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August 31, 2007

Q&A with coach Denny Price

Q. How would you describe the state of your program?

A: "Ask me at the end of the season. We have not had much success, but the kids played hard. Our program is on the climb with the number of young kids and the number of seniors we have. We got the turnout we wanted. We have a strong nucleus and should be competitive."

Q: How would you sum up the 2006 season?

A: "It was an uphill, downhill struggle. We struggled with turnovers and we struggled with third-and-long situations. We had 24 turnovers, a 1,300-yard passer, a 45-catch receiver and a 975-yard ground gainer. Those stats should have meant more wins."

Q: Who are your top returning skill position players?

A: "Ethan French is a fourth-year starter at quarterback and that's huge. He threw for 1,300 yards and he will be a threat to run the ball. Corey Smith is our punter and kicker who has signed to play at Alabama. He kicks off long and deep, so our defense usually sets up at the 20, which is big. His punts have hang time so we can get down on coverage. And he can hit field goals anywhere inside of 50 yards consistently, which gives us the short field to work on offense."

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Q: Who are the top returning players at these positions?

Offensive line:

A: "We have more depth there this year on the line because we have eight kids who can play all five positions. Andrew Shiley and Ryan Hayslette are back at guards and John Rickman at center. We also have Russell Dunham, Danny Longerbeam and Zach Bennett to give us more depth."

Defensive line:

A: "This year we have seven linemen going both ways. Longerbeam has fit in nicely at nose tackle. We are quick up front."

Linebacker:

A: "Andrew Clark has come along quickly. He has been benching 380 and squatting over 400."

Secondary:

A: "French, who has had three years at safety, returns and Casey Cochran will be at cornerback."

Q: Who is the one departed player who will be most difficult to replace?

A: "Ryan Trochimowicz. He had 45 catches after coming out and not playing until he was a senior. Now he's at Shepherd as a red-shirt. And Shon Jackson at tailback."

Q: Who are the "unknown" or new players who could make an impact in 2007?

A: "J.D. Daniels and Chris Stewart at tight end and Cody Petry as a running back, receiver and cornerback."

Q: What is the biggest challenge your team will face this season?

A: "To be able to make plays on third down and not turn the ball over. If we can do better there, we will be better. We have to stay healthy, too. If one kid goes down, it could cause problems."

Q: What things must this team do to improve over the 2006 season?

A: "Keep the big plays down against us and get turnovers. We have expectations that we can take the offense another step. We have to grow with the offense."

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