Opening statement and outlook of the team for the upcoming season:
"Like everybody else I think we're excited to kick things off and start thinking about football. We are looking at the progress our kids made in the offseason program and its good to get some kids back on campus and start the process. We have the chance to be a pretty solid football team. We have a lot of kids back at virtually all the positions. I think we have as good a chance as anyone else to be a pretty solid football team and we've got to put it all together. We'll have to identify what our young guys can do and then we've got to put them in a position to make some plays and really take advantage of their athleticism. It's an exciting time, we all have some question marks, we all have some depth issues, and now it's just a case of sorting this all out."
On the offense:
"If you look at us on offense, I think it starts with the quarterback position. Its always nice when you have a quarterback with extensive experience. Billy Ragone has a chance to be a special player with his ability to throw and run the ball. Our receiver corps I think will be very, very strong. Conner Scott, who was hurt all last year, has returned. He was our best wide reciever last year and got hurt in preseason. We have him with Joe Holder and Ryan Mitchell, and I think we have the makings of a pretty good wide receiver corps. We turn four out of five kids on the offensive line so I think that has a chance to be a solid unit led by Joe Bonadies, a right tackle. When you throw in the situation at running back with Brandon Colavita, Jeff Jack and Lyle Marsh all returning and Greg Schuster returning at fullback, and Ryan Allen and Robert Gawlas, coming back from injury at tight end, I think we have the makings of a pretty solid offensive team."
On the defense:
"Defensively, we graduated some terrific players but we have some pretty good ones coming back. Brandon Copeland is the ring leader up front. He is, I think, one of the better defensive lineman in our league. He can both defend the run and pressure the quarterback for us. Taylor Brown returns after a really good junior year and we have a solid group of players up front who gained a lot of experience last year. Obviously losing Eric Rask is a big blow, he was a premier inside linebacker in this league, but we have enough experience with a healthy Steve Lias, Daniel Davis, David Park and Joey Grosso that I think we'll be pretty solid in that department. We get most of our secondary returning. We were pretty snakebitten there last year with some injuries and were forced into playing some young kids and hopefully the advantage for us this year is that now they're experienced kids. Overall, it's still a pretty young unit. We only have four or five seniors within the whole group. But we're athletic and our ability to mold them and get them to play with some cohesion and confidence and maturity will really tell the tale of how good of a defensive team we are."
Is there a difference in mindset without last year's pressure of a three-peat?
"I think our focus is much better, our work ethic is much better, I just think our attention to detail is much better. Coming off a year where we graduated 33 seniors, it was probably unrealistic to think that we were going to go and not have any snags along the way. Unfortunately, we really got hit by some injuries and we didn't react to them as well as I had hoped or were capable of. It was a learning experience for us and a great reminder of how fragile everything in this league actually is and how hard you have to work. It was a life lesson starting with me on down and I think our kids really went after the offseason program and I see them now as being excited and motivated and focused. Hopefully that translates to getting things back on track.
What's the status of Lyle Marsh heading into his senior season?
"Lyle was cleared to play in the spring and he responded really well to spring workouts. We were cautious with him and didn't let him go all-out for 12 practices but we did put him in some contact scenarios. He's such a positive kid that it's great to have him out there. He brings an energy and a great deal of versatility to our offense. Each of the last two seasons, we've lost him to injuries early in the year in non-league games and both times they were season-ending injuries. We are a deeper, more versatile, better team with Lyle than we are without him. We're hopeful that he can take the improvements he made in the spring into the fall and stay healthy the entire year because he's obviously a talented kid."
On Billy Ragone’s improvement at quarterback…
“I think he had a pretty solid year last year. His numbers improved and I don’t think we played well around him, but he improved. He wasn’t as dynamic of a runner as he was the year before, but I think you can kind of see the maturity and his understanding of the leadership role, and just his improvement overall as a quarterback, in terms of throwing and in terms of being the field general. He’s worked very hard and he’s come back on campus. He looks good physically. He’s coming off a really good spring. He’s a very dynamic athlete so he gives you some of those intangibles and that ability to kind of hurt you not only throwing the ball but also running the ball. And he’s a kid now that has a lot of snaps under his belt so we’re optimistic that he can become one of the better, if not the best, quarterback in the league. Now, we just have to get some consistency from him and out of the players around him."
On the recent coaching changes and the impact on the Ivy League…
“It keeps you on your toes because every time there is a coaching change there is some newness and a little bit different philosophical approach so you go into every season a little guarded to what is going to happen at that school. You kind of see how Cornell has gone under (Austin) Kent and how wide open they’ve become. You see the up-tempo at Princeton and how that dynamic causes a little bit of heartache. And I’m sure Pete (Mangurian) is going to bring in a system, I remember from him being at Cornell, which was very difficult to defend and his ability to release 4 and 5 and commit to throwing the ball and doing some of that other stuff. So, it presents some challenges. There’s always that unknown factor. What’s going to be new? What’s going to be different? What are we going to have to adjust to? This is all in addition to the obvious things they bring in like the renewed optimism, renewed hope, renewed energy, renewed focus and everything else. The coaches that have come in have all done terrific jobs. They’re all quality people. I think it’s a great reflection on these institutions that they are able to attract those kind of candidates and I think it makes the league much stronger than it probably previously has been. It makes it much a more difficult league to coach in because you have so many different philosophical approaches."
On how his coaching style has changed through the years…
“You like to think as you get older, you get a little smarter. I don’t think I’ve changed my personality. Again, echoing what Tim (Murphy) was saying, you are who you are. Once you start changing that, you’re in a little bit of trouble. We’re a pretty demanding, pretty hard and physical and that’s kind of the foundation of how we recruit and how we get our kids to play and everything else. But, I also think you look at things a little bit differently and hopefully with a little bit of wisdom and guidance from similar situations in the past. We haven’t changed radically in the type of kids that we want and how we coach them and what we demand from them. Hopefully, we can see things a little clearer than we did 10 or 15 years ago.”
On Cameron Countryman and if there is a need to get him on the field immediately…
“I think we looked at him and we’re obviously delighted to have him. He was a great high school player and has tremendous versatility not only as a receiver but also as a returner. He’s an explosive player and hopefully can stretch the field for us. We’re going to give him an opportunity to get on the field. It’s going to be up to him as to whether he can take that next step as quickly as we hope he can. It’s really going to be up to him. We think we recruited well and we’re certainly pleased to have him and hopefully he can take that next step quickly and can provide that game breaking ability we’re all looking for.”
On which freshman could be an immediate impact player…
“It’s always tough to look into the crystal ball. Overall, we’re very happy with our incoming class. We were as selective as we’ve ever been on the recruiting front and we are the beneficiary of some tremendous things facility-wise. So, I think the school presents itself as well as it ever has. And, we like to think we have kids who will continue to give us some opportunities to win and to pick is difficult. No one has a crystal ball. We are very happy with the kids that we have. They have a chance to be a pretty special group if we can keep them all together and keep them motivated.”