COACH SPAZIANI: Hello, everybody. We're excited. Obviously we got our opener coming here Saturday. The team is getting ready. Staff is excited. The fans are excited. We're getting ready to go. With that, let's have the questions.
Q. Coach, I wanted to get your thoughts on the challenges of opening the league game? When teams play lesser opponents in their openers they're able to hold back things strategically. In a conference game, I assume you need to have your full playbook available. Is that true? Does that put you at a disadvantage to show everything early?
COACH SPAZIANI: There's a couple layers to that question.
As far as opening with a conference opponent, here is the way I feel about it. The playing field is the same for both of us. Practice times are the same. We're opening. You got to play them sometime, so might as well play them now. Doesn't matter to me.
As far as the playbook goes, most teams put in a playbook in pre‑season. You use what you need to use as the games go on. I don't think anybody holds back anything.
As far as easier opponents, I always get a kick out of that one, because when you start the season the bad teams don't know they're bad teams (laughter).
Q. What is your greatest challenge heading into this fall season?
COACH SPAZIANI: It's getting our first victory. Two hardest victories you need to get in the season is your first one and your last one. Obviously this is the first challenge for us. The sooner you can get some confidence and a win under your belt, the better off you are as a football team.
That's the biggest challenge, just getting off on the right foot and getting that victory as soon as possible.
Q. Which player is flying under the radar that has the most talent on the team?
COACH SPAZIANI: We have a lot of players with a lot of talent. Alex Amidon has had a very good pre‑season for us. It's his third year coming in. We had to play him as a true freshman. It's about the time guys mature in programs. It's about time for Alex to mature and show what he can do.
We're anxious to see how it all plays out. He has had a great pre‑season and I don't think many people are talking about Alex.
Q. To have the result you had against Miami last year, what are the keys to having success on Saturday?
COACH SPAZIANI: People have brought that up a lot. Last year is last year. It's totally different circumstances, totally different mindset by both teams. So once again, we're happy to have that victory, but there's little that can be gleaned from it other than we know we played against them.
We have to be able to expect the unexpected and play with the intensity and the enthusiasm that we're going to need for the whole year. We're the type of team, we certainly have to be smart and we have to be intense in order for us to have a chance to play against athletes and speed like this.
Q. What you looking to learn from your team in this first game?
COACH SPAZIANI: To see how we progressed, to see if we have that mental toughness that we think we have, that we've shown in practices. Coming off of last year, spring practice, summer practice, now we have to go out and do it in a game. There's nothing like a game to show where you're at mentally.
Q. Frank, I notice that Finch wasn't on the depth chart. I know you've had some injuries you had to deal with with all your runningbacks. How is your depth looking with the guys you do have available to you at running back against Miami?
COACH SPAZIANI: Well, right now we have Dre and Tahj will be there. Remains to be seen after that.
Q. Finch is out for the game?
COACH SPAZIANI: That hasn't been determined yet.
Q. I know you go back with Al a long time. Do you think this year is going to be more like a normal football season?
COACH SPAZIANI: Go back with Al, I tried to recruit him. I hate to admit that (laughter).
Yeah, once again, I'm not in their locker room. But last year obviously was a big transition for them, all the circumstances swirling around everything that was going on down there. They've had time to settle in a little bit. They understand their roles now, what they're doing, where they're going. I think they'll be a lot different football team and program.
Q. When you saw each other at the coaches meetings, Media Day, did it come up at all, because of the history you two share? Did you ever talk to him about how he dealt with it? He called it a 19‑month storm.
COACH SPAZIANI: We haven't delved into that with any depth. Just as friends, we've made comments maybe. But never had a big discussion about philosophies on it, no.
Q. I wanted to check in on the tight end situation. Last I read, didn't sound like you found a starter to replace Chris.
COACH SPAZIANI: Right, we haven't. We'll have a starter at the tight end position.
Q. Can you tell me about who is in the running for it, what the competition has been like, how confident you are in those guys?
COACH SPAZIANI: We've had to improvise, rely on the talents that we have here, the coaches that are putting the offense together. We have C.J. Parsons, Miller, Bowen. We have names and different ways to deal with it. That's just how we'll handle it. We'll have to see how the game unfolds.
Q. Coach, when (indiscernible) first came out, you said you would take five days and get reevaluated. Are you thinking he may be available, whatever the injury is, maybe it's developed into something more serious?
COACH SPAZIANI: He's getting better. I didn't mean to be vague about it. We just don't know exactly what his status is. Every day he gets better. We'll go out to the practice field today. Of course, it's Wednesday. We'll see where he's at, how much he can do, how much we can use him or not use him, then we'll make a decision after that. Certainly when we have to declare our injury situation, we'll update everybody on that.
But he's going to be better. Whether he's going to be better today, tomorrow, Saturday or next Monday, we have to see.
Q. Coming into this pre‑season, when the depth chart came out, there were a lot of different names in different spots. As a coach, what was it like as far as how wide open the team was?
COACH SPAZIANI: Well, you know, first of all, we always say this. No jersey (indiscernible) to anybody, but certainly some guys have an inside track.
We've had a couple injuries in the pre‑season, these are not excuses, we've had to manage our way through those problems. That's why the depth chart has fluctuated a little bit. It's certainly an organizational thing. The last few days we've settled in on where we're at. Guys have come back. We have a better feel last few days of where we're at. That should solidify itself by tomorrow, I'm sure.
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