August 14, 2009

Q & A With Coaches: Part One - Grable

Today is the first installment of an eight-part question and answer series previewing the 2009 football team at Northern Colorado. Each day a position coach will be asked four-five questions breaking down what's happened so far in camp and what to expect in the future.

The series starts with the longest tenured coach on staff in running backs/fullbacks coach Keith Grable. He begins his ninth season after playing for the Bears in the late 90s.

Question: Only DC Wilson returns from last year's running backs that saw game action. How has that changed the way you have approached this fall camp, if at all?

KG: We've got a lot of new guys, we're just trying to get them in right away. They've been studying hard, learning the playbook. We don't have a lot of stuff that goes in late in camp, so we're trying to cram them early, get them used to the system and get those young guys reps. Most of those young guys other than (freshman Josh) Morton, they were here in the spring which is good so we're really working on them fine tuning their skills, assignments and techniques. They're doing a good job with that.

Q: Several of the running backs have had a strong camp thus far. If there was a game tomorrow, who would be the starter and why?

KG: Clearly, (junior) Andre Harris. The kid came in, he's a big back back there. He brings a big presence. Right now, I think he's leading the backs with big plays. We chart that every practice. (Freshman John) Burnley is a close second, (sophomore Jhamele) Robinson's in there and DC's also doing a good job, he's a solid guy and has been in the program for three years. If we had a game tomorrow, I think Harris would get the nod as the starter.

Q: What is the biggest strength of the running backs as a whole?

KG: That's hard to say, they're each individuals and they each have different styles. Obviously, Andre Harris is a big back with good speed. DC's got a little bit of quickness, can make people miss (tackles). Burnley's got great speed, great vision. I think each of them brings something different, which is probably the strength of our group; each guy's got a different look to them.

Q: What is the most important improvement they can make before the season opener at Kansas?

KG: Getting in shape. Obviously, we're out here running everyday. Another thing is understanding the situations. A big goal of ours this fall is defensive identification, 100 percent blitz recognition and understanding the blocking schemes up front. DC has a pretty good handle on it, he's been in the system the longest. The younger players are picking it up quick. The number one thing is identifying the defense.

Q: What is your favorite memory of this camp to date?

KG: My favorite part so far is probably with a different group, with the wide receivers. Those young guys we've got, they're really stepping up and making plays. I kind of gave them the nickname of Playmakers ‘R Us. After every practice we tell them we reload the shelves with plays.