Do you have the final say on what combination you'll wear?
“I hope not. I don't want that pressure. I'm not sure with that many combinations you'd really (know) what to put together.”
As you start camp, are there specific groups that you want to see how they've progressed?
“I always keep a close eye on our defensive tackles and our linebackers. We've got some athletic guys in there who don't have as much experience.
“They're really the two spots where I feel we need improvement quicker than the other areas. Obviously, we've got a lot of guys back on offense. And our secondary is mature, and our ends are mature. So those will be the two spots that I watch.”
Is the first season you've gone into and thought, “If we don't reach 10 wins and a BCS bowl, it's been a disappointment?”
“Well, I don't know really how you would describe disappointment. It's funny, you hear so many things about our football team and where we're at. We don't ever want a setback here. But being productive and graduating kids and getting them to play hard and all that, and we hope the ball bounces our way in those key games.
“But if you bring a product to the table that has a chance to win, then sometimes good things are going to happen for you. If our guys really give us great effort, and I feel we're coaching hard and doing the right things, then I wouldn't ever be disappointed in the players.”
Is the best secondary you've had since becoming head coach?
“From a maturity and experience standpoint, it's by far the best since we've been here. I think we're two deep at safety and two deep at corner, and I'm not sure we've ever had that. I'm not sure we've been two deep at any position for a very long time.”
Earlier in your tenure, you used to say, “We're two recruiting classes away…,” things like that. Is it a good sign that you're not saying that anymore?
“I think we've gained some depth for the first time. Very seldom would I go out there and say that we've got everything that we need. There's other good teams in our league, and we all know that.
“In preseason polls and in certain people's attention, there's 10 or 12 teams that could win (a national championship). I think with us being in that group now, we've taken that step.
“I'd still like to have more depth at the defensive tackle spot. But if you look across the country, not anybody has the perfect case scenario anymore. Even your teams that are in the top five in the country right now, you'll see where they're at a position where they're lacking or would want more.
“We're just about in the same boat as anybody else. If we stay healthy and guys play hard, we'll have a shot at it.”