UAB Holds Annual Football Media Day

Aug. 3, 2014

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Head coach Bill Clark and nine members of the 2014 football team met with the media on Sunday in UAB's annual football media day. The squad officially reported to campus on Sunday and will begin practice on Monday morning.

Clark and the squad spoke about the start of fall camp and their final preparations for the 2014 campaign. The first-year head coach also touched on his impressions of the program heading into his inaugural campaign.

UAB will open the season at home against Troy on Saturday, Aug. 30. Kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. at Legion Field.

Head Coach Bill Clark

Opening comments
"This has been a long time coming. If we go back to January with the initial press conference, the first team meetings, training through the whole winter and spring, it's been a lot of fun. We started in May with voluntary workouts and worked all the way through July. We had a really good summer. Our team really came together and our staff did a great job. We're ready to see what happens from here. The proof will be in the pudding in what we do from here."

On putting his impression on the football program
"Since day one, these guys have been very eager to buy into what we were trying to do. I don't think that happened overnight. We can stand up here and talk all day about how good our training is or how good our nutrition is. With all these things, we are just trying to change bodies and change mindsets. I feel really good about them. I could not be more excited about this group. We've got to get a lot better though."

On winning immediately
"We always say `win the day' and that started in January. For us, it was changing how we trained, how we ate, our rest habits. What are our guys doing when they are not with us? Are they students of the game? Are they constantly working extra and doing film studies? That's what I've seen. Since we brought in so many new guys during the offseason, we won't know much before tomorrow, but everything we could do up to this point we have done."

On having a sense of urgency
"We practice at a high tempo. We play a fast-paced offense and fast-paced defense. We try to play a lot of people. That is just who we want to be every day. It's how we approach everything. There is a sense of urgency. We are urgent all the time."

On position battles
"I think we will have a bunch. We have so many new faces and a lot of guys that didn't go through spring training. We brought in a bunch of offensive linemen and a bunch of secondary players. We say the depth chart changes for us potentially every practice. That's how we want these guys to feel. We feel like competition truly brings out your best self. There are going to be some injuries. We want to know what the backup is like. That builds camaraderie."

On quarterback situation
"You go as your quarterback goes. People think that you can only play one guy at the position or that you have a name a starter. We think that naturally happens. We want our `two' to feel like he's the `one' and we even want our `three' to feel like he's the `one.' They have had a good offseason. I felt like they needed to get bigger and stronger. They have done all the things on their own like getting guys to throw with them. I like them."

On facilities
"We had to change the infrastructure. We had a good weight room, but we needed to upgrade that. We needed to add in the nutrition part of it. If you come out to practice, you are going to hear music. We have a tempo system that keeps the clock going and keeps the video system going. We upgraded an existing space to a new locker room, which is awesome. They are going to go into a facility now that is first class."

On preseason expectations being motivation
"If it's not a motivator, something is wrong. I would think that would bother them. Somebody has to be picked there and a lot of it is based on past history that doesn't have anything to do with this team, but it does in the respect of that is what people think of us. The only way to change that is to change it."

On playing in-state rival Troy to open the season
"It makes us work harder. They know they have to play us and we know we have to play them. They will be the favorite. It's exciting because it makes us better. It's tough for both of us."

On competing against Southeastern Conference teams
"It's all about the next game. It's going to be another game. We are going to want to play well everyday. We need to get up for the first game and the league games. They are all important."

On leadership
"We want examples above all. We want them where they are supposed to be at the right time. To be a leader, you have to be doing it right. You don't have to be a senior to be a leader and there are different ways to be a leader. There will be some guys that don't talk a lot but that lead by example. We need a team of those guys that are doing all the little things."

On having experienced special teams
"It's huge. We have got specialists that don't mind working. They do everything that everybody else does. They are humble. It's been fun. Those guys can be some of the very best in the country."

On still getting to know this team
"Football is what you do with the pads on, to a degree. We have all learned how to practice without pads. That's how we get better. We have had so many guys that were injured so we don't know a lot about our team. The more guys that contribute, the better team that we will be."

On improving the defense
"We had to see ourselves change physically. We weren't very strong. We had a lot of guys banged up. You have to be in shape. I don't think we had any of those things and fundamentally, we were very bad. I think we will see a total change from those guys. You will see a different group. We will be great tacklers. That is going to be a mark of how good we are."

On the reaction from the fan base
"Excitement. They are excited about the changes that are being made and seeing our players. We have to do our part. We have to earn that excitement and respect. We are playing for a lot of people. We are playing for the people that got us here, our students, our school, our local community, and our alumni. We want to make people want to see us and proud to be a part of us."

