I made it to CMU's post-scrimmage Saturday (the actual scrimmage was closed to media), but due to many other work responsibilities getting in the way along with family being in town I haven't had the chance to sit down and transcribe it.
As we all know, the spring game is April 13 at 1 p.m. and this is the last week of preparation as it closes in. I spoke with head coach Dan Enos about where his team is at right now, QB coach Morris Watts about that battle, and Jerry Harris on his return from a knee injury.
On the quarterback battle:
"It's pretty even. A lot of good going on from a lot of different people. It's too early to tell, but they're doing well. Cody Kater in particular is looking very, very good."
On Cody Kater in particular:
"His intangibles and grasp of the offense. He's made plays when we've asked him to make plays. He's done that. Alex (Niznak), A.J. (Westendorp), and Coop (Cooper Rush) have too. We'll have to look at the video, but I think Cody had another really solid day today."
On the progression of the rest of the team:
"I'll tell you what Nate, it's been a great spring. Great enthusiasm, great effort. It's been unbelievable. The coaches are doing a great job. Everybody that has been here to practice whether it's high school coaches, players, some of the guys that come every day have noticed it and said it too. There is great chemistry and it's very, very positive. A lot of good competition and we're very excited about this team."
On the depth differences from his first year to this year:
"Our first spring, we had one tight end and two quarterbacks and we had to cancel a practice because we didn't have enough wide receivers to practice. So we're way ahead of that obviously as far as that goes. We have two full D-lines, two full O-lines, we have two sets of receivers with spares, we have running backs, we have five quarterbacks. We're really functioning like a football program right now and it's paying dividends because we're practicing with that. It's been good."
On a couple players that have switched positions:
"Maurice (Shoemaker-Gilmore) has been slowed down a little with a hamstring. Deon Butler has been outstanding at tight end. The change has been very good for him. He definitely blocks well enough for that position. He's extremely tough. Your mental approach to that position in blocking, 80 percent of it is how you approach it mentally. He's there. He has to gain some weight. He's got to gain some weight. He's about 228 right now and we need to get him to 238. But running the routes, ball skills, the toughness. That's all there. We just need to get him a little more lead in his pencil."
On his thoughts on the fast approaching spring game:
"I'm looking forward to that and staying healthy this week. Hopefully we can do that and sharpen up with two more good practices. We're just going to try and have some fun Saturday."
On Jerry Harris:
"He's looking good. He's coming off that knee, so he's been a little rusty in there. But he provides speed. Him and Titus (Davis) can really stretch it. Jerry provides that and he provides leadership. We're excited to have him back. He's a great kid and we're excited for him."
On the evenness of the quarterback battle:
"It's even. It's tied. Which is good because what you need at the point we are now without having a returning starter at quarterback, we need all those guys going into the summer battling. So everyone is working their fannies off all summer long. If I'm a guessing guy, it's probably going to go that way into the fall for a while because they're that close right now. They each have their days and they're all improving pretty well. Still a thing we need to get is a little more consistency, which happens with young quarterbacks. I think we're pleased with where we are with them, but eventually hopefully somebody jumps out of the crowd to become the guy. And they will. But they're all battling right now and have kept it close the whole spring. Sometimes you'd say that's not what you want, sometimes you'd say that's good. I think in our situation the way it is right now and the fact that nobody's been the man, it's good that it's close because it puts a lot of pressure on each guy to really work over the course of the summer."
On knowing that perhaps three or four QBs can do the job rather than just one:
"At least we'll know there will be a little bit of depth there. But the real bonus is that those guys can make a lot of gains and a lot of improvements over the summer months working together with the receivers. We can't be out there coaching them, but we've coached them all spring and they know what we want improved and what they need to work on and all that. I think it's great that they are going to be out there battling each other for the entire summer."
On what Kater might bring to the table:
Well, he has a little bit more maturity than the others just because he's been around another grade longer. And he's played. Even though it was junior college ball, he started there. I don't think it's a complete separator for him now, but I think that's the one thing he brings to the table a little bit. That he's been in those situations a little bit more. But all of them are throwing the ball really well and bringing a lot to the table at practice in terms of being competitive and that's what you want to see. Guys that want to be challenged and want to work hard every day to earn that spot. At the same time, they've been very cohesive and helping one another too. They all want to be better than the other guy every practice, but they are also guys that hang together in practice and help each other out. And really, they all have a chance to start at some point just because it is a good situation in terms of how the classes stack out and everyone having different years of eligibility left."
On how the knee is feeling:
"The knee is feeling really good right now. I think the last couple of weeks it got to 100 percent and I got it out of my head when I'm running. I'm good to go."
On the play in which he got hurt:
"It was the Michigan State game, the first kick return of the first quarter. I got hit out of bounds by the kicker. At that point when it happened, I just thought it was a minor bruise because I got up and ran off the field. A couple plays later, I was running full speed and then all of a sudden it stopped on me. The official diagnosis was a partially torn PCL."
On whether he worried he wouldn't be granted a sixth year of eligibility:
"At first, I thought I was done. But after talking to a couple coaches about the qualifications of getting a sixth year, I saw that I fit right in. They said that I had to miss two full years and I did, my freshman year and last year. So I wasn't too worried about it. I was just rehabbing and praying that the coaches would bring me back to give me a second opportunity. Very blessed."
On if he feels just as fast as before the injury:
"I feel just as fast. And actually, through my rehab I got a lot stronger. I put on 10 pounds of muscle in order to help my knee get back to normal faster. So right now I am feeling a lot quicker."
On what he sees out of the quarterback battle:
"It is pretty even. Every day those guys come to practice and it's heavy competition. There is no slacking. Coop is stepping up as a freshman. We have competition in that room. It's crazy. I've seen a lot of good things from that quarterback group."
On whether he feels even more of a leadership role with guys like Cody Wilson gone:
"Yes sir. Most definitely. As you said, Cody's gone now so I'm the only senior left. A lot of guys look up to me. They don't know it, but I look up to a lot of guys in our room too because they motivate me to bring it every day. They bring a lot of energy in that room."
On the momentum going into the fall:
"We finished the season the way we wanted to with the four-game winning streak. This year, we're looking forward to doing a lot better things."
On anything else he would like to throw in there:
"Fire up Chips 2013!"