to win. So those have been really a couple key points that we've focused on."
What are your thoughts on your defensive line situation and do you see improvements in that area?
"We're very fortunate to have a good mix of returning talent and young guys there. One of our mainstays in Austin Brown is back in the middle. It's his final year. Wes Williams is back anchoring on the edge. It's his senior year. So you've got a veteran core of players who have played a lot of football and been productive. We've mixed in some young guys who got some game experience last year. So we had a couple true freshmen who played last year, where now hopefully they are more comfortable in their roles."
When you think of Miami, you think of linebackers. What do you see there?
"That's an area we've grown at. We were pretty young last year. You take away the one true veteran in Chris Wade who led us in tackles last year and we were very young. The other two linebackers were true freshmen who started. Seeing that transition from a wide-eyed true freshman to taking a deep breath and becoming comfortable, that will make a huge difference as we turn the corner here with our football program. That will help us."
What are your thoughts as a coach, just in terms of having been in this program for a while now?
"That's always exciting. The two years I have been here have felt like two months. I'm just so excited to have been given this opportunity to impact a program that has been so special to me ever since I was a player. We are able to share those life stories with our current players about the significance of the where the block 'M' on their helmet comes from. So we've tried to lay a foundation we're very proud of and when you are laboring well, the harvest is right around the corner as they say."
It seems as though there isn't another conference in the country that is so competitive from No. 1 through 13. Why is that?
"I don't know if it's as much a question of why, but more in terms of each team in our conference maximizing what they have. Recruiting nowadays is different than it was 20 years ago. Players are so much more in front of us now. You just push a button and there are so many different things you can view. We aren't lugging a suitcase around for a month now trying to find the next-best player. You can push a button and at least get that initial feel for where the players are. It's changed our job because it's so much more expansive now. The upgrades and the things that are available have served coaches very well. Coaches that have taken advantage of that are bringing in players that you see that really help upgrade your program. It makes a difference."
Is this league better than when you played in it?
"I don't know if you can say better because it's just different. These guys would think those were the prehistoric days, like we wore leather helmets and such. And that was just 30 years ago. So things have changed, but it's exciting. As you go forward, you continue to evolve."