The Big East held the first of its weekly coaches teleconferences today. With the football season about to kickoff on Thursday night and continuing through Sunday, here are the highlights from each of the coaches. You can listen to each coach's portion here.
- Butch Jones - Jones said he is anxious to see his team get out on the field and to see how well they handle adversity as compared to last season. He's optimistic about the team with so many players back that have experience, but he added, "We can't just be older, we've got to get better." Jones said the team is healthy headed into Saturday's game against Austin Peay, and he confirmed that former West Virginia offensive line coach Dave Johnson has joined his staff. Jones stated eight true freshmen are expected to play, though he did not say which ones.
- Doug Marrone - Marrone noted that the team is just now getting to practice at full strength after having a number of players out in portions of fall camp with injuries. He did deliver some good news that both safeties Phillip and Shamarko Thomas are full speed and will be ready to go. Marrone insisted that the team's goal has to be to win the Big East. He also reminded the call that Syracuse is 0-8 at home, and 1-12 overall against the ACC since 1998.
- Skip Holtz - Holtz once again reminded the media that Saturday's games is a matchup of the youngest BCS program vs. the nation's most storied. He said that the team has had some experience with large road venues like Florida and Florida State, so Notre Dame is not uniquely challenging in that regard. The team is healthy and he feels that there is a buzz on campus for this opening game and for the team in general in 2011.
- Greg Schiano - Schiano said its his goal for this team to get back to what he called "Rutgers football", which he said is a physical, hard-working, blue-collar style of play. In that regard he said that freshman phenom Savon Huggins and sophomore Jeremy Deering will see plenty of playing time this year at running back. Schiano said he is concerned with the relative inexperience of the defense, especially considering that many of the returning players are now working at new positions.
- Charlie Strong - Strong confirmed that former Florida defensive back Adrian Bushell has enrolled and is eligible to play this year, but, that he has only been in town a few days and will not be ready to play against Murray State on Thursday night. Strong also said center Mario Benavides, defensive end BJ Butler, and freshman running back Corvin Lamb will miss the opener with injuries. Strong said all three quarterbacks will play, but Will Stein will start and see most of the action. Overall, Strong said this is a young team, with only 14 seniors (only nine that play) that is "searching for an identity."
- Todd Graham - Only Dan Mason will miss the opener with Buffalo due to injury. Graham said he is most interested in seeing how the team handles adversity and the unpredictable things that happen in a football game. He said his offensive philosophy is guided by the things he hated to defend as a defensive coach, and that his affinity for the no-huddle offense dates back to a 1993 matchup in Division II football against a young Rich Rodriguez. He feels the most important aspect in installing the no-huddle offense is getting the players used to the tempo.
- Dana Holgorsen - Holgorsen said the players are familiar with Marshall and he is too from his matchups with them when he was at Houston. Holgorsen said if the games were today, Pat Eger would start at right tackle. He added that any depth chart position is a "what have you done for me lately" situation, so that could change. He reiterated that all three freshmen running backs will play and that there is no true starter for that position yet. Holgorsen said Julian Miller is back to practicing after spending a week in a red non-contact jersey and should be good to go by Sunday's kickoff with Marshall.
- Paul Pasqualoni - Pasqualoni was not able to join the conference due to the issues with hurricane Irene.