The Owls will kick-off thier third season under Head Coach Lane Kiffin on Saturday against Ohio State in nationally televised contest on FOX.
On Sunday, he held his weekly press teleconference. Below are the highlights from that session.
On Saturdayís Scrimmage
It was basically your Ones versus scout team guys. It was more just getting guys used to substitutions and special teams and being on the same sideline versus always being on separate sidelines. It was a little bit more organization than evaluation.
Have you decided on the starting quarterback for Saturday yet?
We have not.
Is there an update on WR (John) Mitchell?
He practiced today. Hopefully, he will play.
Is there an update on P Sebastian Riella?
He did not practice. That doesnít look good.
What was the biggest difference between year one and year two and how do you feel about your program as a whole going into year three?
Well, it went backwards from what you usually do. It had been three wins the three previous seasons. Usually you go to five and then up. It was just a collection of a lot of things. The first year everything went right. We stayed healthy, had an older quarterback and then last year, we had really significant injuries. Lost the best player on our team from a leadership standpoint and played a freshman quarterback, made a lot of mistakes. It was really how to play really good football one year and how to not the next.
How do you feel about things going into this year and what do you take away from year two?
We feel good. We still have got a lot of questions to answer. We play two premier opponents, right off the bat. So, itís not really teams you really like to be experimenting against, finding out who is going to start at certain spots, playing young kids, but it is what it is and like I said, we have to get back to playing like we did in year one.
Did you have this game circled when you found out about it just for the chance to face Coach (Urban) Meyer again?
No I didnít. I really never even thought about it that way. Just focusing on whatever season we were in at the time and the opponent that we had, so I had not thought about it that way.
Have you had any extended interaction with Coach (Ryan) Day?
I have not. I donít know that I have ever even met him actually, unless it was a long time ago on the road recruiting or something. I do not.
As far as the quarterback battle is concerned here, what can you find out or see in the next couple of days that you havenít seen in the last three or four weeks that will help you make that decision or do you know and just havenít announced it?
I would say that we probably have a very good idea, probably just want to make sure it is the right call over the next few days.
When do you intend to let the starter know?
I donít know that answer.
What are the chances that you play at least two on purpose?
I wouldnít necessarily say on purpose, but I could very easily see it happening. Not a definitive No. 1 returning starter has been named or something like that for a long time, so obviously, it is fairly close or else we would have made a decision a while back. With that being said, I can definitely see playing multiple quarterbacks.
Have you seen enough out of Javion Posey that he could play week one or is he still a few weeks away from getting used to that wide receiver role?
I think that would be hard to put a kid in that has just played wide receiver here, by the time the game (happens), that have been two weeks or something like that. And in that setting, a hundred thousand people, for a kid that hadnít played this position and played in a really small town in Alabama, I would not foresee that happening in the opener. I would think that would be a few weeks in.
How have you gone about scouting (Ohio State quarterback) Justin Fields with limited tape and what have you been able to notice?
Obviously, the spring game (tape) is out there. He did play some at Georgia, and being a national guy, we followed from high school. Obviously very talented. He can do it all. He can throw and he can run. He can give you a lot of issues.
Is prepping for Fields a little similar to prepping for Kyler (Murray) in terms of not having a lot of tape at the current school?
No, I think they are different. They are like that as far as being from another school without a ton of film, but very different players just based off of size. I donít see a lot of similarities between them.
As a general rule, how do you feel about opening up against a team like Ohio State, (like) last year you played Oklahoma in week one?
Thereís a lot of different ways to go about these things. Obviously, I didnít schedule these. These were scheduled before we got here, from the last Athletic Director (Pat Chun). I donít think it is the best idea, especially following with UCF, another team that has been a top-10 team the last two years. The format that I think is the best, because you have to make money, you canít not play these games, but you can play somebody that pays the same, because the conference pays the same for the most part. It is not that big of a difference. So, you play teams from major conferences. You just play, not necessarily, the team that year-in-and-year out is the best team in the conference. It is what it is. Iím excited for our kids to be able to go play at a place like that.
Is there a certain way that you guys practice knowing you are going to face a team like Ohio State or is it going to be practicing the same things, hoping the players can calm down if they need to?
No. There is only so much you can do. We do what everybody else does and have crowd noise at practice. We do the best we can that way. There is always some time getting used to it. Your hope is with an early kickoff it is not quite as loud early on as a night game. Hopefully, they will arrive a little late and be nice to us.
You guys are going to play one of the better running backs in the country in J.K. Dobbins in week one. How do you guys game plan for him knowing he has two seasons where he has run for 1,000 yards and how he can beat you in so many different ways?
There is no way to practice that. He is unique, probably a first-round pick running back. Like you said, (he) can do it all. You have to gang tackle him and you have to get everyone to the ball. It is the only thing you can do.