Junior linebacker Jake Ganus

On the coaches' sense of urgency
"The coaches definitely emphasize that. Everything we do in the weight room, everywhere, we're just trying to be urgent. Getting everywhere you've got to be, doing the best you can and always going full speed every play."

On how being urgent can help the team win
"My coaches always say any play can lose you a game, so going hard every play can prevent that. You never know what play is going to be the game-winning touchdown or blocked field goal, so you have to go hard every play and when we really emphasize that in practice, I think it's going to pay off in games."

On the defense changing physically with intense summer workouts
"Our strength coach, Coach (Zac) Woodfin, has done a really great job with us. I think everyone's gotten 10 times stronger just in the weight room and we've gotten faster, bigger and more explosive. I think that's going to pay off when we put the pads on."

Senior wide receiver Jamarcus Nelson

On noticeable difference in practice under Coach Clark
"You're going to see a lot of intensity and competition. He always emphasizes on intensity and communication and really being explosive."

On anticipation from the team this year
"Really just coming out and taking it day by day. It's really about going out competing and having a love for the game and everything else will take care of itself."

On the season-opener against Troy
"It's an in-state rival so everybody has to come out in tune. We feel like we gave them a game last year that we should've won, so we're trying not to get back to that and trying to get to where we just go out and have fun."

Senior kicker Ty Long

On changes from previous years to this season
"It's all been positive. When Mr. Mackin brought in Coach Clark, everything has been positive and it's been good. It's not hard to see a difference. This is my third coaching staff since I've been here and you see every single staff. He and his staff are going a really great job so far."

On reaction from the students since all of the changes
"With all my friends and all the students I've talked to, everyone is excited for the first game to get out there. Everyone is excited for the change and there's so much more to come. We can't just tell everyone, you've just got to go see it."

On the senior class wanting to win this season
"You guys don't even know. All I want to do is win every single game, plain and simple."



Sophomore running back Jordan Howard

On the biggest changes from last season to this summer
“Everybody’s been working harder, but they know how to take care of us in a better way. They make sure we get our proper rest and proper nutrients.”

On the offense being much more simple
“The offense is much more simpler and easy to learn. Last year it was more complicated because of the pro style.”

Senior tight end Kennard Backman

On the difference that Coach Clark and his staff have made
“Since day one, I can say Coach Clark and his staff have come in with a positive attitude. He’s willing to work with us and he wants us to see what he wants. He’s invested in us and he’s true to his word and that’s one of the reasons why we all bought in.”

On the positive attitude surrounding the staff and players
“Attitude and effort is where a lot of games are won. I believe his effort to come in and make a change and attitude toward going about is what I believe in and what he believes in.”

Senior defensive end Chris Walton

On something different you’ll see in the UAB defense this season
“Urgency. That’s the most important thing. Everything we do, we want to do it fast. They’ve made the playbook easier, so we should be able to move pretty fast.”

On the sense of urgency to win for Clark and the senior class
“The first play we’ve got to hit them in the mouth, so it’s very important that we come out and make a statement our first game.”

Senior offensive lineman Brian O’Leary

On the transition with the new coaching staff
“We’ve done it before going from Callaway to McGee. It’s going well. I like the coaching staff a lot. They are real positive.”

On what areas to improve upon since the end of last season
“Getting stronger and getting my stamina up for during games. Get in better shape.”

Senior punter Hunter Mullins

On how he started punting
“When I was younger I played baseball, basketball, and football, I did a bit of everything. In junior high school, I discovered I had a pretty good leg and I just started punting. I wasn’t nearly as consistent as I am now. But, ever since then, it wasn’t something that I did to just try to help the team win. In my junior and senior seasons in high school, I started really practicing a lot. I used to punt and kick in the backyard with my dad and brother all the time. We would be messing around and that’s how I got good at it.

On how he stays motivated
“I know that at the end of the day players have their job and role for the team. It may be minor, but every play matters. And, if I don’t do my job, it can make a difference in the game. I keep that mindset. It may be one play or it may be five, but I just have to make sure I perform.”

Senior defensive end Diaheem Watkins

On his leadership role
“I’m trying to be a vocal leader and also lead by example. I want to have a good camp. When you have a good camp, people are going to want to follow you. That is what I’m going to do.”

On his excitement for his final camp and anticipation for the upcoming season
“Of course, I’m excited. We’ve got the coaching staff. I want to show them that all the hype about me is true; that I am a good player and I can be a leader. I want to go into camp and dominate. Be the best player that I can be.”

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