Hustle Belt: Coach Babers offense professes to want to "play fast." How is the new offense looking and does it look any faster than normal? Will the O-Line be able to play fast?
Thomas Schmeltz: The new offense certainly looks faster than any normal offense. Coach Babers has stressed that this year's team will not be at the optimum speed he would like it to be, and frankly that is scary. Overall the offense has been impressive despite some inconsistencies, especially from the two's and three's. Babers has made it a point that (obviously) the offensive line is going to drive this team, and for the team to be good, they're going to have to be very good as a unit. The offensive line has adjusted quickly and has looked pretty good in terms of keeping up with the offense. The unit had no issues with the speed in the team's scrimmage Aug. 16.
HB: How has WR Gehrig Dieter looked so far in camp and what can we expect from him in this new offense?
TS: Dieter has looked as good as advertised. Having looks at him in bowl prep last season and in spring ball, most saw the kind of potential he had. He's provided an exceptional presence on the field with his size and speed, and he has the best hands of anyone on the unit. But it isn't just Dieter who will provide a threat. Any one of those receivers, Heath Jackson, Ryan Burbrink, Ronnie Moore, Roger Lewis, they could all have outstanding seasons, especially with such a running threat.
HB: With the offense get most of the attention, how has the defense been looking? Are the new defensive backs developing? Will they be playing a much different scheme from last year under Clawson?
TS: The defense has looked outstanding and has the potential to be better than last year. The secondary, though it doesn't return a lot of starters, has been great in coverage and should turn out to be better than last year's unit. That group got a lot of experience last season under Dave Clawson, who made it a point to build depth at every position. The defense has been outstanding up front, getting pressure, and eventually resulting in interceptions.
HB: Has there been someone so far in camp that has come out of nowhere to make a serious threat for playing time? Maybe a true freshman or redshirt freshman?
TS: I don't think there is anybody on either of the first teams that is a surprise. I think we're pretty much getting what we expected on both sides of the ball, personnel wise.
HB: How have the two transfers (Robbie Rhodes and Malik Brown) looked so far? Any guess on whether either will be eligible to play this fall?
TS: Can't answer a whole lot for you on Robbie Rhodes. He certainly hasn't caught my eye, mainly because he's been working with the two's for the majority of the snaps. Malik Brown has worked with the one's and two's and has brought a presence to that defensive line. He's a big kid with quick feet and powerful hands. He'll certainly help, especially with depth, if he is cleared to play.
As for eligibility for either of them, your guess is as good as mine. The NCAA has yet to make a decision on either player, and I assume it is in no hurry to make said decision. If I had to take a guess, I would say Rhodes will not be eligible. But I don't have the slightest idea on Brown. I wouldn't be surprised either way with what the NCAA decides on him.